“Carlos,” you might say. “Carlos, me and my man are gonna break up.” Carlos King listens attentively. He mmhms. He’s there for you. Then he says: “So, you wanna do Thursday at 1 p.m.? You wanna do it at Trump Towers? You wanna talk to one of your girlfriends about it now?”
Then, he rushes into action to make it happen. King is a 36-year-old star reality-television producer who’s made his name by owning the seductive and salacious market of Atlanta, Georgia. King was the executive producer of the wildly popular, positively cult-classic Real Housewives of Atlanta — which has regularly grabbed more than 3 million viewers over its seven seasons so far. Now Housewives continues on without him; he’s working on two new brainchildren: Selling It in the ATL, following the lives of female real estate agents trying to outcompete one another to hawk their wares, and The Next 15, which invites erstwhile reality television stars to try for another shot.
Depending on your palate, The Next 15 is either as delicious as reality programming gets, or as distasteful. Either way, it represents a new trend that King refers to as “breaking the fourth wall” — producers have decided the new frontier for reality is to put themselves on screen. King is on camera, as a “transparent” producer for some 20 or 30 percent of every show, he tells me. He was partially inspired by the Lifetime sleeper hit Unreal — a scripted show that looks behind the scenes of a Bachelor-esque series. You’ve gotta admire the artistry: Like a cinematographer, King has identified another camera angle, another way to engineer drama.