Melissa Jo Peltier

Author of fiction and nonfiction; film and television producer/writer/director

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Reality Boulevard

"Reality Boulevard is a book in the tradition of great Hollywood novels, from Carroll and Garrett Graham’s Queer People (1930) to Michael Tolkin’s The Player (1988), and reads like Paddy Chayefsky’s 1976 Network screenplay retooled for the 21st century. With any luck, there will be a movie or TV version of Peltier’s book to bite the hand of an industry that feeds so many but rewards only a fortunate few."

- Kenneth Salikoff, Kirkus Indie Magazine

When Oscar winning producer Marty Maltzman's non-fiction series Lights and Sirens is suddenly cancelled after a glorious, award-winning 16 year run, the quirky documentary filmmaker and his staff of loyal camera people, directors, writers and editors find themselves unemployed and out on the streets in a confusing new Hollywood filled with Kardashians, Survivors and Real Housewives. How they adapt to a surreal world in which the lines between truth and lies are constantly blurred both on and off the screen is the engine for a character-driven tale in the tradition of the Hollywood Novel. "Broadcast News" meets "Bonfire of the Vanities" meets "What Makes Sammy Run?", Reality Boulevard tears open the curtain to take an unsentimental (often shocking) look at how Reality TV is really made. At it’s heart, it’s a poignant look at how a collection of oddball dreamers learn to reconcile the hard facts of an eternally changing business with the ideals that attracted them to it in the first place.

Author's Alliance Review: "Four Stars Plus!"

When Marty Maltzman’s long-running docudrama “Lights and Sirens” is canceled, he and his crew are thrown out of work after 11 years of employment. They discover Hollywood has changed since they were last in the job market, and not for the better. Reality Boulevard is the story of their job hunt and of the people who live and work in Hollywood.
The good guys include Marty, a sweet-natured producer who believes programs should have redeeming value, and Hunter, a director burning to get funding for her documentary about women as second-class citizens. Among the bad guys: Sophie, a network executive who lost her soul on the way up; and Ian, a studio head who never had a soul to lose. Amid the host of friends, colleagues, agents, writers and hangers-on are the tragic others, like the teens who want to be famous because—what else is there? Fame is all people want, right?
The author has worked extensively in Hollywood so we get an insider’s view. Some Hollywood rules: the more you work, the more you work; always take the meeting; focus on the good-looking kids, no one cares about the ugly ones; never feature stories where the victim dies. And the advice given by a successful agent to his clients in the world of reality tv: If you’re not embarrassed by it, don’t even think about pitching it.
There’s an entertaining scene-by-scene seduction, presented in reverse; and some strong passages: “She smelled his steely clean scent and felt the coolness of his energy toward her, and her heart fell away because she realized she truly worshipped this man and that she had made a terrible, uncorrectable mistake.”
Reality Boulevard takes readers behind the camera to reveal the making of shows like those that take up so much air time these days. Here, story doesn’t matter as long as you have a flashy concept, plenty of conflict, and characters who are recognizable archetypes. Funny and sad, trenchant and tragic, this is a well-written, fast-paced story covering nearly twenty years in the entertainment industry. Four stars plus.
(Book reviewed by Helen Yeomans)


When a long-running documentary series is cancelled, the show’s filmmakers must navigate a new reality TV landscape in this satiric novel.

Marty Maltzman’s award-winning prime-time series Lights and Sirens has been following emergency responders such as police, paramedics, hospital ERs and the Coast Guard for 16 years, telling dramatic stories of injury and danger. Now, the show’s been axed, a victim of a shift in reality TV toward the Kardashians, celebrity weight losers and spoiled “housewives.” Hunter Marlow, a producer on the series, would like to revisit her documentary Second Sex (widow-burning in India, clitoridectomies in Sudan), but she needs funding. She has a new and well-paying reality TV–producing offer from Ian Rand, CEO of RandWorld Productions. But he betrayed her in the past; can she trust him? Can Marty trust the gorgeous, much younger actress Crimson Fennel, who’s making a play for him? Can anyone trust anyone else in Hollywood? Peltier, herself an award-winning producer and writer (Dog Whisperer With Cesar Millan, Secrets of the Pyramids, etc.), uses her insider knowledge of Los Angeles, the TV industry and its players to craft a zinging satire. When Marty pitches a show following smokejumpers, a young exec replies, “[O]ur audiences tend to gravitate more to, say, the crazy pyros who are setting the fires, not the guys who just go around putting them out.” Hunter, starting work on a new series, is shown the secrets of Frankenbites: chopped up, remixed and enhanced editing used to create a more dramatic but false story out of raw “reality” footage. As a colleague explains to an appalled Hunter: “Sometimes I do just want to go home and take a shower. But you know, it’s only television. It’s not like anyone takes it seriously.” But in this smart, funny, insightful novel, reality TV becomes all too real, forcing several characters to confront their decisions. Peltier examines the Hollywood world of writers, producers, rich kids, actors, wannabes and con men with a keen and often compassionate eye.

A dead-on satire—with a heart—of the reality TV scene from a knowledgeable, witty insider.

WBZ Boston-CBS News Radio's popular late night host, Jordan Rich interviews Melissa live about REALITY BOULEVARD and the changing television business. Have a listen to the podcast version!

Melissa Jo Peltier Talks "Reality Boulevard" on "The Best People We Know" Radio

Listen to Internet radio with Best People We Know on Blog Talk Radio

What Industy Insiders Are Saying:

"Once I started reading "Reality Boulevard," I could not stop. It is that compelling, that entertaining, and that amazing and amusing-- filled with unexpected plot twists and characters more colorful than the clearest rainbow. This is the best satirical look behind-the-scenes of "reality television" ever written. Despite being satiric fiction, it contains more truth than you would believe. You will forever watch your favorite reality shows with new "insider" knowledge and awareness."
- Arnold Shapiro
Academy Award & 16-time Emmy Award-winner
Producer of Film, TV documentaries and reality series
("Big Brother" "Rescue 911" "Scared Straight" & more)

“Melissa Jo Peltier has spent over 20 years in the trenches of documentary, non-fiction and reality TV and there's practically nothing she hasn't seen or done. She lived it so you can laugh about it in this novel.”
-Sean Hayes

“Reality TV has cannibalized the airwaves, and during her 20 plus years in the business, Melissa Jo Peltier had a front row seat, watching it all unfold. In this novel, she puts her dry wit and storytelling ability to good use, pulling back the curtain to reveal what really goes on.”
-Todd Milliner
Executive Producer
Hot in Cleveland

“I’ve worked with Melissa for almost 20 years on many programs on several networks. She’s the real deal. As a network executive, I can safely say that Melissa knows the territory, and most important of all, has captivating insights that are worth sharing with a wide audience.”
- Michael Cascio-
SVP, National Geographic Channel
(Formerly SVP A&E, Animal Planet)

“Emmy award winner, NYT Best selling author, and Executive Producer of the long-running phenomenon Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan, Melissa Jo Peltier started out in television at the tender age of 20 and has had an unprecedented insider's view of reality TV's strange evolution. If there's anyone out there qualified to fictionalize what really goes on behind the scenes, it's Melissa.”
-Cori Wellins
Partner, William Morris Endeavor Agency

"In this smart, funny, insightful novel, reality TV becomes all too real, forcing several characters to confront their decisions. Peltier examines the Hollywood world of writers, producers, rich kids, actors, wannabes and con men with a keen and often compassionate eye."
- Kirkus Reviews

New Reading; "The Meeting"

Watch a Travelogue of Some of the Locations in "Reality Boulevard"

Watch Melissa Jo Peltier read an Excerpt from the Novel:


5.0 out of 5 stars
Could not stop reading!, February 12, 2013
By Nataliya (Virginia, USA)
If you love reality TV, hate reality TV, or don't give much thought to this popular genre, you will love "Reality Blvd." With humor, satire, and memorable characters, it takes you deep into the present and the future of unscripted television. If you think some of today's reality shows and characters are outrageous, wait until you meet the ones in this book. I intended to read only the first chapter and could not stop reading until I was forced to go to sleep 12 hours later. This book is engaging, amazing, amusing, and unforgettable. After reading it, you will watch your next reality episode as an insider!

5.0 out of 5 stars
Can't-put-it-down satire on reality tv, February 13, 2013
By V. Adams "NYC book lover" (NY NY)
I downloaded this the first day it came out; well, I must say when I starting reading, I literally could not put it down. It's been a long time I laughed out loud when I read a book and the satire in this is incredibly funny-- because it's true. The author has an award-winning background in reality TV, so she knows whereof she speaks, and it's a lot of fun guessing who the characters might be based on (though I suspect there are a lot of them out there who are a match for the more ego-driven characters). Her insider's view adds extra weight and credence to her observations about how reality TV can warp personalities and encourage the bad behavior so many of us love to hate. But this is not a moralizing book; it has compassion for its characters, while at the same time observing the costs of fame, especially when conferred on people who have nothing to offer but outrageous personalities. That said it is! Now I am just waiting for a sequel because I wanted to find out what happens to some of the characters, both good and bad, whom I had grown fond of by the end.

5.0 out of 5 stars
A great read!, February 18, 2013
By Karen M
Written by an author who clearly knows her subject matter inside and out, Melissa Peltier has created memorable characters you will love and love-to-hate, all thrown together while they make their way in a business that's just slightly more crazy than they are. But beware! Reality Boulevard reads like a runaway train, so find yourself a free weekend, download this book, and dive right in. You won't be sorry. If you love Carl Hiaasen, you will love Melissa Peltier.

5.0 out of 5 stars
Great novel about reality TV (and lots of other things), February 18, 2013
By Randy -
This is a touching and often hilarious novel set in the world of reality TV production -- where Peltier worked for over 20 years. The lead character encounters conflicts that a huge number of ambitious young women (and men) will identify with, between love and work, between selling out and staying pure (whatever that means). It's a quick, fun read, but also one you can come back to again and again.

5.0 out of 5 stars
Brilliant, February 18, 2013
By John (NY) -
Funny and insightful and definitely from someone who knows this terrain. Great characters and elegantly written. A talent to watch!!

5.0 out of 5 stars Reality Boulevard, February 18, 2013
By An Renhult Kane (Truro, Ma United States) -
I completely enjoyed "Reality Boulevard" by Melissa Jo Peltier. She wove together a group of interesting characters, most with their own backstories, in a way that makes them easy to follow. No confusing back and forth "Now who is this guy again?" I am not a television person but I found the book funny, I probably learned a lot about reality television. I recommend it to anyone. they can purchase it for their kindle at It's a real page tapper!

5.0 out of 5 stars
This book is a must-read, February 13, 2013
By Susan
I love, love, love this book!
It's sharp, slyly funny, and pretty much impossible to put down. Melissa Jo Peltier is hilarious and a master at creating relatable characters, whether you love them, hate them, or want to bitch slap them (my choice for the character of Crimson Fennel, who is a very funny caricature of a former high school beauty queen gone off the rails). If you've ever wanted to know what goes on behind the scenes in reality television, this is your book. Even if you don't care one way or another for reality television, this book isn't just a good read -- it's a great read.

5.0 out of 5 stars
The "Real" Reality in Hollywood, February 18, 2013
By cdw
You will not be able to put this book down. Melissa Peltier, professional author and producer, has the personal experience to tell her tale of what it's really like in the "reality television world." She pulls together all her creative talent in this entertaining novel. You will fall in love with the characters. You will laugh and cry and agonize with them in this unique plot centered around the reality television industry. Wild and crazy and fun!
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5.0 out of 5 stars
"Don't Try This At Home!" (The 'That's Incredible!" Slogan), February 19, 2013
By Andrew Rothstein -
Melissa Jo Peltier's novel 'Reality Boulevard" is a whirlwind of fun! She has captured the world of "Reality" Television precisely and incisively. Her characters are very well drawn and the plot moves you to keep turning those pages, thinking (as the very best Novels, TV and Movies do) "What's going to happen next? It's a great read!

5.0 out of 5 stars
Uproarious and Sobering, March 2, 2013
By David G. Hallman -
Melissa Jo Peltier's novel "Reality Boulevard" provides a simultaneously uproarious and sobering portrayal of the world of reality television. The over-the-top characters, the plotlines that veer between farce and pathos, and the razor-sharp dialogue all combine to provide a hugely entertaining read. Peltier's depth of real-life experience in the entertainment industry gives us a convincing insight into the world behind the curtain that is our television screen.

But beyond the fun time that "Reality Boulevard" provides to us readers, I found myself attending more to two other dimensions.

What does the mass popularity of reality TV programs as depicted in "Reality Boulevard" say about us a society? I don't regret for an instant that Peltier's novel pressed this question into the forefront of my mind even at the expense of tainting somewhat the unadulterated enjoyment I was having in reading the story. I won't proffer any glib answers here to this probing question but reflecting on it will be the longer-term impact for me of having read "Reality Boulevard" after the glow of the fun time has faded. And for that, I'm appreciative.

The second aspect of reading "Reality Boulevard" that most impressed me was the fine quality of the writing. My goodness, Melissa Jo Peltier has mastered her craft. Editors are constantly harping at us writers to "show me, don't tell me." Peltier demonstrates that skill with seemingly effortless finesse. But we who write know that it is not effortless. Peltier has paid her dues. "Reality Boulevard" is a very solid piece of writing.

5.0 out of 5 stars
A Fascinating Cautionary Tale, February 25, 2013
By Arthur Wooten "nycscribe" (New York, NY)
With her plethora of credits, background and experience in the “behind the scenes” working of Hollywood’s world of film, television and documentaries, only Melissa Jo Peltier could have written her riveting novel, Reality Boulevard. It not only follows and explores the lives of wannabe celebrities but also introduces us to seasoned professionals who are tops in their fields, how they got there and even more challenging, how they stay there...or not. It’s the story of what price people will pay - financially, emotionally and physically - for fame and fortune in the world of non-scripted television and the consequences, good and bad, that may unfold. Told in a humorous and candid voice, Reality Boulevard is at its core a fascinating cautionary tale.

5.0 out of 5 stars
Wow, February 23, 2013
By Tam
Wow! If you wanted to know what really goes on behind the sets of Hollywood's reality TV craze or if you need confirmation of what you already believe, this is it! A terrific group of stories, with twists and turns to keep you turning the pages!

5.0 out of 5 stars
I feel for the creative types, February 21, 2013
By tetloj
I loathe reality TV and one of the valuable things I got from this terrific novel is an understanding that some very creative souls in TV make all sorts of compromises and faustian pacts in order to do the work they feel is really important (of course some of them are sociopaths as well).

With mostly likeable and well drawn characters and multiple story threads that come together nicely at then end, Reality Boulevard covers the depravity of this TV-drama substitute while showing a lot of sympathy for the creative folks who have to earn a living in TV industry driven by advertising revenues.

I am relieved to find that there are still talented story-tellers out there, even if they are stifled for now.

A great little peek into what happens behind the scenes in today's trash TV. It blended beautifully with my steady diet of CDAN and dlisted Hollywood debauchery.

5.0 out of 5 stars Wicked! Must read!, February 18, 2013
By Not Happy
Harder to look away from than a bad car wreck on the freeway. This wickedly funny book confirms any and all suspicions about the nature of the machine that churns out the endless sausage known as reality TV programming. The characters are too spot on for them not to be, well, um, from reality! For anyone who has ever felt their IQ plunge as they cursor their remote through the ever- diminishing menu of worthwhile television programming, this book administers an antidote for the disgust and ennui. It is beautifully crafted and mercilessly funny. The "Network" of reality TV, this one needs to be turned I onto a major motion picture and soon!

5.0 out of 5 stars
Couldn't put it down, March 6, 2013
By Rebecca R. Jones
I had to save this book for my spring break and the two six-hour plane rides, but I finished it before landing on my return trip. This is a great inside look at reality TV. We've all wondered at one time or another how TV manages to find these people...Melissa Peltier shows us where and how. If you're a cynic like me, this will just confirm your worst fears about reality TV and draw you into a world that is a cross between acting and reality and the people that create that world. Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars
Great read!, March 3, 2013
By Bobbie
I was hooked by the end of the first chapter.
I am not overly interested in the behind the scenes workings of reality tv and found the story of Marty Maltzman more compelling. A likable and at times somewhat pitiful character who was once considered cutting edge is lost in the new world of reality tv. I enjoyed the references to the history of the characters jobs in the business and how they have changed.
As a nook owner this book was well worth the effort to use the kindle app to read.

5.0 out of 5 stars
A not-so-guilty pleasure, February 25, 2013
By Laura E. Bailey (Manzanita, OR United States)
Like good quality chocolate, Melissa Peltier's witty and detailed 'reveal' of the real world behind reality TV is just the right balance between sharp (incisive and unsentimental commentary on the underbelly of this phenom) and sweet (appealing and funny characters and plot twists that keep you smiling). It made me interested in reading more by Ms Peltier (and watching less unreality TV!).
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5.0 out of 5 stars
Pulling Back the Curtain - Reality Boulevard Exposes Hollywood!, March 17, 2013
By Chuck Gallagher
Want to know the inside workings of TV in Hollywood... New York Times bestseller Melissa Jo Peltier pulls back the curtains to see the truth behind the great and powerful OZ (or Hollywood). Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction and Reality Boulevard: A Hollywood Insider's Satire Of Reality TV shares that truth with its readers. A truly engaging book that takes you, the reader, on a ride with twists and turns that you could only imagine. Well written, Reality Boulevard is one of those few books that I could not put down. Read Reality Boulevard and let it expand your mind opening up Hollywood in a way few could imagine.

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Published Works

Reality Boulevard
"...a book in the tradition of great Hollywood novels, from Carroll and Garrett Graham’s Queer People (1930) to Michael Tolkin’s The Player (1988), and reads like Paddy Chayefsky’s 1976 Network screenplay retooled for the 21st century" - Ken Salikoff, Kirkus Indie Magazine
"In this smart, funny, insightful novel, reality TV becomes all too real...Peltier examines the Hollywood world of writers, producers, rich kids, actors, wannabes and con men with a keen and often compassionate eye. " - Kirkus Reviews
"Once I started reading "Reality Boulevard," I could not stop...this is the best satirical look behind-the-scenes of "reality television" ever written." - Arnold Shapiro, Oscar & Emmy-winning Producer of Scared Straight; Rescue 911; Big Brother
“[Millan] arrives amid canine chaos and leaves behind peace.” —Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker
Non-Fiction (Co-Author)
“As complete a tome on the subject as one could want…If the answer you’re looking for in this guide cannot be found, the question is not worth asking...this is an impressive piece of work.” - Bookviews, June 2011