One of our blog readers has a great idea. I’m totally in favor, but it’ll require some direction from someone with contacts and-or ideas. I’ll paste in his suggestions below. If you have any thoughts on the matter, I want to hear from you.
“Rocky” April 24, 2012 at 8:50 pm
Hi Bill. I applaud your aim of trying to stir up productive thinking about the problems of homelessness. In that regard, here is my idea for a reality TV show not simply about observing and understanding the homeless, but a show that offers viewers a chance to make an immediate difference in the lives of some of those thus afflicted.
The show would be one-half hour in length. It would involve a small crew who would seek out homeless people in immediate need of assistance and willing to accept some help in exchange for telling their stories. Getting the stories could involve the crew going to some tough places, anyplace from seedy motels to riverbank encampments.
One or more of the crew would need to be someone with great interviewing skills, yet also be someone a homeless person might feel comfortable talking with. The crew should not consist of typical TV people at all, not the people you see on the news and on morning talk shows. The homeless people would for the most part be interviewed in their current surroundings, because that presentation of their reality should have more impact.
The crew of four or five might include former homeless people or perhaps reformed drug addicts or ex-cons who have changed their ways and are trying to make a positive difference in society. They would need to be sincerely inspired people who would work for modest pay, because the whole idea is for a low-budget reality type show. If they are trying to break into TV work, however, the experience could be of tremendous value to them.
Now, what I have so far is nothing radically new, and has probably been thought of before. Here is what is unique about my idea: After interviewing the homeless person (perhaps in 3 five-to-eight minute segments) the show viewers could make immediate credit card donations to the homeless person (or “persons”, because there are homeless couples and families in desperate need of help) AND the show would match the total sum of the viewer donations! So — assuming the show could find a viewership — let’s say the combined donations coming after a five-minute segment about “Ed and Linda who are living in their car with their baby” was $3,000, then the producers would kick in another $3,000, which would at least get Ed, Linda, and the baby a roof over their head.
And where does this money come from, someone may be asking. Well, it seems to me that if some talented folks got involved with the show and made it viable, it might be quite easy to find some commercial backers. After all, it would be a real feather in the cap of some companies to sponsor a show that made a positive and measurable difference in the lives of homeless people.
–A note about the interviewer. I think Hewell Hauser (sp?) is great at bringing out people’s stories, though of course his show his totally different than this. Some of the people interviewed might not be very articulate, but with a good interviewer who had talked to an interviewee beforehand, the person being interviewed would not have to say much at all. In some cases requiring it, the interviewer/host could tell the person’s entire story for them, while showing some clips of the person going about his or her routine, be it gathering cans or whatever..
–Action: TV thrives on action, and in this idea there would certainly be action with regard to the crew going into some tough places because of tips such as that a homeless person was “back there in bushes by the river”.
Note: This is not something I am trying to sell to anyone. For what it’s worth — if anything — I am contributing it to Bill, who was the inspiration for it. To me the idea makes sense, so if anyone can run with it, wonderful.
I’m just sayin’.
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