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Surveillance, Now That’s Real Reality TV

Survivor, Big Brother — they are so yesterday. The new new reality TV is watching unedited surveillance videos on the web. Just ask Jay Levy, founder of Trueview Services, a bootstrapped video surveillance company that offers web-based streams.

The year-old company started out selling its systems to concerned parents, small-business owners, and the like. But when Levy heard popular radio personality Leslie Gold talking on-air about her fear of lending her Connecticut house to her drummer boyfriend Carmine Appice (of Ozzy Osbourne, Rod Stewart, and Pink Floyd fame) and his new all-drummer band, he saw an opportunity.

Trueview called in and made a deal with Gold (a.k.a. The Radio Chick) to foot most of the bill for to outfit her home with surveillance cameras for 30 days while Appice and his band SLAMM developed their live show. And instead of giving just her the password to the web-based controls, Trueview made the video streams public, allowing Gold’s fans to help her keep an eye on her house while she was out during the day doing her job. In the first few days last week, some 75,000 viewers tuned in to the site.

Problem is, two days into the taping Gold got dropped from her radio gig when her station decided it was veering away from talk. So now she’s home all day with a pack of drummers — and a pack of cameras.

You can view streams of the living room, kitchen, and studio here — and no, it’s not your volume that’s the problem; there’s no sound. Levy said that’s due to “concern about what would be said,” while Gold explained it would just be strange if the sound didn’t line up between rooms. Either way, the lack of audio (it’s a band, after all!) definitely detracts from this being watchable for long periods of time. Still, the feeling of watching a 24-hour MTV reality show is pervasive.

We spoke with Gold this week about what it’s like to be spied on by cameras that she installed herself to spy on her houseguests. “You really don’t remember that the cameras are there after a day or two,” she said. But it’s hard to ignore her inbox, she said — with at least a thousand emails pouring in over the previous 72 hours.

The emails are full of comments from people who feel compelled to talk to her, now that she’s invited them into her home.

“What it does do is it opens you up to such criticism and analysis that is very interesting — every little thing gets noticed, someone eats potato chips and leaves it out on the counter…I spent more time rubbing my dog’s belly than kissing my boyfriend. And they email in.”

At the same time, Gold said, when she holes up in her home office to escape the noise of the drums, she’ll tune into the streams on her own computer. “It’s oddly compelling to watch,” she said.

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