The 25-year-old Connecticut native discusses giving over control of his life to millions of viewers for Seth Green's new Internet reality program
Ever wonder what it would be like to control the life of someone you watched on TV? Well, now you can, thanks to your friends at Robot Chicken and The Bachelor/The Bachelorette, with a new interactive Internet reality series called ControlTV.
Presented by Ford and Sprint, ControlTV is executive produced by Seth Green and Matthew Senreich (Robot Chicken), and a veteran creative team that includes Richard Saperstein (former president of Dimension Films), Ken Fuchs (The Bachelor and The Bachelorette), commercial director Steve Kessler, and interactive technology expert Craig Ullman.
The star of this social experiment is twenty-five year-old Tristan Couvares. The Connecticut native has agreed to move into a new apartment, have his life documented live on the Internet and then allow the viewers to vote on what he does in his daily life, including what he wears and who he dates. The program launched this morning, October 6th at 8:00AM PST and can be found by logging onto www.controltv.com. We had a chance to speak with Tristan Couvares yesterday, before he moved into the house to begin his six-week long adventure. And he spoke about his reasons for doing the show, his trepidations about it, and his excitement for it to begin. Here is what he had to say:
Tristan, to begin with, why did you decide to participate in a project like this?
Tristan Couvares: Well, I decided to do it because I thought it would be interesting. The way I found it was that I was looking for a job and I stumbled across the advertisement, it was kind of dumb luck. After each interview opportunity I called up my buddies and said, "I blew it. I think I lost the job and they're not going to call me back. I'm not what they're looking for." But they kept calling me back and now I'm sitting here. The only reason I even went to the audition is because the casting office is within a walking distance of my apartment. The walk from my apartment to the casting office was very easy. Had the audition been deep in the valley I probably wouldn't have gone.
What did they tell you about the show when you first auditioned for it?
Tristan Couvares: They didn't really tell me all at once what I would be doing and that was probably a smart thing, had they told me I probably wouldn't have agreed to do it but they've eased me into it. I think it was only a few weeks ago when they told me that I would be moving into a new apartment. I thought they were just going to throw cameras up in my apartment and film me there. So they kind of eased me into each step of it along the way. But I knew going into it that it was going to be an interactive show and that the viewers were going to make all the choices for me. So I always knew from the get-go that I would be giving up my free will.
How do you feel about the public deciding what you are going to do from day-to-day?
Tristan Couvares: It's scary to think, what are these people going to do to me? Are they going to torture me? But at the same time it is so controlled that I think it's fine. It's not like, here is this person and his life is in your hands. There are boundaries and there are rules so it is not complete control.
The show is really an experiment on several different levels, is that something that excited you about the project?
Tristan Couvares: Yeah, I think so. For one it's an experiment on just doing a show that is interactive for the first time. Then also it's a social, anthological and sociological experiment as well. It's a study of humanity and to see how the masses are going to treat this person when they are given this power.
Did you ever imagine that you would be on a reality show like this?
Tristan Couvares: It's so far out of my comfort zone. I say it over and over again and no one believes me but I never imagined myself doing a reality show. I do consider myself a risk taker. If I see an opportunity that I think can yield positive results and the reward out weighs the risk then I'll take that risk but never in a million years did I ever imagine myself doing anything in the entertainment industry little alone be the star of a reality show. I moved out here to be a stock trader. I knew it was a tough business to make money in. There were really only two cities to move to for that kind of stuff, here and New York. I had been to LA because I interned out here. I loved the weather, it was warm and I figured if I was going to go through this difficult process of starting a career, then I'd like to start it in a city where there is lots of stuff to do and beautiful beaches. I think this is going to take me down a different road. I don't know where that road is going to go? But I'm hoping that something positive comes out of this experience.
Is there anything that you are not willing to do on the show? Are there any boundaries that you set up with the producers?
Tristan Couvares: It's one of those things that when people ask me I say no. I have not had that conversation with anyone yet about what I'm not willing to do. I trust the producers that they are not going to put me in a situation where I'm going to get to that level. But as I keep getting that question I think, maybe I should have come up with a list of ten things that I will not do. But I haven't had a conversation like that yet.
Are you nervous about moving into the new apartment and doing this show for the next six-weeks?
Tristan Couvares: I feel like I'm going to need to take an over the counter medicine to put me to sleep because it is going to be so difficult that first night. It's creepy, there are cameras everywhere and they make this strange sound when they turn. It's a great place, a very nice place and nicer then the one I live in now.
Is the show going to just be you going through your everyday life or are the producers going to give you things to do to create some drama?
Tristan Couvares: Well they're definitely going to create some drama. My regular day-to-day life would not make for good television. That's just true unfortunately. I mean I do some interesting things but from day-to-day it's not something that people will want to tune in for. So they will have to find things to create storyline so that the viewers will want to watch it. But a lot of what I do will probably be my day-to-day life so you can log on and watch me play a lot of X-Box. You'll probably see me laying in my bed texting, stuff like that. I've been to the production office and there is a white board of potential things that I could do but I covered my eyes so that when I walked by I wouldn't see it. It's like being a kid on Christmas, you don't want to find your presents on Christmas day, and you want to be surprised. I think that is part of the fun of the show for me. So if I ruin the surprise now it would make the next six weeks less exciting and I don't want to cheapen an experience of a lifetime for me. I think if I approach it with an attitude where I embrace it, I know there will be some things that I don't want to do or that will be humiliating, but if I have fun with it then the audience will like it more and it will be a more enjoyable process for me. I just want to embrace it and have fun. If you're going to do something like this you need to dive in and try to have fun with it.
Seth Green is an Executive Producer on the show, what has his interaction with you been like and was he involved with your being selected for the project?
Tristan Couvares:Seth was definitely involved in selecting me. I had to meet with him before I was cast for the show. That was frightening. I knew I was going to CAA but I didn't know who would be there. I walked into this conference room, which was filled with people and a camera focused on me. They just started asking me questions about me life and what I've done so far, I guess to see what I would be like on the show. It was definitely a scary experience. I remember wanting to change my shirt because I thought I was sweating so much in that meeting. But Seth has called me several times. I've spoken to him and he also came by the day I first saw the apartment so he is very involved in the process.
Are you anxious for it all to begin?
Tristan Couvares: I think the first week is going to be the toughest week so I'm kind of waiting for week two. I think the initial reaction is going to be to torture me. If you give an opportunity to people to control a stranger, of course they are going to pick the most ridiculous things for me to do until they have a chance to see me react and build a rapport with me.
Can you explain how it will all work? How fans will be able to tell you what to do?
Tristan Couvares: It's multiple choice and text messages to a mobile phone that Sprint gave us. We'll give out the text number, there'll be a vote, they'll have the choices and then I'll have five minutes to talk to the audience about it. We're not going to pretend that the cameras are not there. We're not going to make it out like I'm a regular guy walking around Los Angeles. This is going to be real. I can talk to the camera guy, the sound guy and the producers, who ever I want.
dold|Do you know what kind of stuff the audience will get to vote on?
Tristan Couvares: I've heard a few things but I'm sure one of the big ones will be, boxers of briefs? I feel like the first two questions will be that and what to eat for breakfast? I think the first two or three questions will come out of what I'm wearing and what I eat. Beyond that I don't know?
Do you think that the audience's initial urge to torture you will go away after they get to know you a little bit?
Tristan Couvares: I hope so. I think that getting the audience to like me is on my shoulders. I'm not going to try and win them over per say but I think just like if you were watching a TV show and you began to empathize with the main character, I hope that people will empathize me as well.
Will viewers get to vote on who you date too?
Tristan Couvares: Yeah, it's going to be really strange. Ken Fuchs produced The Bachelor and The Bachelorette so I think that is going to be a piece of it. I'm not going to hide from that. The girls are probably going to be selected by the producers and voted on by the audience so I'm not going to have any control over it at all. It's kind of like a blind date. I've never been on a blind date and I was talking to my Mom and said, you know I've been so bad at dating that I should let someone else take a crack at it.
What do your parents think about your decision to be a part of this project?
Tristan Couvares: They weren't so gung-ho when I first explained it to them but now as it gets closer they are beginning to read the press about it and think that it will be fun.
Will we see your actual friends on the show or will you be hanging out with hired actors who are portraying your friends?
Tristan Couvares: No, it's going to be all my real friends. They want it to be very organic. The only reason really for introducing anything into my life is just to make sure that it is interesting enough for the viewers because if we really put a camera on me day-to-day I'd just be playing X-Box and napping. I would enjoy that but I don't think audiences would like that.
Finally, will you have any privacy at all while you are working on this show? Do you at least get to go to the bathroom by yourself?
Tristan Couvares: Yes, I get the bathroom to myself. I still don't know if there is a microphone in there or not. So I have the bathroom off but I've heard anything from sixteen hours to twenty-four hours a day that they will have a camera on me so I don't anticipate getting much if any time to myself. If I need to I can run into the bathroom for a break, I guess?