Exclusive: GPP Gets Real with Reality TV King Ken Fuchs

Executive Director Brennan MacLean recently sat down with Ken Fuchs, director of hit T.V. shows “Family Feud,” “The Bachelor,” “The Bachelorette,” and “Shark Tank.” Find out what Fuchs has to say about the importance of versatility in the industry and his personal experiences working on productions involving…uh…alarm clocks that cook bacon?

(Interview edited and condensed.)

MacLean: The woman recently on “Family Feud” – was she serious about repeating the same answer, just pronouncing it differently? Steve Harvey played it cool, and we just wanted to get your take on it.

Fuchs: When we shoot “Family Feud,” we shoot it live to tape. Steve’s so funny. He goes off in different directions, and sometimes, there’s material in the tapings. This was a case where the footage went very long, and it was very funny. I think Steve brought it up in an interview, so there was a strong desire to see it in its long-form version. It’s all good publicity, right?

MacLean: Is this the worst answer the show has ever seen?

Fuchs: Oh, I don’t think so. I think the woman probably got a little confused.

MacLean: Are contestants selected on any sort of basis? Or drug tested?

Fuchs: There are all of these different tests and whatnot. We have a terrific testing department, and they go out all over the country. We look for good game players, people with interesting stories. We look for people who will make good T.V., who can play the game, who are competitive and who know how to enjoy the game.

MacLean: How important is it to have a diversified skillset when filming?

Fuchs: I think that it’s good to have your hand in a lot of the puzzle, because the truth is that it’s all so interrelated… You might not literally know how to apply makeup, but the more you understand about the process, the better director you’ll be. Down the line, you’ll have to deal with makeup artists and know how that process works, how it’s scheduled, and how an actor relates to that process and comes to the set. It’s sort of a vague recipe in which you need to have some knowledge about all of the ingredients.

MacLean: Let’s talk “Shark Tank.” When can we expect the new season?

Fuchs: We’re starting shooting for season 8 this summer.

MacLean: I like how you keep some sharks consistently, but you also sometimes bring in guest sharks. Whose choice is that? Was it a strategic move because the panel was kind of stagnating? Or were they just running out of money?

Fuchs: No, it’s just to keep it fresh a little bit. It’s sort of nice to see who else is out there. We get a lot of interest from different people who want to be on the show.

MacLean: What’s the craziest thing that you can remember someone pitching to the sharks?

Fuchs: That’s an interesting question. We know some of the stuff is absolutely off-the-wall and crazy and will never get deals. But sometimes, you think that this stuff will never get a deal, and then it does and ends up being successful.

MacLean: Give me an example.

Fuchs: This one guy, this guy from the Midwest, had a plastic covering that you put over your plants. It was intended to conserve water, and it seemed so primitive. But some of the sharks found the simplicity endearing and went in on it. So you never know. I can tell you that the casting process for that show is very intense. We get 50,000 submissions.

MacLean: Most bizarre idea that’s been pitched?

Fuchs: I remember there was this one guy who had an alarm clock that was a hot plate. When it was time, it would heat up and start to cook bacon so that you could wake up to the smell.

MacLean: Who wouldn’t want that?

Fuchs: Yeah. We see all types of things, crazy things.

MacLean: Jumping to “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette”: I’ve talked to a lot of girls who love “The Bachelor” or “The Bachelorette” and others who hate them. What would you tell those girls that are anti-“Bachelor” or anti-“Bachelorette”?

Fuchs: I don’t know. Why do they hate it?

MacLean: They say the girls are pimping themselves out, putting themselves out there too much, or that it’s fake. How could a woman with dignity go on a T.V. show and allow herself to be picked up or dumped by someone she barely knows?

Fuchs: I would guess that most girls who say that secretly watch it. That’s my answer to them.

MacLean: Excellent answer.

Fuchs: Look, you can go to any bar in any city and meet crazy, stupid 25-year-olds. I mean, people do all kinds of stuff, and a lot of people come on the show for different reasons. But a lot of the time… I think a lot of women like to watch other people do these stupid things, and they say to themselves, “How can they do that? I could never do that.” But secretly, they think to themselves that they’re also watching the fantasy of falling in love and traveling the world and doing all of these amazing things.

MacLean: They’re watching it, though. It’s continuing into what season now?

Fuchs: We just finished our 20th for “The Bachelor,” and in March, we’ll be shooting our 12th for “The Bachelorette,” so 32 seasons.

MacLean: Let’s switch gears. I wanted to ask about Kevin O’Leary, or “Mr. Wonderful.”

Fuchs: The best, my favorite!

MacLean: What? Seriously? The kind of guy to grab a drink with?

Fuchs: They all are. For millionaires and billionaires, they’re all nice people you want to meet. [Kevin’s] so curious, and he’s got such an agile mind. It’s such a blast to be with him.

MacLean: What’s filming like for “Shark Tank”?

Fuchs: We’re shooting season 8 in June. We shoot some in June and some in September. If you’re in L.A., you can hit me up and visit the set.

MacLean: Sounds like a plan! Looks like I’ll see you in June, then!

Fuchs: Terrific. Take care.

A big thank-you to Ken Fuchs for his time and insight! 

– Jeana Braun

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