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Good Question: How Real Is Reality TV?

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(credit: CBS) Jason DeRusha
Jason DeRusha filed his first report for WCCO-TV on April Fool's D...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Reality TV is so popular, publishers are about to launch a new weekly magazine about it: “Reality Weekly” launches in January.

Thanks to local guy Kris Humphries, Minnesota got all caught up in the Kardashian divorce drama. But is what’s going on reality TV worth all the drama? And how real is it?

“I never ever imagined I would be in this space right now,” said Gretchen Rossi, a cast member on “Real Housewives of Orange County,” which is on Bravo TV.

“Why would you leave a nice normal life and go on a reality show?” asked WCCO-TV reporter Jason DeRusha.

“I know, that’s the million dollar question, right?” said Rossi. “I got into it for business reasons. The whole celebrity, fame, stuff that comes along with it is fleeting to me. Tomorrow I might be off the show and people won’t remember my name.”

So far, the business part has paid off. She got paid to come to JB Hudson Jewelers in Minneapolis to meet customers. She has her own Gretchen Christine makeup line and handbags, too.

“I sell tanning products. I have tees and tanks. I have bling. I have a lot of stuff,” she said.

The personal cost for reality stars can be steep, though. Google “Gretchen Rossi” and you’ll find personal scandal, gossip and innuendo.

“Is the tradeoff worth it?” asked DeRusha.

“Honestly, if I could do it all over again, I’d probably say no to the show,” she answered. “It really does turn your life upside down, you have to have very thick skin and be a strong person to deal with the scrutiny that comes along the way.”

Not surprisingly, reality shows like the Real Housewives aren’t exactly reality.

“It is about a 5-month stint of daily filming. Then you do what’s called pickups, you fill in the blanks of areas they need,” said Rossi.

Producers do re-shoots to fix the audio. It’s why some think reality TV should be called: Partially-scripted TV.

The producers create situations, the editors craft story-lines, but the people and the feelings are real.

“People don’t know who you are, they know 5 percent. They know the TV character,” said Rossi.

Rossi said she gets paid by the show, but she said it’s not a lot.

Clearly, to build the business, you have to get attention, which often times means scandal.

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