Thoughts on the Biggest Loser walkout

http://www.hulu.com/embed/xRgX90sKK5Iu5AaYBWbQsA/i200

I don’t know the full story. You can watch the first fifteen minutes of the episode above to see what I’m commenting on. I think anyone who saw last night’s episode does not know the actual story. Here are some of my thoughts …

There are two sides two every conflict. In this particular case, one side (Biggest Loser) got to control the portrayal of the story. Coincidentally, it came across making them look right. I would weigh that in any opinions formed. Had the contestants controlled the editing, the portrayals, and how it played out, I wonder how it would have appeared. I also don’t think it’s a coincidence that the show picked up when it was basically over; there is not a moment that contestants are not on camera. Hidden cameras, camera men … why didn’t we get to see the initial conflict, how it began, their conversations with each other and the directors? We only get to see the aftermath, when they’re all sitting there silently? Every moment of their conversations with each other and the production staff was caught on film and on audio, guaranteed.

Seasons 1-12 were produced by 3Ball studios. For season 13, NBC switched control to a different production company. It is a new staff of producers, camera people, staff, etc. About the only thing held over were the celebrity host and trainers. Something in the back of my mind was wondering how the contestants have been handled to build to that kind of explosion; I don’t know their stories. I do know that of the several hundred former contestants, over the last half year I don’t think one has said anything positive about the new production company’s handling of contestants or former contestants (we communicate regularly). I think they very much contributed to the conflict, and it’s no coincidence that this kind of explosion did not happen under 3Ball’s watch.

I don’t for one moment believe the timeline in the episode. The clock telling the time, the idea that it started one morning and was over the next, the trainers being surprised, a lawyer prepped and ready for the camera within an hour, etc. For example; in my season’s opening episode, what was portrayed as the first the 30 minutes on the ranch actually took two FULL days to film. We were told to dress the same, do our hair the same, use the same clothes (right down to the same pair of socks), etc., so that it could be edited together to represent a much shorter period of time. When the story hit the news it was well known that production shut down for several days. Several days worth of negotiating, debating, and struggling through all of it was reduced to fifteen minutes. What we saw was a highly edited, reduced and sanitized version of 60-100 hours worth of drama.

The ‘contract’ read to Jeremy was a prop. Three or four pieces of paper? That’s a joke. It was used to communicate the idea that he should have easily remembered what he signed, to make the contestants look ridiculous. In reality, the contracts are over 40 pages long. At the beginning of the episode Ali mentioned in the voice over that they had started over four months before (but it’s week 16? Shouldn’t that be just under four months … Biggest Loser weeks film for more than 7 days sometimes … more on that later). Is it any wonder that he didn’t remember something in a 40+ page legal document signed five to six months before (you sign the contract before you ever fly out; they don’t want to waste time and money on you if you’re not going to sign it).

Most reality shows film in 30-40 days; Biggest Loser films for 4-6 months. On top of that, everything is controlled. The contestants are bossed around, shuttled and handled by production assistants half their age. The schedule for the day is found out in the morning. Communication with the outside world is cut off. All of this is done to heighten the emotional tension and drama with the purpose of creating and manipulating ‘great’ reality TV. Even other reality show contestants can’t understand the state of mind it puts a person in to have lived under that for the length of time the final five had.

People have criticized Mark and Buddy for leaving because they were quitters, whiners about the game, etc. If it was really so simple, I don’t think for a moment the two pastors would have walked away. We have mutual friends in the ministry world that have nothing but good things to say about them and their integrity. I trust their assessment of them. Buddy was a very real contender for the prize. That money represents many years of a pastor’s salary – I remember when it was potentially in my reach, I was almost hospitalized as a result of my efforts to win the runner up prize! It is very, very appealing. If it was as black and white as NBC portrayed it, they wouldn’t have walked away from it so close to the end. A lot more went on during those days when production was shut down than we saw.

Anyway, just some of my jumbled thoughts to say … don’t form an opinion based one what you saw. It was a very small, very controlled peek of something that was a lot bigger.

34 thoughts on “Thoughts on the Biggest Loser walkout

  1. You are such an apologist for Mark and Buddy. Being pastors have nothing to do with how they acted, we've all known pastors that are not 'pastoral' in their actions or motives. Fact is whether the contract is 4 pages or 400, this twist is a regular part of the show's past and is no reason for them to threaten to quit. Not sure about Buddy, but Mark didn't have a prayer to win. He has lost about all the weight he could lose, and probably would have been below the red/yellow line this week had he stayed. He knew this, and in my opinion would rather quit over 'principle' then leave a 'loser'. No matter what drama was left on the editing room floor, what Mark and Buddy did was wrong, period. They were not lied to. They got free trips (D.C. and Hawaii), world class trainers for months, free food and much more. They were/are ungrateful and selfish. My 2 cents.

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  2. Understanding all of what you say (I have a long career in the media and am familiar with the ability to "shape" a story) I'm still disappointed in Mark and Buddy. The contract is the contract and all the contestants have talked about their familiarity with the show and its "surprises". You know going in that you're giving up a certain amount of control. This wasn't even a "new" surprise but one done regularly.

    While I understand the mentality of "we deserve it, they're losers" if someone is doing better work at home why shouldn't they be given a shot? "It's not fair" sounds like an excuse to my ears.

    And I would just offer a word of caution in the other direction. Who is to say that what we saw wasn't a reasonable representation of what happened? They still needed to get through workout and weigh in portions of the show so they only have a limited amount of time. That's not underhanded that's just part of the story telling format of the program.

    Not saying it was or wasn't just saying we need to be fair in both directions.

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  3. I saw that, Len. I thought it was well written; it's tricky for Mark because technically he can't write about anything they don't air without threat of a lawsuit. In other words, if something happens on the ranch that doesn't hit the TV edit, all contestants are contractually forbidden from speaking/writing about it with a million dollar penalty riding on it.

    Jay, it's possible it was a reasonable representation. I guess what pushed my buttons is the level of venom and hatred I've seen spilling onto Mark and Buddy's Facebook pages, the messages people are writing them, etc. People assume they know all the ins and outs of what happened because they saw fifteen minutes of edited footage put together by one side of the disagreement. I guess my real point is, other than the crew and cast present at the ranch, none of us really know what happened. It's okay to be disappointed with them, it's okay to think a different choice should have been made … but I think a lot of what I have seen being said to them is not okay, especially given the reality that we just don't know the full story, and like my comment to Len, Buddy and Mark are contractually forbidden to say anything outside of what aired.

    I know, I know … they broke the contract in leaving early. But there has been a history of contestants leaving, refusing to come to finales, etc, with no financial penalty. Where NBC does get serious with threats of lawsuits and monetary penalties if when a contestant reveals too much information about what is to come (revealing eliminations ahead of time, for example), or other revelations that could be considered damaging to the show. A contestant walking off is great for ratings; a contestant blabbing the secrets and killing people's desires to watch is bad for ratings.

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  4. #1 I completely disagree with your take on Jeremy and his contract. Sure, they probably brought in a 4 page document to make Jeremy look silly. I don't give crap — no matter how long its been, no matter how long the contract is, if you don't know what you signed, you're a moron.

    #2 This is coming from a Jesus loving girl, who has known a lot of pastors in her life. I wouldn't trust most pastors as far as I could throw them. Most of the the pastors I have known turned out the examples they should have been or purported themselves to be. Am I surprised that Mark and Buddy broke their contracts, no. I think they conveniently forgot about the important verse "let your yes be yes and let your no be no". Breaking a contract was simply the wrong thing to do. But am I surprised that it was the two pastors who behaved like spoiled children and walked out. Nope, not for one single second.

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  5. Matthew – And my position is consistent on any of the folks who walk off. I disagree with that decision. At the same time I am disappointed rather than angry. My question to the haters is "By what possible standard do you have any right to be angry? It's a television show for the love of God!" The venom isn't new (Americans have ALWAYS had a nasty streak) but that doesn't make it right. Mark and Buddy had the right to make the decision they made. I just think they made the wrong one and with poor foundation. All of which needs to be taken with the grain of salt given my limited understanding of the whole situation.

    Jama – I'm sorry you've had such a bad run of experience with pastors. I also think it's grossly unfair to paint all of them with the brush of the few. Most pastor/clergy I have known have been wonderful if broken people doing the best they can in a troubled world.

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  6. This was a very enlightening post, especially about the new production company. I have been watching TBL since Season 1 (and my husband has been laughing at me for that long) but I had to stop watching this season. The negativity was really more than I could take. I am willing to believe that the bad behavior was carefully edited to heighten the drama, but if so I was insulted that the producers thought that this was what I wanted to watch. Either way, they lost me.

    Even given all that, mark and Buddy showed a visible lack of charity and compassion that I would have expected from pastors who claim to live in accordance with Christian teachings. I am looking at their behavior during the whole season, not the walkout in particular. I expected better of them.

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  7. The other difference here is that ALL the remaining contestants were talking about leaving. That creates a completely different situation for the producers and the show.

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  8. Thank you so much for the post Matt as it really adds a lot that I had not thought about previously. I am conflicted on this. There are thousands upon thousands of contestants that have auditioned more than once to be a part of this program. So it frustrates me anytime I see someone quit the show. While I do believe there is more to the story than meets the eye it still bothers me that Mark and Buddy left. They should know what a blessing it is to be afforded the opportunity and that others are looking to them for inspiration. On the flipside, you have to do what you feel is morally and ethically right for yourself so fans should not be posting nasty comments on their FB pages. They didn't make a popular decision but don't deserve to be harassed. I hate to hear that's happened. Bottom line is that whatever occured is not simply black and white and I agree with you that there's a lot we don't know (whether in favor of 3 Ball or the contestants). I would just really love to know the true story of what occured. 🙂

    I do have 1 issue that bothers me though….Jeremy (who I have liked all season) was upset at the idea of the show bringing back contestants sent home ('losers') but now he is one of those contenstants competing to get in the final four. Not that he shouldn't compete but he was upset about this issue and nearly walked off the show because of it. Now he is taking advantage….it's a hypocritical and opportunistic move.

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  9. Interesting post. I thought the same thing about the timeline – no way this all happened same day! But it has been an open secret for years that BL "weekly" weigh-ins of ten have more than 7 days in between.

    I agree too that there was probably more to this than what we saw, and that producers wouldn't have missed an opportunity to make themselves look good — especially after attracting a LOT of bad press in their first season. That said, I don't think most people are judging Mark based on the first 15 minutes of yesterday's show, but more based on his attitude the entire season. Honestly, if I could have paid this guy to never let anyone know he was a Christian, I would have considered it money well spent, because he came across as a manipulative jerk. And he knows it …. he heard the feedback on his home visit and in his profession, he knew he'd better do something to clean up his rep.

    So Mark's FB post hints strongly at a moral dilemma and says he had to listen to what God wanted him to do, leaving the unquestioning reader with the assumption that he was placed in an unethical situation and had to follow his religious beliefs. Since producers have already made it clear there won't be legal action against Mark & Buddy and stated they will be at finale, I think Mark felt pretty comfortable that whatever he put up on FB wasn't going to be contradicted by the production team as long as his comments were ambiguous. Sad to say it would not surprise me at all to learn that Mark staged the whole thing – whipped the other few into a frenzy and threw out a potential walkout and justify his own departure on "moral" grounds even if no one else left. As someone else said, Mark already knew he wasn't getting the money. I will add he probably couldn't risk coming home to folks pulling their kids away from his influence. So now he can be all mysterious and leave people with the impression that there is A LOT HE ISN'T SAYING. Whatever, dude.

    I feel like such a cynic typing this, but since I'm putting it out there, I may as well say it all — we will never know the truth, but I have listened (read!) Courtney Crozier defend Mark and his son all season; it's been pretty clear that Chizm befriended Courtney offscreen. And who better to restore their tarnished reputations than the BL contestant perhaps best known for fair play and positive attitude. I hope the friendship overtures were genuine on the Cornelisons' part, but I remember Chizm's hate-filled Tweets over former contestants (since deleted after someone pointed out he was violating his contract with some of his comments) and I can't help thinking these folks have a lot more layers than they have allowed Courtney to see.

    It'd be nice to be wrong though….I don't LIKE being cynical. I want my inspirational show back and am TIRED of these nasty people!

    Great column….thanks for listening.

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  10. I think what rubs me the wrong way is that Mark and Buddy took the opportunity that someone I know would have cherished as long as they had it and ran. That twist has been part of BL since the beginning. Ali Vincent was a lucky loser, coming back and winning the whole thing. She worked her butt off at home and earned her way back onto the ranch. Funny people forget that. So Mark and Buddy threw away an opportunity that others would have given their eye teeth for and spit in the face of those same people for being upset or angry. My sister auditioned for BL 12 and waited for a call-back. She didn't get it, but she is slowly working on making the changes she needs. Instead of sucking it up and playing it like a man Mark blew it. I'm tired of him and may never watch BL again.

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  11. If they signed a contract stating in the exact words, they should have stayed. Bob should have asked himself "What would Jillian do?" Too much drama!! I do agree that tv always turns stories around and I wish they would have shown more of the dialogue that led up to this fiasco. Contestents have never come back this late in the game! I think this is the last time I will watch Biggest Loser.

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  12. Allowing eliminated contestants to come back for a chance to re-enter the game is fair when you consider the concept of the show. The Biggest Loser is suppose to be about who can lose the highest percentage of weight. Yet the game allows contestants to form alliances, which in turn allows contestants to vote off their biggest threats. Anyone voted off has an incentive to continue to lose weight, knowing they still have a chance for the big prize. It would be unfair to not allow the real biggest loser a chance to win simply because they were a member of the wrong alliance.

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  13. <blockquote cite="#commentbody-47970">

    Renny M :

    Interesting post. I thought the same thing about the timeline – no way this all happened same day! But it has been an open secret for years that BL “weekly” weigh-ins of ten have more than 7 days in between.

    I agree too that there was probably more to this than what we saw, and that producers wouldn’t have missed an opportunity to make themselves look good — especially after attracting a LOT of bad press in their first season. That said, I don’t think most people are judging Mark based on the first 15 minutes of yesterday’s show, but more based on his attitude the entire season. Honestly, if I could have paid this guy to never let anyone know he was a Christian, I would have considered it money well spent, because he came across as a manipulative jerk. And he knows it …. he heard the feedback on his home visit and in his profession, he knew he’d better do something to clean up his rep.

    So Mark’s FB post hints strongly at a moral dilemma and says he had to listen to what God wanted him to do, leaving the unquestioning reader with the assumption that he was placed in an unethical situation and had to follow his religious beliefs. Since producers have already made it clear there won’t be legal action against Mark & Buddy and stated they will be at finale, I think Mark felt pretty comfortable that whatever he put up on FB wasn’t going to be contradicted by the production team as long as his comments were ambiguous. Sad to say it would not surprise me at all to learn that Mark staged the whole thing – whipped the other few into a frenzy and threw out a potential walkout and justify his own departure on “moral” grounds even if no one else left. As someone else said, Mark already knew he wasn’t getting the money. I will add he probably couldn’t risk coming home to folks pulling their kids away from his influence. So now he can be all mysterious and leave people with the impression that there is A LOT HE ISN’T SAYING. Whatever, dude.

    I feel like such a cynic typing this, but since I’m putting it out there, I may as well say it all — we will never know the truth, but I have listened (read!) Courtney Crozier defend Mark and his son all season; it’s been pretty clear that Chizm befriended Courtney offscreen. And who better to restore their tarnished reputations than the BL contestant perhaps best known for fair play and positive attitude. I hope the friendship overtures were genuine on the Cornelisons’ part, but I remember Chizm’s hate-filled Tweets over former contestants (since deleted after someone pointed out he was violating his contract with some of his comments) and I can’t help thinking these folks have a lot more layers than they have allowed Courtney to see.

    It’d be nice to be wrong though….I don’t LIKE being cynical. I want my inspirational show back and am TIRED of these nasty people!

    Great column….thanks for listening.

    "Since producers have already made it clear there won’t be legal action against Mark & Buddy and stated they will be at finale,.."

    They are going to be allowed at the finale? WHY? They quit. Are they going to be eligible for the at home prize, too!?

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    • No, they won't be eligible for any prizes. My understanding is that they will just be sitting in the audience and not on the stage.

      It's weird to me, because unless they do the same thing to the guy that left early in the third episode, it doesn't seem consistent (Ali's words to him was that it wasn't a prison and he could leave at any time).

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  14. I'm hoping you will realize that a portion of a contract is not a "prop" it is a segment of a REAL contract with REAL signatures. Lawyers typically segment contracts for reference in addition to having the full document readily available. It makes it easier for lawyers to address any specific issues a client may have. (That is also why you are often requested to, "initial here, here, and here" when you are signing many types of contracts. So they can show you were aware of the different parts and requirements of the contract).

    Furthermore the statement, "…a lawyer prepped and ready for the camera within an hour", who thought it went down within an hour? You? Because the rest of us didn't. Plus, there are many times a lawyer does have to prepare themselves regarding an ongoing case or contract within an hour and they accomplish the task. That said I'm pretty sure you did not need to explain that the "timeline" was not accurate…the viewers get it. One second they are in D.C. the next unpacked and then repacked to walk off on the ranch. We get it that people don't lose 10 pounds in the hour long episode and that the show is filmed over months.

    I don't think you understand fully why the show asked you to dress the same. You stated, "For example; in my season’s opening episode, what was portrayed as the first the 30 minutes on the ranch actually took two FULL days to film. We were told to dress the same, do our hair the same, use the same clothes (right down to the same pair of socks), etc., so that it could be edited together to represent a much shorter period of time. “ You are not correct here. Dressing the same is not to confuse the viewers into thinking that it is the same day or hour, it is simple aesthetics. With outfit changes- If the camera gets a lot of great footage 2 days out of a week one week and 4 days the next week, it is visually unappealing and complicates the storyboard. So reality game shows ask that participants dress the same coordinating to how many episodes will be filmed. The producers do not maintain to the viewers that it is the same day or hour by doing this. They are complying with a heavily researched way of marketing to an audience.

    Sorry, but it just seems as though you are suggesting that the viewers don't understand simple concepts and that's why we dislike this season; that is far from the truth. We dislike this season because with or without editing and a new production company the contestants have acted entitled and obnoxious and I'm not talking about on the show. I'm talking about on their own blogs and Facebook pages where they DO get to be the editors and producers. Seems to me the production company did a great job of show a lot of "true colors".

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  15. I couldn't AGREE WITH YOU MORE!! SO what if they are pastors, are they above the law? Maybe the lawyer just took the part of the contract out that pertained to this matter. What I have seen this season is contestants that have had a beautiful trip to Hawaii a magnification trip to the white house to meet the first lady, a complete beautiful makeover and that is just in the last month or so! Do they think they just get to pick and choose what happens on this show? Also, I am so sick of hearing these contestants decide who is deserving of being on the ranch and who isn't!!! Not everyone is former athlete or as strong as others!! Also, some of these contestants are still there because they had alliances that kept them there! When I watched this week I couldn't care less who won the car or who went home. But I sure WASN'T surprised to hear Conda say "Jeremy deserves to be here more than Kim". And Bob thinks she has changed! I hope these people get booed ate the finale, and I am never that cruel!!

    Who cares what the time line was!!

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  16. @Matthew McNutt

    Oh OK. That isn't quite so bad. Frankly I wouldn't even show up for the audience if I were them*. They held the show hostage for several days. Surely made production costs go up. Made viewers all upset. I think their 15 minutes should be up.

    *on second thought — if I were them I'd have been in the gym while everyone was plotting mutiny. Life isn't fair. You have to adapt and roll with the punches. I'll bet I've had bosses that make these producers look like Mother Teresa. But I had a job to do and a paycheck to collect, so I kept my head down and got it done.

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  17. @Blair

    I wasn't sure if I would respond or not; your comment to me was so antagonistic and honestly, I'm confused at why you're seemingly so angry with me for posting my opinions on my blog.

    Obviously lawyers will reference sections of a contract. My point was, everything we saw was staged. They had already fought it all out the previous couple days and this was sanitized performance for the cameras. The decision to use just a section was not to make it easier, it was very much to make them look silly for not remembering that part of the contract. If they pulled out a 40+ page document, every viewer would look at that and immediately understand why the contestants might not remember every word of a massive legal document they signed five months previously.

    Please don't try to inform me that I don't understand why I was told to dress the way I was as though you understand my season and filming better than I do. I was there. I lived it – have you even seen season three? Watch the first episode – it's on Netflix. They intentionally spent two days filming us in the same clothes so they could present it as one 30 minute event. They had body doubles for Caroline Rhea, Kim Lyons and Bob Harper the first day so they could all the helicopter and long distance filming of everything we would do … and they had us do it over and over all day long so they had lots of angles and footage. Then they filmed it all again the second day with the celebrities present and the camera men among us getting the closeups. Timing is fake. Normally we were told to just wear our team colors – the shirt didn't matter as long as it was the right color. It wasn't until later seasons that they had contestants in the BL shirts all the time.

    I'm also not sure why you're reacting so violently to my calling out the timing of the episode. They tried to pretend it all happened in two hours; they had a clock in the corner saying the time. There's no way it went from the contestants threatening to walk to resolved two hours later. It's a 1-3 hour drive (depending on traffic) from production offices to the ranch! The celebrity trainers and host can't be there that quick. The lawyers won't have the contracts reviewed, prepped and their makeup on for camera, as well as the drive in to the ranch that quickly. I was simply pointing that out.

    I wish we had seen the real story. There IS footage of the five contestants finding out, making the decision together to quit, and getting to the point of sitting there refusing to talk. We would have learned a lot more about motives, ringleaders, and what actually happened if we had seen any of that instead of the staged shots we actually saw.

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  18. Matthew,

    Thank you for braving the backlash of venom that is clearly aimed at you now for simply sharing your well informed insights. I go to church with Mark. I don't know him as well as many, but I do know enough to believe with every fiber of my being that this is WAY more than an issue of fairness of whether contestants get to come back or not. I don't doubt that the issue was in play somehow or they wouldn't have gotten them to talk about it for their editing, but it doesn't add up why Mark wouldn't have been excited at the chance for Chizm to make it back on the show.

    There is NO WAY Mark and Buddy went into this decision without knowing how they would be portrayed and the consequences of any attempt to defend themselves. So that begs the question: How horrible was the thing the producers did that (initially all five, but ultimately just) they were willing to lay down a chance at a quarter of a million dollars and knowingly subject themselves to this kind of vilification? I strive to be more like Jesus everyday, but I would have to be pretty torn up about something to subject myself to what they've been through. It's inconceivable that they "threw it all away" simply because of a twist in the game.

    I also found it convenient how Alison boldly proclaims in one episode that The Biggest Loser is not a prison and then when it suits them differently, suddenly Mark and Buddy aren't living up to their end of the bargain. I don't know who the spinster is, but they should land a job in politics.

    Lastly, I just find it so disheartening that even when someone like yourself can lay down some simple objective facts which open up the possibility that Mark and Buddy might not be as bad as they've been made out to be, there are so many people simply filled with hate that can't even consider what you say. They would rather blindly accept what they've been feed on TV as the truth. Now you're suddenly an apologist and whatever adjectives best fit Blair's post for taking the time to enlighten a few people.

    Thanks again for speaking up. While none of us will ever know what really happened in those DAYS, at least those that have the wisdom to consider what the unrepresented side of the story might be will be able to use your insight to realize that things aren't always what they seem.

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  19. Well Matthew, I for one want to thank you very much for your very well-informed comments. Your posts have been a revelation to me as a [former] fan of the show. Putting yourself and your thoughts "out there" for the world to see (and criticize) is difficult, but I am sure that you are reaching more people than you know. The critics are the ones who will take to the keyboard, but for every one of those there are many others who are thoughtfully considering your posts. Thank you.

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  20. <blockquote cite="#commentbody-48034">

    DonnaD :

    Well Matthew, I for one want to thank you very much for your very well-informed comments. Your posts have been a revelation to me as a [former] fan of the show. Putting yourself and your thoughts “out there” for the world to see (and criticize) is difficult, but I am sure that you are reaching more people than you know. The critics are the ones who will take to the keyboard, but for every one of those there are many others who are thoughtfully considering your posts. Thank you.

    Thank you Donna, for your very well written post and for you representing so many of us who feel exactly the same way as you do.

    I so appreciate Matt and his willingness to give his time, to help us understand the workings of the show (as so many of us have had, and / or continue to have dreams of making it to the ranch one day).

    Matt's posts have certainly opened my eyes as to what a contestant could be up against.

    Thank you again.

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  21. Todd,

    I don't know Mark at all, but he seemed a pretty bright guy on the show. I have to think he knew he was already out of the running to win the money….he'd pretty much lost all his weight before he left the ranch….so he may have reasoned that walking out wasn't actually costing him anything. Since Mark had recently been home, he may have already known Chizm was not a strong contender to make it back onto the show.

    Obviously your church must see a very different side to this gentleman, and some of what we saw was almost certainly spin, but just as clearly a lot of it was not. In reading Matt's own story on this blog, it sounds like dealing with his physical issues freed him to concentrate on the spiritual gaps in his life. I will pray that this will be the case for Mark.

    I also pray for your church during this difficult time….I can't even imagine how difficult this situation must be for church members as events have continued to play out in the public eye, and I am sure that is true regardless of which side members are taking. My own church recently saw its pastor reassigned after some internal dissension. It has been pretty awful, but at least we didn't have to watch the situation being broadcast on national television.

    God has a plan, and I believe these events will be used to further His purpose.

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  22. If there is anything I have learned from your comments, Matt, it is that I can lose weight without being on a dramatized reality show. I just need to get up and do it and walk in His Grace. I appreciate your candidness regarding BL and what it is like behind the scenes. I did think that it would be exciting to be on the show, but now I realize it would not be worth the emotional sacrifice, and I just could not deal with the "game play".

    I've seen alot of banter on various sites about BL… and it's disheartening to see people tear each other apart….and people they don't even know. I am ashamed for even thinking I knew the contestants…. it's all dramatized and sanatized and only God knows the truth.

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  23. God has a plan, and I believe these events will be used to further His purpose.

    @Renny M

    Renny, this last part of your comment is just about the only thing I can say with any assurance about the whole sorry display this season, where the actual words, facial expressions, attitudes and actions of two pastors were shown on nationwide TV.

    I do feel great sorrow for the churches where they serve and pray their behavior on camera does not bring any more shadow across the cause of Christ than has already occurred.

    Yes– thankfully, God DOES have a plan…and He can use even those things we see as "the worst" as a means to ultimately bring glory to Himself. If we did not have Romans 8:28 to rely upon, we would be "of all people most miserable."

    Kindest regards–

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  24. Dear Matt–

    I'm so glad I found your blog! You are a blessing. (I fear this will take the record for the longest reply you’ve ever received…)

    By way of introduction, I know I'm old enough to be your mom, having served in Christian ministry for 30+ years, either as spouse of a pastor, staff member myself, and currently as a writer/editor for Love Worth Finding Ministries, the broadcast teaching ministry of the late Dr. Adrian Rogers, still seen nationwide.

    What fuels my desire to get into this fracas—and so grieved to have to do so—is

    (a.) I've faithfully watched every episode of TBL since I discovered it in Season 2 and

    (b.) I'm a decades-long family friend of Olivia and Hannah Curlee, winner and runner-up from BL11. Two more delightful girls never walked the earth–and they get it from their parents, Keith and Betsy.

    Over 30 years ago, Keith and Betsy and my husband and I were young marrieds together in a small group fellowship. I'll never forget Olivia's birth, and Betsy was carrying Hannah at the same time I was carrying our first child.

    I wanted to give you that backstory, so you would know I’m a friendly voice…and HIGHLY familiar with the Biggest Loser both as a fan and one who has heard so much of the behind-the-scenes story.

    All you said about the production companies and the editing, etc.–true. No one argues that.

    That having been said, here is one key point that so many are missing.

    What deeply grieves me–and I believe grieves the Holy Spirit–is the way in which the Gospel of Christ (or at least, Christian ministers) came across for the PREVIOUS 16 weeks on this show, long before the “walkout.”

    Matt, I've spoken with two other co-workers (both BL fans and in Christian ministry), and their take is the same as mine.

    Granted that we don't know what hit the cutting room floor. But what no one can argue is the fact that unless the producers "photoshopped" unpleasant expressions onto Mark's face…unless they hired voice-over actors to dub in sentences they never said…unless the camera caught them in truly weird, unrelated moments with attitudes no one can account for, there is NO DENYING what was actually captured on film. What America saw for 16 weeks. the terrible attitudes, the lack of humility or even Christian kindness. The strutting pride mark exhibited over and over. If he never actually SAID or DID what was caught on film, then they have one heck of a great animation department. What a contrast Mark and Buddy are from others who have been openly Christian on the show and actually conducted themselves in a manner honoring to the Lord.

    Matt–there was an episode where they had to "BLEEP" out one of Pastor Mark's epithets. I don’t know about the church where you serve, but if I or any of the pastors on staff at the mega-church I'm associated with were to say something on nationwide TV which had to be BLEEPED, I can promise you, the day we returned to our office at church, we would be called into the Senior Pastor for a serious talk. Most likely we would be asked for our resignation.

    Mark and buddy KNEW, going into this that their every word, their every expression, their every raised eyebrow would be caught on film and could be used. Instead of being extra-careful to avoid bringing dishonor to the name of Christ, it seemed they set it down at the Randy gate and left it there for 16 weeks. If Olivia and Hannah could get through the same grinding challenge that M and B did without dishonoring the Lord, I have to believe these 2 pastors could have.

    Lastly, I’ll end with what someone wrote on NBC’s BL public message board. It speaks volumes to how M and B were perceived by the viewers. Obviously a Christian, he writes:

    “Shockingly poor testimony for pastors!! They exhibited the most arrogant, self-righteous, ungrateful, unthankful, selfish behavior possible. Did they ever stop to consider for one moment what an incredible gift they were given to make it onto the show, and all the blessings that came with it? They have had the benefit of thousands of dollars worth of medical tests and evaluations, food, housing, weeks of training with the best trainers anywhere, vacations to Hawaii, makeovers, free clothes, trips to Washington DC, opportunity to meet the First Lady, and these bozos are whining because the producers might bring back an eliminated player? They signed a contract acknowledging that fact– yet they still walked off in their arrogance? They complain that they should have the power to play the game their way…really? That kind of pride is breathtaking! Where is the humility of a true man of God?? If they had an ounce of integrity they would have humbled themselves and acknowledged any eliminated player that came back would have had to work twice as hard, not having any further advantages of the ranch. These men should hang their heads in shame for how they have dishonored themselves, their families, and their communities…and especially their churches and the name of Jesus.

    You see, Matt—editing or no editing, you just cannot edit out the true heart of a person over 16 long weeks. From the very beginning, we watched in dismay as these men—more Mark than Buddy—behaved so badly”.

    “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”.

    I hope you don’t attempt to read this tonight! You have tomorrow to prep for. And THAT is what really counts.

    Thank you for your unspotted testimony for our Lord.

    In His service,

    Carol Anne

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  25. Didn't think you would interpret my reaction as "violent", I didn't intend it to be , I'm not very sensitive though, so if you felt attacked, I'm sorry.

    I certainly wasn't implying that things that happened occurred within the hour; I was saying that we know things don't happen in the timeline they are edited into.

    I can assure you the scenes with the attorney were NOT "staged"; I have personal knowledge via 25/7 on the specific episode you discussed. You should know 3 Ball is working on production with BL too. I don't know about seasons 1-12 but for 13 they are certainly there. Jeff also knew the ins and outs of the contract needing very little time at all to prep and 0 time upon arrival. While you may have been in front of the camera you are not in the law offices behind the camera. I don't expect you to understand how that portion works. Again, I wasn't being mean, sorry, if it came across that way.

    You seem to be suggesting that I'm saying that they don't have you film the "same" for multiple reasons and that was not what I said at all. I was merely suggesting your implication leaned towards the show trying to snow the viewer into thinking an hour episode is filmed in the same day or couple days (and not tons of footage edited together) was not correct. Perhaps this post/reply thing is a type of miscommunication which just happens with different personalities.

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  26. @Carol Anne

    I would encourage you to look at my latest blog post, https://matthewmcnutt.com/?p=3785. I talk a little more about editing in it.

    I still give both men the benefit of the doubt. It is incredibly easy to splice together different shots to communicate whatever they want. With cameras on the cast 24/7, it is very easy to capture all types of expressions.

    As far as Mark being bleeped, I give him the benefit of the doubt there as well; I go into it more so on my blog post I linked to, but in my season there was a devoutly religious contestant who never swore on the ranch, yet was bleeped all the time every episode. They edited her as one of several villains, took innocent words and bleeped them making it appear as though she was foul mouthed. While they have to bleep foul language, there is no law limiting them to just bleeping offensive words. It's pretty clear in the contract that they can manipulate and create whatever impression they want about someone, regardless of reality.

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