NEW YORK – Joe Schmo offers the newest reality- show twist, where everyone's in on the joke -- except one poor "schmo."
In Joe Schmo (search) (debuting Sept. 7 at 9 p.m. on Spike TV), producers will set up their mark, law-school dropout Matt Kennedy Gould, convincing him he's been cast on a Big Brother (search)-style reality show called "Lap of Luxury."
Gould believes he's competing for $100,000. The twist is that his housemates and competitors are actually actors - manipulating him for all the laughs they can muster.
" We were all concerned with the fact that we are doing a play, in essence, for an audience of one - Matt," said Ralph Garman, the pretend host of "Lap of Luxury." "Our priority really was to provide the most convincing world we could for him."
Writers and actors had a daily challenge to roll with the punches as Gould zigged when they thought he'd zag.
"This comes out in the show. Everything that was scripted on the page but [Gould] reacted either the opposite way - or in way we never predicted," said David Stanley, who with partner Scott Stone has made such reality shows as Fame and The Mole.
The show, created by screenwriter Rhett Reese (Monsters Inc.) and producer Paul Wernick (Big Brother 2, The Chair), leans heavily on reality TV cliches.
There's the smarmy, overbearing host; an elaborate dismissal ceremony; and the typical array of reality TV personalities -- including the trying-too-hard-to-be-your-buddy guy, the bitchy young girl, the belligerent jerk and the grizzled retired Marine.