LIANE HANSEN, host:
For this week's installment of our summer reading series, we spoke with Joey Carson, the CEO of Bunim-Murray Productions. Bunim-Murray has produced such reality TV shows as "The Scholar," which focuses on high school students who compete for scholarship money, and the company's adolescent, 16-year-old flagship program, "The Real World."
(Soundbite of "The Real World")
Unidentified Man #1: This is the true story...
Unidentified Woman #1: Yee-haw!
Unidentified Woman #2: ...of seven strangers...
Unidentified Woman #3: ...picked to live in a house...
Unidentified Man #2: ...brought together and have their lives taped...
Unidentified Woman #4: ...to find out what happens...
Unidentified Woman #5: Ohh.
Unidentified Man #3: ...when people stop being polite...
Unidentified Man #4: Shut up.
Unidentified Woman #6: ...and start getting real.
Group of People: (In unison) "The Real World: Boston."
HANSEN: For his reading material, Joey Carson sticks with reality through biographies of American political leaders. He recently finished "His Excellency: George Washington" by Joseph Ellis, and particularly enjoyed learning about the role that Alexander Hamilton played in Washington's life. Reading about their mentor-protege relationship led Carson to another biography, "Alexander Hamilton" by Ron Chernow.
Mr. JOEY CARSON (CEO, Bunim-Murray Productions): It actually had a great amount of material that hadn't really been delved into about Hamilton's birth and upbringing down in the Caribbean. His mother dies and he's left to fend for himself essentially on this frontier, but he makes the most of it and he gets a job working as a clerk for a trading company that trades back and forth with the United States. And eventually, it's these men that he works for that eventually lead him to the United States, and through those connections it puts him close to the center of power.
HANSEN: Carson recently spent time on the French Riviera, where he juggled two books by Dr. Phil McGraw, "Family First" and "Self Matters." When not on vacation, he likes to grab a book and settle into an overstuffed chair in his retreat, a small study just off the master bedroom in his Los Angeles home. Carson says that he's drawn to anything about quantum mechanics, such as "The Elegant Universe" and "The Fabric of the Cosmos," both by Brian Greene. Carson went to Catholic school, and through the years has spent time considering the nature of existence.
Mr. CARSON: All of our laws and physics seems to work OK on an everyday basis, but when you really push it to the limits, it starts to not work, and that just fascinates me. I want to know why. And so a lot of it, I think, comes from almost a spiritual quest that I've been on.
HANSEN: Joey Carson is also partial to science-fiction. He prefers to read several books at once, but Orson Scott Card's Ender Wiggin series commanded his solo attention. Those novels follow a child genius who is destined to save the planet from aliens. Carson also zoomed through Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" stories about a scientist who claims to have figured out how to predict the future.
Mr. CARSON: And then he dies. And what happens after that is he sends a series of videos that come up at strategic times predicting events right before they happen. And after the first couple of these videos, people think, `Oh, my gosh, he's right.' And then basically, the anti-character in that comes along at a later time and says, `I have figured it out, also, but I'm going to mess it up.' So it's a really neat series. It's very thought-provoking about space, time and reality, and it's also interlaced with politics and relationships.
HANSEN: Joey Carson is the CEO of Bunim-Murray Productions in Van Nuys, California.
You can visit our Web site, npr.org, for book suggestions and more information about the people featured in our summer reading series.
We would also like to know what you've been reading this summer. What's one book that will stay with you? And tell us why you liked it, but please be brief. Go to our Web site, npr.org, click on the `Contact us' link, follow the instructions, and in the subject line of your message, write: `What I'm reading.' Please be sure to include your phone number because we plan to get in touch with some of you to record your comments, which we will broadcast on our show Labor Day weekend.
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