As mentioned Thursday, one of the highlights of the second episode of "Hard Knocks" was an interview with Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie in which he struggled to come up with the names and ages of his eight children. Now, though, Cromartie is saying that his public service announcement for contraception was actually staged by HBO producers looking to juice things up after the fact.
"Nah, I didn’t have trouble," Cromartie told the New York Post. "I mean, they asked me to pause. I had nailed it the one time before, but they had to redo it and they just told me to pause between each one of [the names]."
HBO denies the charges and says that the Cromartie interview was shot in one take. They take further issue with any indication that there's anything about "Hard Knocks" that isn't raw, unvarnished reality. We take some issue with that latter assertion.
There are certainly moments during the show when the subjects are unconcerned with the cameras. There was a lengthy segment on Wednesday night featuring rookie running back Joe McKnight's struggles during practice which also illuminated his seeming disinterest in working hard enough to make something out of his professional football career. That was raw, it was a look that you couldn't get from simply watching the practice and it was compelling television.
But there are also plenty of moments when the coaches and players are all too aware of the cameras and are playing to them. Rex Ryan asking for no butter on his popcorn at a movie theatre and then grabbing a heavily buttered bag, for example. It's sitcomy stuff that might not be scripted but it is certainly staged and certainly manufactured to put a laugh into the episode.
And that's fine. You can't put cameras into a situation and expect that people are going to simply ignore them out of hand. As long as it isn't as obviously fake as something like "The Hills," no one is really going to mind that so much. It's TV and TV is supposed to be entertaining, even at the expense of being entirely truthful.
That's why we can't totally dismiss Cromartie's assertion as damage control in light of an embarrassing situation. Cromartie's immense brood has made headlines because his issues with paying child support led to court cases and a $500,000 advance from the Jets to make things right. It's something you'd like to address if you're the producer of a television show involving Cromartie and making it seem like he can't remember the names made for a memorable moment.
The big question, then, is why Cromartie would agree to be painted as a man who can't remember the names and ages of his kids?