Haha! Very good, Bill. I used to hack myself. In LA, however, not NYC (though I lived there for the past 25 years). Not terribly surprised to hear about TC. I haven't seen that show in some years.
When I worked in Whole Foods LES they wanted us to sign a contract for Top Chef absolving TC producers for any negative portrayal, injury or even fatality in the course of filming the show. Of course that's not phoniness or manipulation. But it seem unreasonable.
There's a series called LA Complex about actors & wannabes in LA. One appears on a reality show, & I thought writers did a good job depicting how utterly fake & manipulated they are.