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Inside Move: Fiction bites back on TV

Spike's 'Joe' throws reality a curve

With no end in sight to the reality TV tidal wave, actors and writers have been in a tizzy. But there is one unscripted skein that may ease the worries of white-knuckled SAG and WGA members.

Spike TV’s new fall entry “The Joe Schmo Show” takes back the reality genre for fiction-loving folk, proving reality and creative talent don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

“Schmo,” bowing Sept. 2, follows real-life pizza delivery boy Matt Gould as he competes on the latest “Survivor”-style reality show. The twist: He’s the only real thing about the show.

Unbeknownst to Gould, the pseudo-reality show he finds himself in, called “Lap of Luxury,” pits him against eight prototype reality personalities including “The Grizzled Veteran,” “The Gay Guy” and “The Bitch” — all played by card-carrying thesps.

Players live together in a mansion and vie for $100,000 by competing in “Pampering Competitions” and “Lord of the Manor Immunity Showdowns.”

The 10-seg reality parody was entirely scripted, with the initial draft running 95 pages.

“It’s very much a WGA show,” says series co-creator and exec producer Rhett Reese, who helped pen the animated features “Monsters, Inc.” and “Dinosaur.” “We sat in a writers room with a storyboard just like they do on the set of sitcoms.”

The craze for all-real, all-the-time has meant the loss of hundreds of jobs in TV’s creative community. But “Schmo” employed six writers, among them “Friends” scribe Michael Curtis and J. Holland Moore from “Big Brother.”

“Schmo” also cast a line into untapped pools of working actors.

“We obviously couldn’t use recognizable actors, so it forced us to go with first-timers and unknowns,” Reese says. “We got to give people with maybe a little less experience a chance to flex their muscles.”