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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Producing Reality Stardom: Constructing, Programming, and Branding Celebrity on Reality Television

  • Author(s): Giggey, Lindsay Nicole
  • Advisor(s): Caldwell, John T
  • et al.

The popular preoccupation with celebrity in American culture in the past decade has been bolstered by a corresponding increase in the amount of reality programming across cable and broadcast networks that centers either on established celebrities or on celebrities in the making. This dissertation examines the questions: How is celebrity constructed, scheduled, and branded by networks, production companies, and individual participants, and how do the constructions and mechanisms of celebrity in reality programming change over time and because of time? I focus on the vocational and cultural work entailed in celebrity, the temporality of its production, and the notion of branding celebrity in reality television. Dissertation chapters will each focus on the kinds of work that characterize reality television production cultures at the network, production company, and individual level, with specific attention paid to programming focused on celebrity making and/or remaking. Celebrity is a cultural construct that tends to hide the complex labor processes that make it possible. This dissertation unpacks how celebrity status is the product of a great deal of seldom recognized work and calls attention to the hidden infrastructures that support the production, maintenance, and promotion of celebrity on reality television. Given particular forms of temporality involved in both television programming cycles and celebrity itself, this dissertation details how the management of time serves as a defining aspect of contemporary media branding.

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