The Reelz network has a new TV series that’s a reality show take on the Beverly Hillbillies called Hollywood Hillbillies. The show developed as the result of a young red-headed boy’s rant on YouTube over being called a “ginger.” The video went viral with over 32 million hits and caught the attention of the Tosh.0 producers, which prompted them to fly the young man to Hollywood to be on Daniel’s show. Daniel then introduced Michael “The Angry Ginger” (YouTube name: Copper Cab) to his audience along with his Grandma Mema, who also has a series of popular videos on YouTube. Here’s a link to the Tosh.O show.
Hollywood continues to mine the Internet for new talent as I mentioned in What I Wish I Knew Before I Moved to Hollywood, recently released in its 2nd edition but published originally in 2009, before Beiber and dozens of others found celebrity through YouTube. The actor’s, writer’s or filmmaker’s ability to be discovered is no longer limited to only those who live in Los Angeles or New York. If you can tell a story in a short video, draw an audience and keep them coming back for more, Hollywood may fly you in like they did Michael and Mema.
According to the new show’s setup, a Hollywood manager named David Weintraub saw them and decided to fly the family out to Hollywood to help get Michael into show business. Of course, the show is about the family transplanting from the back woods of Georgia to Hollywood and only uses the rouse of Michael working in Hollywood as a device to set the show around because, of course, the whole family is now working in Hollywood. Mema is already doing endorsements for other network shows.
From the episodes I’ve seen, it’s going to be a hit. I laughed from beginning to end. Reelz is playing it smart by not only using the old Beverly Hillbillies concept in a reality show way, but Mema is a modern day cantankerous Archie Bunker commenting on the people and customs of Hollywood through her own character lens that is very similar to Tyler Perry’s Madea, who Perry also plays as a female curmudgeon from Georgia. The family doesn’t come across as racists, and much of Mema seems pretty tongue-in-cheek. You get the sense that she’s been told to turn up the controversy. So far, the most surprising comments she’s made have been toward her grandson’s manager David. “I love Jews,” she says to Weintraub in one episode, “I’ve never met one that couldn’t get some shit done.” Weintraub falls back in his seat laughing as she continues, “I’m tellin you, Jews are smart.” Cut to Mema doing a classic reality show confessional direct to camera: “You never see a Jew doing manual labor;” she says, eyes popping for emphasis, “they’re all smart.” (Click for vid).
And so it goes, each episode Mema and her Hillbilly clan discovering that “Transvestites are weird, but nice people too.” “Organic food is expensive and not as tasty, but keeps people thin,” etc. It’s granny and Jeb’n’dem all over again. As a nice bonus, the show takes you a bit behind the scenes of Hollywood as you follow Michael to fake acting auditions and to some pretty sad lower level celebrity gigs that can be pretty poignant. And it’s all because a young man with a camera shot a video of his authentic self (or perhaps just a character he made up) and posted it to YouTube.
In many ways, it’s the central survival tactic for all artists in Hollywood or elsewhere. Create you art, whatever it is, and get it out there. Then create more and get it out there again and again. Eventually, something may strike a chord with people. Whether you’re a large production company creating TV shows, a writer pitching stories, an actor doing improv, a comedian developing jokes, an author writing stories, or a filmmaker doing shorts, you never know what’s going to resonate with people so keep at it until it does. Let Mema show you how it’s done. Check out the promo for Hollywood Hillbillies here