NEW YORK (AP) — Producers seeking teenagers who “party like a rock star” for a reality show about their lives say they were actually casting for the upcoming CMT intervention series, “My Dysfunctional Family,” not a show that glorifies teen rebellion.
But the producers and CMT, which is premiering the series on July 5, are distancing themselves from how participants were wrangled for the show.
Through a casting service, the show’s production company had said it was seeking people as young as 13 who described themselves as “a modern-day teenage rebel with a hardcore lifestyle.”
A casting flyer was distributed with the message: “(expletive) parents. They’re old and they don’t know (expletive). It’s 4:20 and time for you and your friend Molly to tell your story.” Molly is the street name for a synthetic drug.
The notice, which appeared in the entertainment industry publication Backstage, advertised a show called “My Teen Life,” which doesn’t exist. Instead, producers now say the casting was for “My Dysfunctional Family,” which features “a self-styled commando family fixer” who helps troubled teens and their families deal with addiction and other issues.
Yet both CMT and the show’s production company, Shed Media US, say they did not see or approve the language in the Backstage notice and flyer for their show. And the casting company, Metal Flowers Media, says it circulated only approved materials, but wouldn’t say who approved them.
The casting language is not in the spirit of the show, CMT said in a statement on Thursday.
“`My Dysfunctional Family’ is a positive show about bringing families together,” CMT said. “In no way does this show glamorize or even condone bad behavior from teenagers. We hope this show will serve as a conversation starter for families, with common sense advice every family can relate to.”
One casting call that CMT says it did approve is directed to parents of out-of-control teenagers. That notice said producers are looking for parents who are at their wit’s end with families that are falling apart. It directed responses to an email account at Shed.
Kristi Russell, president of Metal Flowers Media, said that while the show doesn’t encourage or accept bad behavior, troubled teens must be found before they can be helped.
“How do you find a troubled teen?” Russell asked. “You outreach to crisis centers, churches, exasperated parents, scared siblings and, most importantly, directly to the teens themselves in a language they relate and respond to.”
“My Dysfunctional Family” stars Dave Vitalli, who has appeared on the syndicated show “Maury” dealing with troubled families. It seems modeled in part after A&E’s popular series “Intervention,” where friends and family members of people with substance abuse problems demand that the person seek help.
Shed has produced several non-fiction series, including “The Real Housewives of New York City” for Bravo, “Basketball Wives” on VH1 and “SuperNanny” on ABC. The Metal Flowers Media website lists more than 100 television programs for which it has helped find participants.
David Bauder can be reached at dbauder(at)ap.org or on Twitter (at)dbauder. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/david-bauder .