Reality TV Host Boosted Ratings By Murdering People

It sounds like the plot of a 1970s scifi movie. Brazilian reality TV host Wallace Souza was charged earlier this month with ordering his bodyguard to kill people to boost ratings for his crime-themed reality show Canal Livre.

Several episodes of Canal Livre featured Souza, a former police officer and politician, discovering the bodies of murdered drug lords in the jungles outside his home city of Manaus. You can see one such sequence in this clip, where Souza and his camera crew just happen to stumble on the still-smoking remains of a murdered man. Souza often ranted about problems with the police on his show, which is now off the air.

To prove the police's incompetence, Souza would air segments like these, saying that his TV crew was doing a better job finding dead bodies than the police.

Last year, his bodyguard was arrested for the murders of five men, whom he claimed Souza had ordered him to kill so that they could "discover" them on the show. Souza and his son were arrested, though Souza's status as a politician prevents him from being held in jail. Now the chief prosecutor of Amazonas, Brazil, has brought Souza up on drug trafficking charges too. It seems that he was also running a drug ring along with several other ex-police officers, and that the killings he ordered helped eliminate his competition in the world of drug selling, as well as on television.

This kind of scenario was predicted fairly accurately in the disburbing near-future movie Network, released in the 1970s, which is about a news show whose ratings go through the roof when their disillusioned anchor threatens to shoot himself on the air. To maintain their ratings, a craven TV executive (played by Faye Dunaway) arranges for the increasingly-deranged anchor to keep delivering his violent rants, until eventually he's murdered on air. At the same time, she uses her success with his show to jumpstart a reality program devoted to the activities of a terrorist group.

I can't wait for Survivor - the Wallace Souza Edition.

via ABC News