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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

TV6's Reality Show Refuses to Accept Reality

The makers of "Za Steklom," the television reality show that was once on TV6, handed over a copy of Komsomolskaya Pravda to the captive participants. On the front page was the news that TV6 had been closed down.

Panic instantly filled the air, and the participants demanded to go home.

Then the director told them that it was a joke.

That was last year when "Za Steklom," which put six young men and women into an apartment at the Rossiya hotel, captivated and repelled a nation with its vicarious and often crude view of young life.

For the sequel, "Za Steklom: Posledny Bifsteks," or "Behind the Glass: The Last Beef Steak," the joke came true when TV6 was shut down this week.

Although the Boris Berezovsky-owned channel may no longer exist, dozens of cameras are still recording the 12 men and women who were locked away Saturday in an apartment opposite the Golden Palace casino near Belorussky Station. One-way mirrors still allow passers-by to watch them in the bedroom, living room and bathroom, and security guards still protect them from their fans.

That is if there were any.

No one saw Lena trim her fingernails or the salad-making lesson Wednesday except for the show's crew, a few die-hards watching via the show's web site and a host of journalists who descended on the set to write about the program nobody is broadcasting.

For now, all the participants are staying put and the producers are still putting together a show.

The makers of "Za Steklom," who sped to the studio right after TV6 was pulled from the air at midnight Monday, broke the news to the participants the next day. After being convinced that it wasn't a prank, the 12 agreed to stay on.

The makers of the show, however, know that they are operating in a vacuum and that without the oxygen of television time, the show won't survive.

Negotiations have started up with a number of other channels for rights to "Za Steklom," said the director, who remains anonymous on the show and refuses to let his name be published. He refused to say which channels were in the negotiations. The show is expected to be back on the air by Saturday.

Saturday is an important day for the show as it is when the 12 participants are to open two competing restaurants next to the apartment they are living in.

Each six-member team has been given 1 million rubles to start up a food business that anyone can visit for a cover charge of 300 to 500 rubles, which excludes the price of the food.

A week later, viewers will begin voting off participants until only one remains. The winner will get the chance to open his own restaurant.

That all depends on whether there are any viewers.

For now, the show is not even attracting visitors to stare through the one-way mirrors, and a sign that says it costs 20 rubles to look into the apartment looks very hopeful.

"TV6 doesn't exist. Every program has to decide for itself," said the director, who acknowledges that the move to another channel may be seen as a betrayal to TV6.

"I'm in charge of a program that needs viewers," he said. "I answer for the people who work here."

Despite being off air, the director sees one good thing coming out of the affair. The program is about setting up a business, he says, and in setting up a business you have to deal with all kinds of force majeurs.

"It shows the difficulty of business [in Russia]," he said, "It's one of the positive and unexpected things to come out of this."