Back to IndieWire

Reality check: Balloon Family Wanted a TV Show

Reality check: Balloon Family Wanted a TV Show

If you’re sick of Jon & Kate, well, now there’s a reason to be even sicker. The financial and cultural boom that happened for the real Jon & Kate, is likely what inspired the Heene family to indulge themselves in what has now been officially declared a “hoax” and “publicity stunt.” The nation sat stunned on Thursday with the belief that six-year-old Falcon Heene was trapped in a weather balloon, traveling at high speeds over the Colorado landscape. In the end, it was discovered that Falcon was merely hiding in the garage. Over the weekend, I joined the chorus of people growing skeptical about the validity of this story, especially after a series of puzzling and somewhat shocking TV interviews with the family.

After Falcon announced on CNN that he “did it for the show,” rumors soared that the family constructed the incident as a PR attempt to gain attention so they may create their own network reality TV show. On Saturday afternoon, Gawker ran an exclusive interview with someone claiming they have a history of helping the family with such a stunt. Veterans of ABC’s reality show Wife Swap, the Heene family has had its own brush with TV fame in the past. On Sunday, Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden has begun to reveal that evidence suggests this was all manipulated for publicity. The end goal? Alderden reports they have found materials that imply the family wanted to get a contract for a reality TV show.

(The Heene family, on their episode of Wife Swap, in front of the infamous balloon.)

If the police presses charges, there could be some major penalties enforced. As revealed during the press conference, the family could face felony charges and it’s possible there could be some federal charges. The sheriff did admit that, if only state felony charges are enforced, it’s unlikely jail time will be involved. This is obviously very sad, especially for the three young boys in the Heene family. No matter what happens, this fame-seeking event has almost certainly ruined the Heene family. More and more information about their lives is being spilled, including the reality that Richard Heene is not at all the “scientist” he claimed to be. The family was reportedly on hard financial times, and one could assume that’s why they risked criminal charges (and the scorn of the entire country), to maybe get to where Jon & Kate are today. And, looking at the personal problems for Jon & Kate Gosselin after they decided to have their own reality show, what stable parent would ever wish that fate on their clan? Is financial benefit and tabloid stardom, truly worth disrupting your family’s safety? For some, it appears to be the case.

As grounded as his Sunday delivery was, Sheriff Alderden couldn’t help but add that he’d make an exception for Bill O’Reilly, but that he was not interested in any additional press coverage. This whole episode is so ridiculous, even as it gets more criminally serious, it can be hard to maintain a straight face. At Sunday’s press conference, the family was deemed a “flight risk.”

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Uncategorized and tagged

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox