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November 26, 2014

When Reality Stars Attack ... Scripted Drama

by Tom Conroy, posted Nov 6th 2009 3:12PM
Kim KardashianReality TV isn't just putting television writers out of work. It's also helping to raise unemployment at the Screen Actors Guild.

KIm Kardashian (of 'Keeping Up With the Kardashians') will be starring as a bad girl (with TV hostess Vanessa Minnillo) on an upcoming episode of 'CSI: NY.' Meanwhile, two stars of Bravo's 'Real Housewives of New Jersey,' Teresa Giudice and Jacqueline Laurita, will play themselves on an episode of NBC's Jersey-set medical drama 'Mercy.'Kim KardashianReality TV isn't just putting television writers out of work. It's also helping to raise unemployment at the Screen Actors Guild.

KIm Kardashian (of 'Keeping Up With the Kardashians') will be starring as a bad girl (with TV hostess Vanessa Minnillo) on an upcoming episode of 'CSI: NY.' Meanwhile, two stars of Bravo's 'Real Housewives of New Jersey,' Teresa Giudice and Jacqueline Laurita, will play themselves on an episode of NBC's Jersey-set medical drama 'Mercy.'

We wish these women all the best in their acting careers, but they probably shouldn't quit their reality day jobs. Although ever since 'Survivior' changed the cultural landscape back in 2000, casting reality stars has been a reliable way for marginal movie or TV projects to get press (hello!), few of the wannabes have managed to make a living at it.

Of course, no one really expected any stars to be born in such aberrations as the all-reality-cast thriller 'The Scorned' or the 'American Idol' quickie 'From Justin to Kelly.' But reality stars have tended to struggle in more mainstream projects as well.

Following are a few of the more high-profile reality celebs who have been bitten by the acting bug -- some of whom have learned that it bites harder than reality.

Colleen Haskell
Reality role: "America's sweetheart" in the first 'Survivor' (2000)
Biggest acting role: Rob Schneider's sweetheart in the first major instance of reality stunt casting, 'The Animal' (2001)
Critical take: "Haskell, in her feature debut after falling to the wily Richard Hatch in the first 'Survivor,' brings a sweet smile and absolutely nothing else to her animal hugger." -- Variety
Career trajectory: After playing a cute girl in a couple of sitcoms, Colleen worked as a production assistant on 'The Michael Essany Show' (2003). Since then, she seems to have been voted off the showbiz island.

Kristin Cavallari
Reality role: Hot high school mean girl on 'Laguna Beach,' 2004
Biggest acting role: Hot college nice girl in 'Van Wilder: Freshman Year,' 2009 (straight to video)
Critical take: "This unpleasant Cavallari lady ... has all the screen presence of bored Gap clerk." -- EFilmCritic.com
Career trajectory: Having also appeared in such memorable films as 'Fingerprints,' 'Green Flash' and 'Wild Cherry,' she's back where she started, on MTV, playing the mean girl on the 'Laguna Beach' spin-off 'The Hills.'

Stephen Colletti
Reality role: The point man in the Kristin Cavallari-Lauren Conrad love triangle on "Laguna Beach"
Biggest acting role: Colletti joined 'One Tree Hill' in 2007, playing Chase, a high school transfer student who joined the Clean Teens group and has since aged radically along with the rest of the main characters.
Critical take: "Stephen Colletti really surprised me this season. Coming from the fake-and-bake semi-reality world of 'Laguna Beach,' I wasn't expecting much from him, but he's really convincing and ranks pretty high on my list among the group -- even if he was the last addition." -- tvguide.com
Career trajectory: Colletti, who was never one to make the first move with either Lauren or Kristin, is staying put on 'One Tree Hill.'

Jacinda Barrett
Reality role: The pretty but oddly forgettable Australian model in 'The Real World: London' (1995)
Biggest acting role: The pretty girlfriend and then wife of Joaquin Phoenix in 'Ladder 49' (2004)
Critical take: "Barrett is convincing as the long-suffering, but supportive, hero's wife." -- The Los Angeles Times
Career trajectory: She continues to win parts in respectable but oddly forgettable movies like 'The Human Stain,' 'Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason' and 'Poseidon.'

Colin Mortensen
Reality role: One of those indistinguishable brown-haired white guys on 'The Real World,' in this case the 1999 Hawaii edition. He and Amaya are believed to be the first 'Real World'ers to go all the way with each other while still in captivity.
Biggest acting role: A.J., a dull-witted office assistant in the short-lived 2000 NBC summer sitcom 'M.Y.O.B.', Lauren Graham's last lousy TV gig before she landed 'Gilmore Girls'
Critical take: "A.J. ... raises his upper lip and blinks a lot. That's how Colin chooses to portray stupidity." -- Television Without Pity
Career trajectory: 'M.Y.O.B.' was MIA after three episodes. Colin did penance by appearing on 'The Real World/Road Rules Battle of the Sexes' in 2003, and he wrote a book called 'A New Ladies' Man: A Complete Guide to Getting, Pleasing, and Keeping the Girl,' even though he didn't exactly please or keep Amaya.

Jamie Chung
Reality role: The good girl tempted to go bad on 'The Real World: San Diego' (2004)
Biggest acting role: A martial-arts mistress in training in ABC Family's 2008 mini-series 'Samurai Girl.'
Critical take: "She's playing basically the same character -- the quiet, hot, hard-working, somewhat blank Asian-American teenager -- that she played in her best-known role to date: as herself in 'The Real World: San Diego.' " -- The New York Times
Career trajectory: She doesn't seem to be stretching herself creatively: The real-life sorority girl most recently appeared in the slasher film 'Sorority Row,' with a fellow reality alumna, Audrina Patridge of 'The Hills.'

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