BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — The Palins are creeping up on the Kardashians in their campaign to become the first family of reality TV, as ABC announced Friday that Bristol Palin had been cast in its fall all-star edition of “Dancing With the Stars.”
“I don’t think it’s our business,” Bristol said of her family, when one TV critic asked about the Palin family reality-TV dynasty. “I just think you guys are going to be talking about us either way, so we might as well be doing something enjoyable and fun.”
“Dancing” host Tom Bergeron jumped in, joking: “You haven’t gone Full Kardashian.”
“No — not at all,” Bristol answered seriously.
At press time, the score: The Kardashian family has six reality series to its name: “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” “Kourtney & Khloe Take Miami,” “Kourtney & Kim Take New York,” “Khloe & Lamar” and two editions of “Dancing With the Stars.” (And if you count the two-part, four-hour “Kim’s Fairytale Wedding” as its own “series,” it would bring that family’s tally to seven.)
The Palin family now has five reality series to its name, including two editions of “DWTS”; Lifetime’s “Bristol Palin: Life’s a Tripp”; Todd Palin’s new NBC reality series, “Stars Earn Stripes”; and TLC’s “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.”
The majority of the all-star edition’s celebs are former “Dancing” winners or runners-up. (Bristol, daughter of former Alaska governor/GOP VPOTUS candidate/reality star Sarah Palin, was the Season 11 second runner-up.)
The celeb lineup includes: Season 12 runner-up Kirstie Alley, Season 10 competitor Pamela Anderson, Season 5 winner Helio Castroneves, Season 4 runner-up Joey Fatone, Season 8 winner Shawn Johnson, Season 2 winner Drew Lachey, Season 8 runner-up Gilles Marini, Season 1 winner Kelly Monaco, Season 4 winner Apolo Anton Ohno, Season 8 second runner-up Melissa Rycroft and Season 3 winner Emmitt Smith.
The announcement was made at Summer TV Press Tour 2012, and most of the celebs showed up for a Q&A session with TV critics.
Not all the questions were addressed to Palin. Bristol just got more questions than any other celeb on the panel. Or, rather, “question” — TV critics kept asking her the same question, over and over, in hopes she’d finally answer it: Why are you doing this show when you say you hate the media attention so much?
“Why would you want to do this again?” is how it was asked the first time.
The first time, she answered that “God provides opportunities like this, and you either go out and do them or not do them. The press will talk about me whether I do it or not, so I might as well be having fun.”
The second time was when the question veered into that discussion about reality TV being the Palin family business.
One TV critic went rogue and asked Bristol whether this time around, she would “have more love for the gays” — but then, the critic also put that question to Anderson.
“Well, I love them,” Anderson responded first.
“You know what? I like gays. I’m not a homophobic, and I’m sick of people saying that, just because I’m for traditional marriage,” Bristol answered.
The third (or does this make fourth?) time Bristol got asked The Question, the critic wondered whether the “media” really would not have “left her alone” had she — after the 2008 presidential election — decided to “raise your child and find work or education” in Alaska and “live peacefully” there. That critic wondered, aloud: “Is there shame in saying, ‘I like being a reality star,’ rather than going with, ‘The media won’t leave me alone?’ ”
“I couldn’t tell you what would have happened,” she said. “I like my life in Alaska. . . . This is a fun gig, and I’m not whining or complaining. I’m going to go out there and have fun. . . .You guys will talk about me, if I’m in my little life in Alaska or in L.A., so I might as well have fun with it.”
And the final time Bristol got asked The Question, the critic asked, “Is there anything about all the [media] coverage that you like?”
“Well, like I said, God provides opportunities,” she repeated, adding, “This is an amazing opportunity.”
“I’m asking you about the coverage,” the critic persisted. “Is there any part you like?”
“Do I like to provide for my son? Yes, I do!” she said, casting off the proselytizing to reveal, well, the reality.
Bristol needs this gig — her most recent reality series, “Bristol Palin: Life’s a Tripp,” about her life in Alaska with her son, is doing so poorly in the ratings for Lifetime that the network moved it out of prime time and sent it to late night.
And in one of those happy coincidences that make covering the TV industry so heartwarming, “Dancing” needs Bristol, who proved a ratings and Web-traffic magnet for the show in its 11th edition.
Exec producer Conrad Green insisted that the show was doing an all-star edition this year because “Dancing” needed to build up enough of a “heritage” and, more practically, the show “needed enough time to build up the stock, as it were” of dancers.
He forgot to mention that “Dancing” suffered record ratings lows in its most recent season. One TV critic did that for him, mentioning that the last cycle’s “historic [low] ratings” and asking Green whether he thought an all-star edition was “enough to address that problem.”
Green noted that the most recent edition was the first to compete against NBC’s singing competition “The Voice,” which “Dancing” managed to beat comfortably every week among all viewers (although not among the ones in ABC’s target demographic group: 18- to 49-year-olds).
To read previous columns by Lisa de Moraes and the latest from the Summer TV Press Tour, go to washingtonpost.com/tvblog.