Reality TV Sells
Every now and then, I hear or read about the
exploits of my former film school classmates in the
news media. One recently wrote a screenplay for an
upcoming Julia Roberts film, another has won an
Emmy award several years in a row for her work on
the TV series "ER." And only a few months ago, yet
another received an Academy Award nomination for
Best Live Action Short Film. But none have gained
the international notoriety that former classmate
Jeff Sells has earned in recent days.
Who is Jeff Sells, you might ask? He's only a
bit player in an ongoing drama, but the story
caused me to utter more than a few sympathetic
chuckles. Last week, bounty hunters captured
convicted rapist (and heir to the Max Factor
fortune) Andrew Luster in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
The incident made
headlines around the world as the FBI
extradited Luster back to the U.S. the day after
his capture. But it was the capture itself that
really piqued my interest.
After a tip-off from another film school buddy,
I dug into the week's news. Sure enough, buried in
the many wire reports about the capture, I came
across the name of Jeff Sells. It appears that he
now works as a reality TV producer, and had sniffed
out a story upon hearing that bounty hunter Duane
Lee Chapman was on Luster's trail down in Mexico.
Camera in hand, he was with Chapman and his team
when the capture went down. He then joined them all
in prison two hours later, when Mexican authorities
arrested them on charges of deprivation of liberty
and a variety of other allegations.
They're out on bail now, awaiting trial in
Mexico, while Luster has started serving his
124-year jail sentence back in the U.S. There's
more than a touch of irony there, and certainly a
compelling story to add to the growing lexicon of
reality TV. As Sells himself said, "I work in
reality TV, and this is about as 'reality' as you
can get, because I'm sittin' in a prison."
Sells did what any ambitious newshound or
producer would have done upon catching wind of a
hot story. Too bad he's facing criminal charges for
helping to capture a convicted rapist. But maybe
he'll be able to make a name for himselfor at
least earn a few extra bucksby telling his
story. With any luck, he'll be able to say that
reality TV "sells."
6/26 Update: Sells was cleared
of all charges today and freed to return to the
U.S. The bounty hunter was not so lucky....
Strickland ALL RIGHTS