The success or failure of an entertainment project often hinges on the star power of its actors. However, this is a trend that has habitually been bucked in the world of reality television, where unknown contestants can emerge as stars in their own right. That’s one of the reasons why the work that executive producer Bennett Graebner is doing to help bring notable names to the shows he produces has turned heads. The strategy, which is indicative of his unique approach in many different aspects of production, is helping shows like The Bachelor maintain their sky-high ratings. Read on for a look at his efforts in this area as well as other aspects of his work that keeps audiences coming back for more.
The success that Bennett Graebner has had in producing shows is perhaps unsurprising in light of his lengthy career in entertainment. A longtime veteran of television production, he has worked in a range of producer positions over the last decade. That work has included stints as a supervising producer, co-executive producer, and executive producer. At each step along that path, he has been required to draw on a talent for managing large teams and problem-solving in extreme circumstances. This set of skills is in especially high demand in the world of reality television where the ability to figuratively put out fires is often one of a producer’s most pressing duties.
Beyond his experience as a producer, the longtime film professional benefits from roles in a number of other on-set positions. This work includes time spent in the camera department as a cinematographer, a skill which underscores his sense of framing and visual aesthetic. He’s also spent significant time working as a grip, a position which is often called upon to shape the light produced by gaffers and others in the electrical department. By drawing on this background during his current work, the producer is better able to understand the roles and needs of the myriad of on-set individuals who make television production possible.
Search for stars
The work by Bennett Graebner in reality television has not only drawn upon his unique logistical experience but also his conceptual views towards his shows’ narratives. The producer is vocal in his understanding of story and drama and has often been known to comment on how these elements are crucial for any show to succeed. In the context of reality television, this has habitually manifested in the need for compelling plot lines and interesting contestants, but the addition of known actors to the equation is an element that has helped increase that appeal.
As with anything in entertainment, it’s important to strike the right balance when adding talent to a show’s roster, even if it’s just for a cameo appearance. This consideration has certainly been present in the producer’s mind as his shows have worked with various celebrities in the past. For instance, an appearance by the rapper Ice Cube on the show got big reactions from the producer and audiences alike. “We’re always really excited to have someone on the show who feels like they wouldn’t necessarily walk into The Bachelor or The Bachelorette,” said Graebner in a discussion with E. “We felt the same way when Ice Cube was on a date, I never thought Ice Cube would be on a date on The Bachelor and there he was and I was thrilled.”
Success working with talent
Of course, those who watch the above shows know that few, if any, celebrities have had the kind of popular impact as the cameos from actor Fred Willard. The star, known for roles in films like Best in Show and Anchorman, has emerged as a presence on the dating reality shows after what was originally conceived as a single appearance. That appearance, which saw the comedic actor draw on his canine experience to help out with dog-themed dates, was a huge hit. Immediately after the episode, producers knew the actor would be a great fit for additional cameos.
One of the things that struck Bennett Graebner was the actor’s ability to integrate into the tone of the show. “It’s not like he watched the show religiously before he came to work with us, and yet he seemed like he had been a member of Bachelor Nation forever,” said the producer. When additional opportunities to feature Willard on his show presented, such as a dodgeball-themed episode, the producer made the call to bring the actor back for repeat performances.
Familiarity with entertainment
The decision to integrate well-known actors into select episodes of his shows is an indication of the producer’s broad understanding of the nature of entertainment and how to draw audiences in. By bucking some of the usual methods of producing reality television, he has been able to keep audiences engaged and keep his shows in the public eye as fixtures of pop culture. Though he uses a range of techniques to help achieve that, his work with celebrities has been a powerful piece of that puzzle.
This understanding of large-scale concepts in entertainment comes from a variety of places but it seems likely that the producer gained a good portion of that understanding during his time at USC’s famous school of cinematic arts. The producer’s education at the film school not only helped instill him with an understanding of production concepts but also some of the underlying principles of keeping audiences engaged. His success since graduation is just one of the many indicators that his time at the school was a formative experience for his professional life.
While it is common for film and television projects to draw upon the star power of their actors to appeal to audiences, this is not always the case in reality television. In light of this, witnessing the manner in which Bennett Graebner works with notable personalities to further the popularity of his shows gives an interesting window into the mind of one of the top producers in the medium. By using these kinds of strategies, as well as drawing on his long experience working in entertainment, the producer is showcasing how modern reality television can enthrall viewers in new and surprising ways.