Tentative title for program “Of need or greed” Premise: When confronted with an opportunity to receive financial help for personal needs, would an individual (and family) succumb to temptation and use the funds for unnecessary items – or remain committed to only accessing the funds for immediate needs?
This program is developed to test the premise of need versus greed – offering single individuals, couples and families access to “emergency” funds to help out in desperate (or simply stressful) financial times and seeing if the participants limit access to the money to items (issues) they need or if they become greedy and use the funds for unnecessary purchases. The Offer: Recruit a group of individuals willing to participate in this social experiment; seek out participants interested in receiving a “gift card” for which up to $1,000 per month will be made available for them to use as they need.
The caveat is that they must provide a summary of the expenses each month, plus recorded interview, to receive the next months’ card. The show will have electronic access and permission to see where, when and how the funds are pulled from the card – and can compare with the written summary to determine if the participant is being completely or partially truthful. Question: If a participant received a debit card offering them access up to $1,000 per month – how would it be spent? a. Food, utilities, medical treatment, home or vehicle repairs? b. Frugally spending on personal needs while also using funds to help others? . New electronic gadgets, toys, and playthings? d. Vacations, restaurants, or other immediate gratification spending? e. Not at all – or combination of the above? Participants: Seeking a broad mixture of participants from various socio-economic backgrounds, employment status, marriage or family status – however; focus in on one broad geographic area (Orlando, Miami, Tampa, Atlanta, etc). a. Retired individual, fixed income b. Low-income household, high-school graduates, maybe some college, with or without children c. Middle-income household, children, mortgage, struggling to meet expenses d.
Upper-income household, with or without children, some financial set-backs but strong outlook Participation should include a mix of these broad categories among racial, religious, political, gender, academic, professional and marital status. The Host/Hostess: In this proposal, we are including potential candidates (or types) for consideration of hosting the program – however, it is not known if any of these individuals could be contracted for the launch of the unscripted program due to financial considerations, scheduling conflicts, or other considerations.
These individuals were selected because of impressive character and moral positions taken during their professional careers: a. Angie Harmon b. Elizabeth Hasselbeck c. Siobhan Fallon Hogan d. Neal McDonough e. Edward James Olmos Personal preference would be for either Neal McDonough (willing to lose a job rather than bend on moral convictions) or Olmos (long history of ethical conduct – holding strong to ideals of self-respect, self-esteem and self-worth).
Obviously, these are stereotypes for consideration of the direction the show is seeking to go. The Panel: A panel of three individuals will perform the task of evaluating and deciding on elimination. The staff “accountant” receiving and questioning the participants will be one, the host/hostess a second, and the final may be a rotating individual that is selected based on moral/ethical background (priest, politician, public figure or parent – not locked in on a specific individual, but it does need to be a person of moral authority).
This panel will review footage and documentation and determine least eligible candidate to remain on the program (clarification to come later). Regular/Recurring central characters: The participants will be the recurring/central characters of the program. Ideally we will have the host/hostess introduce and ‘interview’ the participants to provide the public with a view of who they are, what circumstances lead to their current situation, the dreams or goals of the participant, and follow-up with how the funding is changing their lives.
Episode One: The Offer In the pilot episode, we launch a program that suggests funding is being made available to individuals through a special pilot program; each participant must agree to the terms of providing a statement of spending at the end of each month prior to receiving the next batch of funding… program will record transactions and see if discrepancies are occurring.
What we are interested in seeing is whether the individuals will only use the discretionary funding as needed or if they will immediately get greedy and start spending on unnecessary items. Mark: a part-time employee at a local grocery store; struggling to pay his bills, living with his girl-friend or a roommate. After receiving the first funding card, we follow him as he does pay those late bills but then justifying to his girlfriend that they can take a trip to the beach and enjoy a ‘real’ vacation… while
Pam and Todd: a couple with three children; both work and the children are cared for by Pam’s sister; the funding comes just in time as the family car is dire need of repair, choices of paying rent or paying for car repairs are in front of this young couple. Yet, even though they have access to the funds, they only use what is needed… maybe they splurge just a little by taking the kids to a movie in a real movie theater for the first time… meanwhile Rebecca: decides that she hasn’t been pampered in too long a time; as a full-time receptionist, she makes enough to get by, but not enough to have ome fun – besides, necessity should include a trip to get her nails done, maybe get a new dress and enjoy a night out on the town… the funding can pay for her utility bill and insurance and her paycheck can cover her “fun” time… Mike: a mid-level professional working in a nice office and earning a comfortable living is given the opportunity to gain this benefit; even though he doesn’t have a need for it, we will see if he begins to indulge and enjoy the extra funding…
Larry: a construction worker used to earning high-wages but is earning a lot less (and some unrecorded); he is getting by on a somewhat restricted budget; however, upon getting access to the funds, he immediately begins enjoying a better lifestyle… new tv, new fishing gear, plenty of funds for beer to enjoy with his friends… With these examples, you begin to see the possibilities of the individual characters and how they may or may not act with the “free” money.
Will we see the self-sacrificing side of individuals and have a program that demonstrates that people will only take what they need – or will we see the greedy side of individuals as they quickly take and spend money on unnecessary items… and, if so, will they justify it – will remorse or arrogance rule their choices? It is in the choices and justifications of these individuals that we will care or be infuriated; fascinated or horrified; charmed or disgusted… Episode 2: The First Purchase
We will watch with interest to see the priorities offered by the participants – some will go to the grocery store and pick out normal items, others may head straight to the steaks… while others may stop at a restaurant or a bar… during this episode, we will continue the interviews with the participants – learning more about the individuals and gaining a better understanding of who they are. Intermixed with these portrayals will be an examination of how they are spending the extra money. Episode 3: The First Renewal
It is expected that the first few episodes will involve personal interviews and participant portrayals for us to gain a better understanding of the individuals – and, intermixed within these dialogues will be highlights of what the participants are doing… perhaps secret footage of one going to a bar, or going to a second-hand clothing store, or perhaps buying a new sound system for the apartment – or helping a neighbor that lost her job and is struggling to feed her children… there will be noble moments, mediocre events – and there will be gross abuses of trust.
At some point in the schedule, we need to start filming and airing the renewal process; participants will return to the office with the summary of purchases and pick up the new card. The “staff” will be very casual concerning the review of documents (maybe stamping as received and stashing in a large pile with other summaries – giving the distinct impression of a poorly managed bureaucracy); the participant will leave and begin month 2 of the funding opportunity.
Our staff will compare the participant provided document to source documents and see if there are any problems (imagine Larry listing $975 in car repairs when the electronic record shows a large screen tv purchase – such a discrepancy will lead to a personal interview where we confront Larry and get an explanation… ) Challenge 1: We don’t want to allow the participants too much stability during the season!
A few episodes in, perhaps around the second renewal, we will present a funding situation… one of the participants has a need for additional money, however, we explain, the pool of funding is set at $1,000 per month per participant – if the other participants are willing to accept a lower amount, funds can be increased for the person in need. a. Who will offer to change their funding amount? b. Will those that agree do so without asking for a reciprocal amount? c. What behavior will we see among the different participants?
Challenge 2: During a review of the expenses, our staff “accidently” under-records spending and notifies the participants that they have more money available to spend than ever before… let’s say it is bumped to $2,500 or $5,000 (show funding will be the issue obviously) – how will this “error” reflect in our participants’ behavior? a. Will a spending spree occur? b. Will the participants tell the staff they made an error and the expenses are correct? c. Will someone (or all) take advantage of this mistake? Challenge 3: Funds begin to shrink.
Towards the end of the program, we state to the remaining participants that funding is going to end soon – maybe another cycle or two – but it will definitely be cut during the next cycle… Will conservation or final spending spree occur? Challenge 4: Funds are cut in half for all participants. What reaction might be expected? How does this influence the choices they make? Episode 5 or 6: The First Elimination By this time, we have a pretty good view of the character of the individuals – now we need to begin the elimination of participants.
One idea is to use the behaviors and spending habits to determine the least ethical participant – that individual will be terminated from the program. At this point, we need to bring in the judges… A panel of three individuals will perform the task of evaluating and deciding on elimination. The staff “accountant” receiving and questioning the participants will be one, the host/hostess a second, and the final may be a rotating individual that is selected based on moral/ethical background (priest, politician, public figure or parent – not locked in on a specific individual, but it does need to be a person of moral authority).
Public opinion: as a potential side-opportunity – we may consider the option of allowing the viewing audience the option of calling in and providing a “vote”; it is expected that this will match the pre-taped program, however, differences may occur and we will state that it is a public opinion poll. The possibility is that we charge for participation, with the proceeds of the vote, let’s say $1. 0 per vote, is deposited into the award coffer for the end-of-season finale (all proceeds from public added to award to be provided to the most ethical participant? ) Eliminations will continue as the panel reviews, discusses and determines if individuals are behaving in a manner that is inappropriate (unnecessarily ‘greedy’); the pool of participants continues to shrink – hopefully the award coffer will be growing quite large – and our host/hostess begins a series of personal interviews on how the extra money helped during the past few months.
Confrontations will continue to happen on the egregious (if any) spending by any participant and the program will begin to wind down to the final (most) ethical participants. It is hoped that sponsorship or public support may yield a coffer exceeding $100,000 to be awarded to the most ethical participant – or be split among a group if there are multiple participants demonstrating strong moral character. I look forward to beginning this project and eagerly await its selection. Thank you for the consideration.