Reality TV super-producer Mark Burnett chats about his new show, Wedding Day. The mastermind behind Survivor, The Apprentice and The Bachelor, undeniably has the reality TV Midas touch.
Planning a wedding is stressful under the best conditions, but add in sick children, unemployment or deployment to Iraq and even the most stable people are bound to crack! Enter Mark Burnett and his team. Together, they’re going to help deserving couples get the wedding they’ve always wanted. It’s TNT’s new reality series Wedding Day and producer Mark Burnett sat down with me to talk about it.
SheKnows: Mark, there are a lot of reality shows on TV right now, why should people tune in to Wedding Day?
Mark Burnett: It’s a heartwarming show; haven’t spoken to anybody who hasn’t felt a little moistness around the eyes, a lump in your throat when you watch these stories. When TNT first mentioned this to me I thought, ‘wow, weddings.’ I started looking into the casting and that’s when I really realized I wanted to make this show.
SheKnows: You have some pretty amazing stories here. A bride who was in a near-fatal car crash, two Army Captains who were shipped to Iraq, a couple burdened by a mountain of medical bills…
Mark Burnett: It’s these stories of people who’ve done so much for others, whether it’s their job as a cop or the military or teaching, or with charities and that kind of thing, and now they want to get married, it’s their big day — but they can’t afford a beautiful wedding. I mean literally, going to just have a little cut-price wedding and it’s ironic, you know, how much they’ve done for others and now, now I’m giving to them.
Wedding planning makes great TV
SheKnows: Planning a wedding is a huge undertaking, but you guys do it in a week! How?
Mark Burnett: You know what, when you’ve got focus and you’re all unto one purpose, it actually creates a good sense of pacing, when there’s a ticking clock. We have Allan Dunn and Diann Valentine, both expert wedding planners and event planners. We also have their family members actually participate in the building of the wedding environment, and we hired a show-runner who worked on Extreme Home Makeover for a long time and there’s a similar vibe.
SheKnows: I remember how crazed I was at my own wedding, I can’t imagine having a camera crew following me around.
Mark Burnett: Well you know, it’s interesting; if you watch a movie with a bad actor, you can spot it and you’re like, I don’t believe this actor is really that person, it doesn’t make sense to me, you know. And in non-fiction, you can tell if people are hamming for the camera — but a wedding show — it’s really important. The family members, it’s not about them, it’s about the couple getting married. And so these weren’t people who wanted to be on TV and get famous — they just wanted a great wedding.
SheKnows: Were there any particularly extravagant or outrageous requests?
Mark Burnett: No request was too big, but you tend to find, when you’re dealing with real working people; they’re not the kind of people who are going to make some crazy request. We got one bride who said, you know, we’re an Irish family and we respect the old Irish music and the themes of old Ireland and I’d like some Irish theme. Totally out of left field, you know, but you know what? We built a totally old Irish chapel for them to get married in. Anything can be achieved. We’re talking about Hollywood. If you’re willing to spend the money, you could say, ‘we need to be in Fall,’ and you could have every leaf painted orange. Leaf by leaf, shoot the scene, then clean the tree and go back to Spring. The good news is, these are real people who are not gonna make ugly extravagant requests, but we are going to surpass what they want. And we are going to give these deserving couples, so much. And it’s important.
SheKnows: Any wedding you’re particularly proud of?
Mark Burnett: We did a few in Detroit, which was very interesting. We didn’t realize, when we started to plan this thing, what would happen last October with the melt-down in the economy so we got a pretty, particularly hard hit area here and here’s a bit of good news for them and its uplifting, you know.
SheKnows: Mark, you’ve created some truly groundbreaking TV shows such as Survivor, The Apprentice and Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? If you were going to be a participant on one of your own shows which show would you like to be on?
Mark Burnett: Oh, I’d want to be on Survivor. Because I just really like what it stands for, I really like the idea of the Robinson Crusoe, Cast Away, Lord of the Flies, and I love the fact that the way you win Survivor is the people you’ve gotten rid of, grant you the million dollars. Therefore, how you treated them comes back to you and I’m really into that. A show I never want to be on is Wedding Day, because I’m already happily married.