Hollywood in Cowtown
UPDATE 7-22-2022: Reality Fest has been postponed. In an e-mailed statement, organizers said, "We have decided to postpone the event as it is currently scheduled in September while we run the traps for the future. We apologize for the short-term inconvenience; however, we believe that the moves we’re making now will serve to launch our inaugural Reality Fest event to a much higher orbit in the future. That means better exposure for Reality Fest, which translates to a bigger impact for the kids for whom we’re all working in the first place." Those who have already purchased a ticket or sponsorship level for the September dates have been refunded in full. For more information, visit the website.
There's never been a Real Housewives of Fort Worth or a Survivor: Fort Worth, but the city will be the center of the unscripted TV universe during the inaugural Reality Fest this fall.
Taking place September 17-18 at Arts Fort Worth (formerly the Fort Worth Community Arts Center), Reality Fest promises two days of events dedicated to all things unscripted. "Meet some of your favorite stars, get casting tips, learn what goes on behind the scenes of your beloved series, and have a chance to party with some of your favorite cast members," the organizers say on the website.
Proceeds will benefit the Lone Star Film Society's educational film camps for aspiring filmmakers.
Reality Fest is the creation of Tricia Jenkins — a Texas Christian University film and TV professor, Fort Worth Film Commission executive board chair, and Lone Star Film Society board member — and reality TV star Clint Robertson.
"Reality Fest is a new event that we are launching this year, and if it’s successful, we hope to run it every year in Fort Worth," Jenkins says.
The idea came last year, she says, when she taught a class on unscripted series and brought in Robertson as a guest speaker. Robertson, a TCU grad and DFW native, was a runner-up on NBC's The Apprentice and is the current host of HGTV’s Boise Boys and Outgrown.
"Over dinner, he mentioned how much he had wanted to start a 'reality con' where people could come meet their favorite unscripted personalities and learn what goes on from the production side, as well," she says. "Since I had experience programming events and knew a lot of local people who had been in unscripted series, we started brainstorming how to launch this."
The Fort Worth Film Commission hopped on board as co-producer of the event.
Although tickets have not yet gone on sale, the festival has a robust lineup of speakers and near-full schedule published on its website. Panelists will include popular stars of reality franchises like The Real Housewives of Dallas and Survivor, as well as hosts of HGTV shows and even an award-winning Fort Worth chef who's competed on Food Network.
Robertson will deliver the keynote and welcome to open the festival on September 17.
Panels and their participants so far include:
- "The Reality of Home Improvement Shows" — Clint Robertson, host of Outgrown and Boise Boys (HGTV); Grace Mitchell, host of One of a Kind (HGTV); Andy Williams, host ofFlip or Flop Fort Worth (HGTV)
- "Producing Unscripted Series" — Carolyn Bailey, CEO of Script & Screen, producer AMS Productions; Alan Farris, co-founder of Script & Screen
- "Casting" — Jodi Wincheski, former casting director for Survivor and The Amazing Race; Riley Wincheski, psychological background checks for Survivor
- "The Inner Circle" — Terilisha, Season 2, The Circle (Netflix); Lee Swift, Season 2, The Circle (Netflix)
- "All Things Survivor" — Michaela Bradshaw, contestant on Survivor; Libby Vincek, contestant on Survivor; Danny McCray, contestant on Survivor
- "Working with Your Celebrity" — D'Andra Simmons, cast of Real Housewives of Dallas; Elena Davies, contestant on Big Brother; Ashton Theiss, contestant on The Amazing Race
- "The Real Housewives Franchise" — LeeAnne Locken, cast of RHOD; Kary Brittingham, cast of RHOD; Jeremy Nguyen, associate producer, RHOD and RHOSLC
- "Up Close and Personal with Reality Chefs" — Fort Worth chef Juan Rodriguez, Iron Chef and Chopped
More speakers and seminars are being announced as the event nears. There will also be a cast member after party (ticketed separately), where attendees can mingle with cast and production professionals.