A closer look at the credits of True Tori—which include studio teachers, a makeup artist, promotional considerations and story producers—only seem to confirm suspicions that the events depicted on Tori Spelling's new reality show are not being documented, but rather, are staged.
On last night's episode, Tori's oldest child, 7-year-old Liam, continued to play a pivotal role in the series. In one disturbing scene he gives his mom a bunch of attitude in a party supply store, and Tori calmly diffuses the situation. Then he lashes out on the paparazzi waiting in the parking lot. It was supposed to demonstrate how Tori and Dean's marital problems—and the spotlight of fame—were affecting the boy's behavior.
Later, Dean returns home from rehab just before Liam's birthday party and the change in his mood is immediate—something the couple remarks on right in front of him in what appears to be a heavily-outlined scene shot with meticulous camera angles.
It seems overly cynical to assume that little Liam is acting for the show. However, credits rolling at the end of True Tori reveal acknowledge two studio teachers: Carmen Khotsikian and Michael Simon. California child labor laws are pretty specific about the use of studio teachers, who are required on set for all minors with a valid Entertainment Work Permit if the children are missing regular attendance of school in order to film. So it would appear that, on paper at least, Liam is an employee of the production company behind True Tori.
But back to Liam's Minecraft-themed backyard birthday party: Tori was photographed by paparazzi filming the scene in the party supply store with Liam on April 3 (using Dean's credit card and license to purchase the items). Then she was photographed filming her visit to Dean in treatment on April 4. The party happened sometime after that.
However, Liam's birthday is in the beginning of March. And Tori blogged about his party—a Skylander-themed celebration at Pump It Up—on March 20. So it would seem that the backyard party several weeks later—which was supposedly stressing Tori out as she operated as a single mom to throw her little boy the party of his dreams—wasn't really necessary for any reason other than to create the drama of having Dean around Tori's judgmental and angry friends for the first time since his cheating scandal.
Then there are the story producers listed in the credits at the end of the show, but who are absent from the show's IMDb page. Story producers are essentially writers for reality TV. Troy DeVolld, who has worked on a number of reality shows like The Osbournes and Basketball Wives, is very open about how reality TV gets "written," although it can't necessarily be described that way since the genre is not covered by the Writers Guild of America. He says:
When you talk about something being contrived, it's going to loosely start with, "Okay, Thursday, we're going to bring you and your friend together. You're going to sit in a restaurant, and you're going to have a conversation about this thing that's going on with the both of you." If that conversation turns left, you have to re-adjust everything you planned out, so it's fairly fluid most of the way through. Duck Dynasty is a great example of something [where] you really feel like you're seeing the hand of the producer on that show a bit more. Everyone on that show is full of bon mots and does these amazing interviews. I think there's a one-in-a-thousand chance that those personalities are 100-percent coming up with their own material. That stuff is being fed to them, in my opinion.
Steve Youel, a story producer for True Tori, states some of his skills on his LinkedIn:
Create and conceptualize storylines;
Locate and audition cast members;
Develop detailed pre-and post production schedules;
Secure clearances for shoot locations.
Auditioning cast members and creating storylines seem like pretty run-of-the-mill job descriptions for a filmmaker—except that Youel has worked exclusively in reality TV.
Kevin Lowe, another story producer credited on True Tori, says up front that he's a writer pursuing work in reality television. There have been three to five story producers/associate story producers credited for each episode of True Tori thus far.
Additionally, there has also been a makeup artist (Brandy Sharp who has worked with Tori on her previous reality show, as well as her scripted show Notorious) listed in the credits, as well as "promotional consideration" provided by companies like expensive home furnishing stores that undoubtedly furnished the Spelling-McDermott home free of charge.
Tori says that she's been a patient of Dr. Wexler's "off-and-on" since her late 20s. Does she look familiar? She was the couples therapist featured on Gene Simmons Family Jewels. Interestingly, if you type "Gene Simmons Family Jewels" into a Google search the first thing that pops up is "fake."
The big drama bomb that was dropped on last night's episode was that Dean had suicidal ideations after the cheating scandal emerged. This caused Dr. Wexler to step out of their therapy session so she could speak with production. Cameras continued to roll on Tori and Dean and they discuss how to proceed now that their big secret was out.
Apparently, it turned into a legal issue regarding whether or not Dean was mentally fit to continue filming. No time frame was given, but a third party evidently gave the all-clear.
During the turmoil though, Tori leaves the room to find a producer. She and Dean end up having a conversation out in the hall, managing to stop at a perfect angle for the camera to catch Tori's reflection in the glass of a picture frame. Though the conversation was meant to be private, Tori—who has worked in the industry since she was a child, and has worked in the genre of reality television for the past seven years—did not remember to turn her mic pack off.