TV Insider: Boy George Attempts to Re-Conquer America Via a New Reality Show Michael Schneider
Boy George hopes you’ll tumble 4 him all over again.
The 1980s pop star is moving to America, and bringing reality TV cameras with him. Bunim-Murray Productions, the company behind The Real World (and a producer of Keeping Up with the Kardashians) is partnering with Boy George to produce a reality docu-series about the next stage of his life.
According to Bunim-Murray, the show will follow the star as he house hunts, dates, launches a vegan food line, embarks on Culture Club’s North American tour and manages his pop group Brando. Shooting begins this summer after he arrives in Los Angeles. Bunim-Murray is currently shopping the show to networks.
“Boy George is a musical and cultural icon, and it’s about time someone captured his story,” says Gil Goldschein, Chairman and CEO of Bunim-Murray.
Boy George’s manager, Paul Kemsley, brought the project to Bunim-Murray along with film producer Cindy Cowan (Very Bad Things).
Boy George talked with us about the new show, what he hopes to accomplish in America, how he feels like he’s in a “good place” following several brushes with the law in the 2000s (including a brief prison stint in the U.K.), and how his famous 1980s eyebrows are making a fashion comeback.
Tell me about this reality project and why you decided to do it.
It’s a bit of an unknown quantity, because nobody is sure what it’s going to be yet. It’s a very popular art form but when you sit down and say, “What is it going to be?” It’s almost impossible to say. You put all the characters in place and all those personalities, you don’t really know what’s going to happen. My point of view is, how hard can it be to be me? I’ve been doing it for 54 years. The question is, “Is that interesting?” I think I’m pretty interesting. (Laughs). We’ll find out.
Do you watch many reality shows, like Keeping Up with the Kardashians?
I’ve been watching them more recently since I decided to do this. It’s fascinating. I’m very different from the Kardashians because I actually do wash up and stuff. Maybe I’ll be a sensation because I recycle.
What might we learn about Boy George? What misconceptions might this show clear up?
That remains to be seen. I don’t think people know me at all. They certainly don’t know me as a multi-faceted person. I think we’re all guilty of that, I see people on TV and think I know all about them from their public persona. But you don’t really know everything. I think of myself as quite a complex person. I think I’m honest. It’s one of those things it will become clear once we start the process.
What is the process?
I’m coming to America. Well, I’m coming to America anyway, regardless of this show or not. And I’m going to have to do certain things to be in L.A., like find a home, drive. I can drive, but it’s been a while since I’ve been behind the wheel. That could be pure comedy in itself. And I like the idea of inviting people into the creative process. I want to work with musicians, and I do a lot of writing. I’m always interested in taking people on a spiritual journey. I’m a Buddhist. I’m in recovery. These are things that can be helpful to other people. If they see me as a role model in that respect. I’m seven years sober. That’s an active part of my life. Also, being in America is going to be a big adventure to me.
You’ve got the Culture Club tour in North America. How much of that will be chronicled?
I’m not sure we’ll be ready to film this tour, but hopefully we will and get this going as soon as possible. I’d like to involve that in the show because Culture Club is a very colorful entity. Culture Club is a soap opera on its own. That could be a spinoff. It will be fun to have the guys around. It’s been a while since we’ve been on the road. And you have my new manager P.K., who will possibly wind up with his own show anyway. He’s an interesting and funny man. I feel that I have a lot of fun people in my life that would be good to introduce to America.
Why do this now?
I’ve been approached before. [A British judge denied his request in 2009 to join the cast ofCelebrity Big Brother because he had been released from prison early after being convicted of false imprisonment.] It’s always there, these things are so much a part of what people do now. This is a different animal because you have a certain amount of control over it. No one is going to be dropping dunk on me from the sky or making me do anything I don’t want to do.
Do you think those celebrity reality shows are mean-spirited?
I think those TV shows are about humiliating celebrities and making them like everyone else. Removing the mystery. Which is not something I’m interested in.
It was 30 years ago you became a pop culture phenomenon in America. Talk about your desire to return.
I’ve never been overexposed in America. It’s been awhile since I’ve been on American TV. Maybe it’s time.
Do you hope this leads to other opportunities?
I’ve got all sorts of ideas. I’m at a point in my life where it’s about creating new adventures. Music will always be my greatest passion. It’s the driving force of my creative life. But now there are other things you need to do. People don’t really buy records anymore. People don’t care about records the way I did when I was 14. Those things were sacred. But the world is different now. Everyone has stolen my eyebrows. I need to get them back. Everyone knows those eyebrows are my eyebrows. It’s interesting to walk around London and see all these people with my eyebrows.
How else have things changed for you?
The rules are different now. I’ve been in the dance world the last 25 years, DJing all over the world. I haven’t had my foot in the rock world recently. Having come back to it, I see that all the old rules, all the old ways have changed, how you do things no longer exist. So trying to do things the way I did it decades ago would be ridiculous. In a way, having a show like this is a great platform in order to tell people about what you’re doing, invite them into your creative space. That opens all sorts of doors.
You’ve had some difficult times, but it sounds like you’re in a good place right now.
I’m in a very good place right now.
Have the cameras started following you yet?
They haven’t. I feel like I’m enjoying the last few days of privacy right now. I was out cycling in London today and having a nice time. But I’m ready for this. Once I made my mind up, I was all in.
When do you move to America? When does the process start?
I’ll be in America for about two weeks. I’ll be looking for a house. I can’t wait. I might be your neighbor!
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