The keys to ‘Intervention’

A&E's Intervention may not be the first television show to document families confronting their loved ones about their addictions. However it is certainly one of the most successful. Realscreen spoke with Gary Benz, president and CEO of GRB Entertainment, post-Emmy win about the key to the show's success and what new titles GRB will be bringing to MIPCOM.
September 28, 2009

Hot on the heels of Intervention‘s recent Emmy win for outstanding reality series, Sherman Oaks-based prodco/distributor GRB Entertainment is just about to deliver its 100th episode of the series to A&E, and not much has changed. President and CEO Gary Benz says that, though the prodco is always striving to evolve the series and the skills it takes to produce this kind of sensitive programming, everything from the graphics to the music to the story structure has generally stayed intact from episode one to 100.

Though the crew has the production of the show down to a fine art, there are still challenges in making Intervention. ‘We are constantly fielding topics that none of us have ever heard of and that are surprising,’ says Benz. ‘Our audience is going to be surprised to see that there are these types of addictions out there.’

Not surprisingly, though, Benz says the key to making Intervention is gaining the trust of its subjects and acting with honesty. ‘Yes we’re making a television show, and yes we want it to be entertaining, but we have to tread very carefully as we enter these people’s lives, so we just try to hold that standard super high,’ he says. ‘We’re never going to do anything that’s not going to be good for the subject.’

When GRB was starting work on the first season of the series the prodco put ads in local newspapers to find people who wanted to take part in a ‘documentary on addiction.’ The leads and requests GRB and A&E receive for potential subjects have increased exponentially, says Benz, especially as the show has generated much attention over the course of seven seasons. That notoriety can make it harder to find suitable subjects; an intervention has a better chance of success if the subject is unaware that it will be happening. ‘We’ve had a number of stories fall out because somebody would say, ‘Hey, is this that show Intervention,’ at which point we need to stop,’ says Benz. According to A&E, the series has conducted 138 interventions since its March, 2005 premiere, and 112 of those individuals are currently sober.

Now with 100 episodes of Intervention under its belt and 20 new episodes ordered by A&E, GRB is also looking forward to bringing new titles to MIPCOM for the first time. The producer/distributor recently acquired the Emmy-winning PBS series Now, which it is bringing to the international market for the first time in its seven years on the air in the US. GRB also hopes to introduce Spike series Pros vs. Joes, Bravo UK series Danny Dyer’s Deadliest Men and the brand new series for Investigation Discovery, The Bureau to an international audience in October.

About The Author
Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based writer into creativity, content, advertising, tech, comics, video games, film, TV, time and space travel.