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October 23, 2014

Project Runway winner slams Bravo

by Bob Sassone, posted Aug 6th 2007 3:41PM

Jay McCarrollInteresting piece in New York mag about what happens to reality show stars after they appear on TV. Top Chef winner Ilan Hall split with his girlfriend. Project Runway finalist Wendy Pepper changed her look and left her husband. And Project Runway winner Jay McCarroll is homeless.

For some reason, McCarroll blames this on fame and the show.

McCarroll had a hard time after winning the competition. He found out that The Weinstein Company owned 10% of whatever he created if he took the $100,000 prize. He didn't take the money, and now he's broke and doesn't really do anything for the network anymore, which hurts his images and brand (the clause is no longer in the show's contract). McCarroll doesn't even have a permanent home: "I haven't been living anywhere for two years...I sleep at other people's houses. I sleep here [a studio] if I'm drunk."

This is unfortunate I guess (though this type of "homeless" seems more like a choice than a desperate situation), but I think the bigger picture here is that these reality show contestants have an unrealistic view of what a reality show is about and what it can do for them. They think it's their "ticket" to fame and/or fortune.

Now, that has actually happened to many reality stars, but I think it's an odd attitude going in. It makes me think that reality show contestants are not only clueless when it comes to reality shows, but about life itself (though if you watch enough reality shows that won't come as a surprise to anyone).

I've said this before and I'll say it again: reality stars can talk about how "hard" the audition process is and how much competition there is with other contestants and that winning is a longshot and it screws up your life, but it's a faster track to success than a designer who has to start from scratch with no TV exposure, or a band who has to play in dives for years before they (maybe) get a record deal. McCarroll went from small town boy to Bravo superstar and couldn't handle it, and now he's paying the price.

Then again, he does have a giant feature story in New York magazine, and a lot of people can't say that.

Update: This might be a joke, at least the part about McCarroll being homeless. A reader says that he isn't homeless, has a nice pad on the Upper West Side, and is working on several lines of clothing.

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