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The cast of Jersey Shore
The cast of Jersey Shore

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Reality TV costs rise as stars like Snooki gain celebrity Add to ...

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Getting real: How TV stars are earning more One of the reasons behind the wild success of reality TV is that it's cheap to pull off compared to traditional series. It can cost just $200,000 (U.S.) for a 30-minute show, The New York Times notes today, compared to more than $1-million for scripted, 60-minute episodes. That's at least partly because there aren't large salaries and big celebrities. Or there weren't, anyway.

Meet Snooki, the very tanned, big-haired, pint-sized doyenne of Jersey Shore, and her friends on the hit show that resumes Thursday on MTV. In Seaside Heights last season, the cast earned just $25,000 as a group for the entire run. In Miami this season, Nicole 'Snooki' Polizzi and company will reportedly share in that amount for each show after demanding more, the newspaper said.

As reality TV stars are rising on series like Jersey Shore and Real Housewives, The New York Times asks, are the shows becoming victims of their own success? The newspaper says TV executives say they're not, but they are on guard. Citing The Hills, the report noted that by the end of its six-season run, its previously unknown stars were earning six figures.

"In scripted, as a producer, you have the ability to write a character out. But in reality, your talent often is the show, so they have a greater ability to use nonperformance as a lever to extract a better deal," Michael Hirschorn, who runs production company Ish Entertainment, told the newspaper.

Ringing the bell Just to drive home that point, Ms. Polizzi and some of her colleagues, including Mike 'The Situation' Sorrentino, got to ring the bell at the New York Stock Exchange to open trading this morning. "It was like a car crash here this morning; people couldn't help but stare," Benedict Willis, director of floor operations at Sunrise Securities Corp., told Reuters, which noted the screams for Ms. Polizzi. "It was very crowded, but most of the crowd were summer interns. It was like P.T. Barnum's freak show was in town."

Last season's finale on MTV, owned by Viacom Inc. , drew an audience of 4.8 million.

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GM prices Volt General Motors Co. said today it will begin pricing its battery-powered Chevrolet Volt at $41,000 (U.S.), above that of the electric Nissan Leaf, which starts at $33,000. The vehicle, eligible for a U.S. tax credit worth $7,500, will begin selling in November. It runs for up to 40 miles on a battery, then a gasoline engine generates electricity that can keep it going for a further 300 miles. Marketing chief Joel Ewanick said the new vehicle is "starting the world on a different path."

BP posts hefty loss, names new CEO Robert Dudley put it bluntly today: "I do not underestimate the nature of the task ahead." Mr. Dudley's comments came as BP PLC , the energy giant at the heart of the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, posted a massive loss, announced tens of billions in planned asset sales and set aside more than $30-billion to cover the costs of its troubles.

As expected, BP today put a Yankee into King Arthur's court, naming Mr. Dudley as its first non-British CEO to replace Tony Hayward. Mr. Hayward will be recommended for a non-executive position at BP's Russian joint venture as Mr. Dudley takes his place effective Oct. 1.

Mr. Dudley's challenges are many: He needs to cap the spill completely, regain the affection of his shareholders who have bailed on the company and pushed down the stock by more than 35 per cent, navigate the company's way through a political and legal minefield in the United States, sell assets and rebuild BP's reputation.

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