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Reality show ticks off techies



Published: Mon, November 5, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

Los Angeles Times

SAN FRANCISCO

It was only a matter of time before reality show producers trained their cameras on Silicon Valley.

High-tech’s promised land has money, power and more ambition per square foot than just about anywhere on the planet.

“Start-ups: Silicon Valley” is a new series chronicling the lives of six young entrepreneurs that will debut on the Bravo network at 10 p.m. tonight.

But tech insiders here are fuming that the reality show is more silicone than silicon.

Unlike New Jersey, which has embraced the tequila-chugging, spray-tan zeitgeist of Snooki and the ‘Jersey Shore’ gang, or Southern California, where every waiter is a reality-show wannabe, Silicon Valley takes itself seriously.

Previews that show the telegenic “Start-ups” cast cavorting in nightclubs and at toga parties have some people cringing.

“Here Comes Silicon Valley Boo Boo,” snarked TechCrunch co-editor Alexa Tsotsis.

“It is quite literally making us look like ‘The Jersey Shore,’ only without the tans,” raged Silicon Valley blogger Sarah Lacy after watching a preview for the show.

What made Lacy even madder: This wasn’t just entertainment industry types, looking to make a quick buck, but also a connected Silicon Valley insider.

Randi Zuckerberg, Mark Zuckerberg’s sister and an early Facebook Inc. employee, signed on to the show as an executive producer.

Now she’s taking heat for selling out Silicon Valley to Hollywood.

Zuckerberg says she’s not surprised at the prickly reaction.

“This is the first show that has flung open the doors of this community that tends to be very insular,” she said.

Her message to critics: Lighten up already. It’s cable TV, not a PBS documentary, Zuckerberg said.

Viewers expect over-the-top drama; otherwise they wouldn’t tune in. But that doesn’t mean the show can’t inform and inspire, she said.

She promises a mix of the high-tech drama that comes from the tough business of building a start-up from scratch and the claw-your-eyes-out drama that has made rich housewives and master chefs so popular in prime time.

“At the end of the day, we want to make great TV,” Zuckerberg said.


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