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‘Fear’ is not afraid of hatred

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PASADENA, Calif. — Well, here's a surprise — the host and producers of NBC's "Fear Factor" know that there are a lot of people out there who hate their show, but they just don't care.

"This is a show that is somewhat controversial and, fortunately, we live in a country where you're able to choose what you want to watch and what you don't want to watch," said executive producer David Goldberg.

"What is great is that millions and millions of people do like the show," said executive producer Mike Kunitz.

As there are millions and millions of people who like even the lowest-rated programs on TV. But, in the case of "Fear Factor," there does seem to be a particularly high level of dislike — even "hatred," in the words of host Joe Rogan — for the show.

There are a couple of reasons the people who hate the show feel the way they do. For one thing, there are the sick, disgusting stunts it asks contestants to participate in — including eating gross things or getting up close and personal with rats or snakes or cockroaches. For another, despite their protestations that their stunts can't be imitated, there's the danger that younger (or, perhaps, dumber) viewers might try some of these dangerous stunts at home and get themselves hurt. Or worse.

Rogan, for one, isn't surprised that there are people who hate that kind of stuff.

"As a stand-up comedian, I'm not (surprised), because I'm used to people getting angry at me," he said. "It happens all the time.

"I was a little surprised at the depth of it, but I wasn't surprised that people hated it. I thought that it would either be canceled immediately or be very successful."

But Rogan does think that people who hate "Fear Factor" are "pretty silly" because "there's a broad spectrum of what people find entertaining."

And Goldberg had the more typical response to criticism — it's only the critics who have a problem.

"Frankly, most of the people that I come across that really have disdain for the show or don't like it are critics," he said. "Most of the people I meet on the street or conversations I listen in to — it's generally very positive, so that makes us feel good."

Well, don't feel too good. Even Rogan doesn't quite buy that line.

"That's because you're not the host," he said. Every now and then I run into somebody on the street who hates it. They get mad at me and I'm, like, 'I'm just the host.' "

E-MAIL: pierce@desnews.com