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Working on 'The Biggest Loser,' Alex Katz '96 illustrates the inspirational stories of contestants striving to lose weight

Like the participants in his reality show, Alex Katz '96 is always working to trim down.

As co-executive producer of the popular reality show "The Biggest Loser," Katz condenses hundreds of hours of footage into 83-minute episodes to bring out the sometimes emotional, often-inspiring stories of the overweight contestants who are competing to lose weight. He'll oversee the editing of as many as five shows at a time.

"The feedback for this show is different from others I've worked on," he said. "People will tell me that they're losing weight or joining weight loss groups because of it. It's very rewarding."

Previously, Katz had started to become well-known in the reality TV circuit, working on shows like "Hell's Kitchen," "The Bachelor" and "Beauty and the Geek." When he had a chance to become co-executive producer of "The Biggest Loser," he jumped at it.

"I really wanted to work on a show with a greater purpose and found that here," he said. "It's not your typical reality show."

Part of what makes "The Biggest Loser" unique is how involved the audience is. Episodes offer healthy tips on losing weight for viewers at home; for example, chewing gum can help prevent food cravings. Fans have also started their own Biggest Loser clubs in an effort to live healthier lifestyles – the production company Katz works for, 3 Ball Productions, even has one – and still others visit the show's site for recipes or training advice.

Katz found his first job in the television/film industry as an undergrad, working with a production company in New York City he found through the Office of Career Enhancing Life Skills (CELS).

Katz, who majored in English and theater, said that though Connecticut College didn't offer a film major, that in no way made him less enthusiastic about his education. He said that students can go to a small liberal arts college and still be successful in television.

"I didn't get lost in the masses and was able to get really involved early on," he said. "I couldn't have asked for anything more."

Though the film and television industry can be difficult to break into, Katz believes that the theory of getting a big break is a myth. "Something I picked up at Connecticut College was that if you put in the time, you can move up, just like anything else in life," he said. And fellow co-executive producer, Todd Lubin, can attest to Katz's hard work ethic.

On the set of "The Biggest Loser," Katz is known for his organizational skills. Lubin said that the crew often comments on the board in his office showing the schedules of the many editors he oversees, joking that Katz looks like he's planning a military operation, not a TV show.

"Many would say that the most important part of reality television is editing," Lubin said. "Alex has an extremely difficult job, but he keeps his head on straight and does great work."

Season eight of "The Biggest Loser," which focuses on second chances, premiered Sept. 14. To watch, check your local listings.

- Rachel Harrington

September 18, 2009