Dynamic duo COSTCO MEMBERS JD Roth and Todd Nelson met in 1990, when they worked together producing a live version of a syndi- cated kids’ TV show, Fun House. Roth, a former child actor in TV commercials and shows, hosted the program, while Nelson served as tour manager. In 2001, they founded 3 Ball Productions to take a shot at creating their own reality TV shows. Nelson had just been offered a produc- tion job on CBS’s Survivor, one of the first hits in the growing genre of reality TV. But having a heart-to-heart with Roth, who had teamed with him on several other success- ful projects, he decided not to go. Instead, the two launched their own company, 3 Ball Productions, which now has 200 employees, its own state-of-the-art produc- tion center and some 40 shows to its credit. Inspirations for their shows strike at any moment and place, like out on their surfboards. One program, NBC’s Age of Love, was inspired by an innocent dinner-party conversation about romance between
older women and younger men. They also
get plenty of pitches, and sometimes a new
show stems from something that arises
during the filming of a series. That’s the
case of Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss
Edition for ABC, an offshoot of The Biggest
Loser. Set to premiere in March, it follows
extremely overweight participants over the
course of an entire year.
eras weren’t on him. He realized that the drive
to become the person he wanted to be had to
come from within.
“We woke up the beast inside this guy in
one day,” Roth says. “He knew in his heart that
he gave up when people weren't looking.
Again, the power of the mind.”
Lesson 3: The most powerful motivation
comes from within.
; ; ;
In another season, one of the exercise
bikes in The Biggest Loser went missing.
After filming ended and the contestants
went home, the bike was discovered in one
woman’s closet. Later, she confessed to taking the bike.
“She told us that she just wanted to get in
additional workouts at night,” Roth says.
“That’s an hour or more, after working out
during the day for seven hours. Her biggest
fear was going home a failure.”
Lesson 4: Go an extra step further to reach
; ; ;
Roth and Nelson created I Used to Be Fat,
now appearing on MTV, after meeting a high
school senior who had skipped his senior
prom because he was too fat. “There are
about 100 days between high school prom
night and the first day of college,” says Roth.
“What if, we wondered, somebody could lose
100 pounds over the summer, arriving at college with a clean slate, a whole new person,
where nobody knew you as ‘the fat kid’?”
The show’s first contestant weighed in
at 320 pounds. He ended up losing 87 pounds
over the summer. Roth and Nelson couldn’t
believe the transformation. “You should have
seen him at the end: Handsome, well dressed,
we got him a nice haircut,” Roth recalls. “A
whole new sense of confidence for him,”
adds Nelson. “Life-changing.”
Lesson 5: A milestone can be a good motivation to change.
; ; ;
The programs that Roth and Nelson create are often uncomfortable to watch. For
example, What’s Eating You, produced for
E!, follows people with severe eating disorders, intimately documenting their daily
struggles. Is this something that should be
on TV? Yes, the producers say, because these
shows portray the amazing resilience that
people can tap when their backs are truly
against the wall.
That’s not to say happy endings are
guaranteed on TV. Most Biggest Loser contestants maintain a significant weight loss
in the years after being on the show, Roth
says. But in other shows, such as The OCD
Project on VH1, which looks at people with
obsessive-compulsive disorders, success is
harder to track. Simply put, some people
leave these shows with the same baggage
they had upon arrival.
But that’s reality—on TV and in life, Roth
says. Failures and setbacks show just how painful and difficult change can be. And it usually
requires a breakdown before it can start.
“All the double-digit weight-loss weeks
on this show always come after self-discovery,” Roth says, looking around the Biggest
Loser set. “You have to have an emotional
breakthrough. Tears actually weigh more
than fat that’s on your body. After the tears
fall, the fat falls off with them.”
Lesson 6: Breakthroughs are often painful,
“It’s believing that you can do it,” Roth
says, when asked what he sees as the key to
success for the people ( 1,000 and counting)
who have appeared in 3 Ball’s shows. “And it’s
showing up. Ninety percent of it is just showing up—being open to change, and being
ready to take over and take charge.
“If you’re saying how can I do it at home,
I say what’s more important: the next 30 days
of your job, or your life? We just had a guy on
The Biggest Loser who was on 16 different
medications and five insulin shots a day. In 30
days, he was off all of it, including the insulin.
Is your life worth that?
“You need to focus on one thing: you,”
Roth concludes. “When you can put your
focus to one thing anytime in life, it usually
comes out pretty good.” C
; ; ;
Is all of this enough to inspire ordinary
people to change their lives? Roth and Nelson
acknowledge that contestants on their shows
benefit from a “pixie dust” that very few others can enjoy: the TV cameras that keep contestants going—and, in the case of The Biggest
Loser, a $250,000 prize. Still, there are nuggets
of wisdom for the people in the audience.
The Costco Connection
Costco features an assortment of The Biggest
Loser cookbooks in the warehouses, includ-
ing The Biggest
The Biggest Loser
and the new
The Biggest Loser