'High School Reunion' producer Mike Fleiss talks about new season
By Christopher Rocchio, 02/16/2009
Considering Mike Fleiss' reality resume, his claims that the second season of TV Land's High School Reunionreality series will feature one of the weirdest and most-bizarre secrets he's ever seen revealed should probably not be taken lightly.
"There's secret revealed on this season of High School Reunion that's more than bizarre. I think it's one of the biggest bombs ever dropped on a reality show," Fleiss told Reality TV World on Friday. "'Secrets will be revealed!' is sort of part of the reality landscape, but this one is really weird."
The creator of everything from ABC's The Bachelor franchise to ABC's short-lived Are You Hot? hot-bods competition, Fleiss said High School Reunion's second season is worth watching for the secret alone.
"You're going to want to watch the show just to find out what the secret is," he said. "It's bizarre. I've been doing this a long time, I really have, and this one caught me by surprise."
The second season of TV Land's High School Reunion revival will premiere Wednesday, February 18 at 10PM ET/PT and follow 19 Chandler High School Class of 1988 students as they gather for 17 days in Kauai, HI for their 20-year reunion.
Fleiss said two participants in particular -- "The Outcast" Maricela and "The Ugly Duckling" Jessica -- "figure largely into the secret."
"[The secret is] not necessarily about them, but the way the secret is revealed involves them," he explained.
In addition, Fleiss said there aren't any new twists for the show's new edition since he considers High School Reunion a "concept show" rather than a "formulatic show."
"We made a few wrinkles here and there just to keep it fresh," he said. "[But] it's not like you can change it too much because it's a pure show. It's really just about storytelling, about these people reconnecting after 20 years."
"I think it provides a little heavier emotion and drama," Fleiss said about the show's current 20-year reunion format.
"When you're 28 you go to your 10-year reunions, and you're still sort of post-college. A lot of times you're not married yet, you don't have children. But by the time you're 38, life issues have really sunk in. I think that makes for a more dramatic show."
Fleiss also added it's "way easier" to find drama at a 20-year reunion rather than a 10-year reunion.
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"It's harder to find hard bodies that look good in bikinis on the beach, but it's easier to find drama," he said. "There's stuff in there that you would never get at a 10-year reunion."
TV Land renewed High School Reunion last April before beginning the casting process, which Fleiss said is no small feat.
"It's one of the greater casting challenges out there because you can't really go into the high school reunion without 'the jock' and 'the popular girl' and 'the head cheerleader' [types]," he said.
"There are certain archetypal people that are necessities in the cast. So if you're doing the casting at a school and one of those people drops out you've got to throw away the whole school. So it's really, really challenging."
Despite the difficulty in casting, Fleiss assured viewers that, unlike some of the show's earlier editions, all of the new season's participants attended the same school and were part of the same graduating class.