Bristol, retooled again, set for debut; ‘House’ heads home

May 22, 2012

More than a year after it was first announced, Bristol Palin’s latest foray into reality TV will finally become, well, a reality on June 19.

Except that the premise has changed again slightly, bringing the premise tally to three, to date.

Lifetime announced Tuesday that it will telecast two episodes of “Bristol Palin: Life’s a Tripp” each Tuesday night. The series will follow Bristol’s life as a single mom “living under intense media scrutiny that comes from her lineage as the daughter of former Alaska Governor and Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin.”

Only now, Bristol will be moving from Wasilla, Alaska, to Los Angeles with younger sister Willow. And then, apparently, back to Alaska “as she deals with parenting and disciplining her toddler without Tripp’s father.”

We first heard of Bristol’s next stab at reality-TV fame back in May of 2011, when Bio channel announced it had bought an unnamed reality series in which Bristol — the country’s most famous unwed-pregnant-daughter-of-vice-presidential-candidate-turned-abstinence-advocate-turned-“Dancing-With-the-Stars”-competitor — moves from Alaska to Los Angeles with Tripp, and they move in with “her good friends Chris and Kyle Massey” while Bristol works for some small, unnamed, children’s charity. The plan was to have the show air on Bio first, then on A&E and then on Lifetime network. All three networks fall under the A&E Television Networks (AETN) banner.


Bristol Palin, daughter of Sarah Palin, former governor of Alaska, smiles before taking part in the Rolling Thunder motorcycle ride to honour U.S. veterans in Washington May 29, 2011. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Bristol and Kyle, the network explained, became BFFs while competing together on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.” Kyle had a relationship with the reality series’ production house, Associated Television International; he works on its syndicated clip show called “World’s Funniest Moments,” and the Massey brothers also have been “roving reporters” on the company’s production of the annual Hollywood Christmas Parade.

Ensuing reports that Bristol and Kyle were an item were deemed a “bald, dumb lie” by the exec producer, who added that he sure did like all that “interesting publicity.”

Not long thereafter, reports surfaced that Kyle — a rapper/ Disney kid star whose credits include the Disney Channel’s “That’s So Raven” and “Cory in the House” — was unhappy with how Bristol’s show was working out and that it had been scrapped, which Bio denied. Later, Bio acknowledged that it had “decided not to move forward” with the show and, in February, Lifetime announced it had bought a Bristol reality series.

At that point, the premise changed; the Massey brothers were out, and the show would give us an exclusive, rare glimpse into Bristol’s life in Alaska as a young single mother, “forging her own way in the world, living under the constant spotlight as a member of one of America’s most high-profile families.”

Tuesday’s announcement, however, says Bristol moves from Alaska and then back with Willow, who, you may recall, stole some of Bristol’s spotlight during her “Dancing” days. That’s when reports surfaced that the younger Palin daughter used homophobic comments on Facebook to bash a classmate who was nicking their mother, whose reality series, “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” was premiering at that time on TLC.

‘House’s’ ‘big’ goodbye

About 9 million viewers tuned in to see Fox’s doc drama “House” limp to its end Monday night.

Well, technically, House faked his death, then he and Wilson rode off into the sunset to spend, on their motorcycles, however much time cancer-stricken Wilson has left, but the effect was the same.

Oh yeah — spoiler alert. Frankly, the real culprit here is Fox, which spoiled it by airing it Monday at 9, instead of whatever night is more convenient for you.

Fox noted that was the biggest audience in 31 / 2 months for the show, in which Hugh Laurie starred for eight seasons as irascible Dr. Gregory House. Three and a half months — this is what is known in the TV industry as damning with faint praise, which is what network promo departments are left to do when a good TV series stays at the party too long.

What a shame “House” didn’t bow out in 2010. That year, its season finale clocked more than 11 million viewers. Had the show called it quits back then, who knows how many more people would have watched? As it is, the 11 million would have put the “House” swan song on par with the so-long episodes of such shows as ABC’s “Desperate Housewives.”

Even better, had “House” sailed off into the sunset in May of 2009, we’d be gushing that a whopping 13 million people said goodbye.

Fox also noted that Monday’s “House” closing was the night’s highest-rated program among 18- to 34-year-olds. Among 18- to 49-year-old guys, it tied for first with “America’s Got Talent,” which had new judge Howard Stern.

The “House” series finale averaged 2.9 percent of the country’s 18- to 49-year-olds. To put that in perspective, Monday’s episode of “Dancing With the Stars” — ABC’s older-skewing dance-competition series — attracted 2.8 percent of the country’s 18- to 49-year-olds.

Three years ago, the “House” season finale attracted nearly 5 percent of the country’s 18- to 49-year-olds.

To read previous columns by Lisa de Moraes, visit washingtonpost.com/ tvblog.

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