Margaret Ann Spence Coming Home

Reality Jane

By Shannon Nering Bancroft Press 2011 If you’ve ever wondered how realistic “reality tv” is, I have a book for you in Shannon Nering’s Reality Jane. I was unable to put down. It is a story about greed and ambition, the unreality behind “reality tv” and it seems so authentic I didn’t have to wait to read about the author at the end of the book to discover that she has actually been a producer for well-known television shows. In fact, she is still in the biz in her native Vancouver. Jane Kaufman, the protagonist of Reality Jane, is a Canadian broadcast journalist who gets her big break as a production assistant in Los Angeles. Throughout this satire on Hollywood, Canada is in the background as a true reality, a place of reason and sanity in Jane’s mind as she navigates the snake pit of television. A telling moment is the Grammys, to which Jane and her friend and colleague Toni have been invited by their boss. Jane goes to the bathroom, and returns to her seat, only to find it has been filled. Such is life for someone climbing the ladder in a world of rapidly shifting loyalties, back-stabbing and sycophancy, brutal eighteen hour workdays, almost daily airplane flights, and a diet of junk food, interrupted on occasional weekends by alcohol – fueled parties. According to Toni, Jane is to be envied. Beautiful and talented, Jane has to fend off boyfriends (she has three in the course of the book), and is able to see through the clutter so that she runs with opportunities when they are mere shadows. Eventually she becomes a producer on a famous self-help reality show. When the true nature of that show – and celebrity- become obvious to her, she must make a decision about how to live her life. Told in a rapid-fire way, with one dramatic scene leading to the next, snappy dialogue, and some terrific writing, this story struck me as original and compelling, even as the reader wants Jane to slow down and realize what is happening to her. If you want to know how behind-the-scenes television works – and what it does to those who spend their days making entertainment for the rest of us, this book is a fast and enjoyable read.

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