He’s best known as the bumbling but wise “Cliff Clavin” on the former tv show “cheers,” but actor John Ratzenberger is far more than that. He is also a tv show host of Travel Channel’s “Made in America,” a producer and most importantly, a CT native.
Ratzenberger is a Bridgeport guy who graduated from Sacred Heart University before beginning his acting career. That success was not enough for him though. And his newest venture with partners Jeff Solomon and Shaun O’Hallaren? An online platform show RealityTVStar.com designed to give the everyday guy a chance to pitch a tv reality show idea to major stations.
Insisting that everyone has a story and there is potential everywhere, Ratzenberger raved about his new concept and his days in Connecticut as he Spilled the Beans with Java.
Q: Is RealityTVStar.com a tv website or a job fair?
A: It’s a site that everybody has access to including the decision makers of Hollywood looking for a new reality show. A lot of people have good ideas for a tv show but where do they go with it? If they don’t know someone in the program decision-making loop, you are out of luck. You can’t just call a network. You’re not going to get past the receptionist. With our website, you send a clip of you explaining the idea and we post it, it gets voted on by community-at-large and we take those demographics to a network and pitch it. We do the pre-screening for the network.
Q: So you need to get people to vote on line meaning it could be more of a popularity contest, not necessarily the measure of a potentially good show?
A: It’s not a contest, we just ask people do you like this or not. We only consider the votes an indication. We also make our own gut decisions when we look at submissions.
Q: What is the intrigue with reality shows and haven’t all that can be done, been done by now?
A: That is like the head of the patent department in 1850 saying everything that has been invented has been invented. There is always something new. People still come up to me with “I have a great idea for a show” and they do. Everyone is familiar with internet. Everyone knows how to operate camera on a cell phone, everybody has an idea. We are making it possible to get those ideas out there and for the networks, screened ideas they may never have seen.
Q: What are the real chances of someone landing a tv show from your site?
A: Very real. Don’t forget that tv is a monster that needs constant feeding and the networks are hungry for ideas. That is why they hire people to travel around the country looking for crab fisherman and alligator hunters. We are reversing the process. We also know what networks are looking for. The networks traditionally cast out into the ocean with one rod. We go out with nets and bring them lots of choices.
Q: I know the site went up a couple of weeks ago. Results so far?
A: The response has been phenomenal so far. There are two I like.
Q: What would the show potential be from Bridgeport CT?
A: Bridgeport itself is a reality show! Seriously, there is so much going on down there and it is such a colorful city. I’d like to see something done right from downtown. Maybe follow one of the judges around. Or a public works guy with a dump truck because that was my job when I lived there. Bridgeport also has so many restaurants I would love to put cameras in the kitchen or follow people who ride the ferry to New York. The possibilities are endless.
Q: If Cliff were submitting a video what would the reality show be named?
A: Cliff would do a video on the post office. He was so proud of the post office and so proud of being mail carrier. In his mind, everything had potential.
Q: Can you offer some hints as to what attracts an audience?
A: Look at shows that are popular, “Duck Dynasty” and “Honey Boo Boo.” When you step back and look at these kinds of shows, they are about families that love and support each other and that is the reason for their popularity.