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The balloon boy: A reality show on life behind bars?

October 19, 2009 |  9:08 am

Heene Who needs reality shows when we have fiction parading as reality? Or is it the other way around? First there was the media's breathless, moment-by-moment coverage of the silver balloon floating above the Colorado landscape, supposedly with a 6-year-old boy inside. The dramatic crash landing, the discovery that the boy was safe at home, not in the balloon. Then comes the Larimer County sheriff's office accusation that the parents, Richard and Mayumi Heene, plotted the whole thing as a hoax to try to wangle their way into a reality-show contract, only to be undone when 6-year-old Falcon revealed during an interview that he had hidden himself for hours because "You said we were doing this for a show." Lots of reality show in that moment.

Kids do say the darnedest things sometimes.

If the accusation against Ma and Pa Heene is true, the incident obviously reflects the bizarre extremes of our anything-for-a-Hollywood-contract society. It's just hard to figure out what's most bizarre: That people would concoct such an elaborate and expensive hoax, that they would obliviously imagine that no one would suspect, or that they actually would think this whole thing had legs as a reality show that anyone would want to watch. Then again, after Nadya Suleman the Octomom got her own show, who am I to be surprised? Not that she's taking much audience share with her so far.

Oddest of all is that the Heenes might get exactly what they supposedly wanted, if not precisely in the way they'd allegedly planned. The story of deal-obsessed parents going to extreme lengths to get their moments on TV should be good for at minimum an exclusive People mag interview. And if the case really goes all the way to a conviction and sentence, imagine the mileage to be gotten out of the parents' lives as they concoct a video series taped from prison. Think of the family reunions and the cute things Falcon will say next. Beats Jon and Kate any day.

Photo of Richard Heene with sons Ryo, middle, and Falcon. Credit: David Zalubowski / AP--

--Karin Klein


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