TV: Todd Palin to be on ‘Stars Earn Stripes’

June 19, 2012

Sarah Palin’s husband, Todd, is among those competing in NBC’s new reality series “Stars Earn Stripes,” the network revealed Tuesday.

This is not entirely surprising, given that “SES” exec producer Mark Burnett also exec-produced Sarah’s TLC reality series “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.” And late last year, word around Hollywood was that Sarah and Burnett were pitching a reality series about Todd’s career as a championship snowmobile racer. Apparently, there were no takers.

Maybe more surprising, retired Gen. Wesley Clark, the former supreme allied commander in Europe for NATO and a 2004 presidential candidate, is going to host the show with “Entertainment Tonight”/“Dancing With the Stars” alumna Samantha Harris.

We’ll give you a moment to mull that pairing.

“The general’s legendary record in the U.S. Armed Forces commands respect as he brings so much practical knowledge that will infuse the show with priceless insight,” Paul Telegdy, NBC’s president of alternative and late-night programming, said in Monday’s announcement.


From left, front: Nick Lachey, Dean Cain; center, Terry Crews, Picabo Street, Eve Torres, Todd Palin; top, Laila Ali, Dolvett Quince. (Chris Haston/NBC)

When “Stars Earn Stripes” debuts in August, Todd will be part of a lineup of “celebrities,” many of whom are serial reality-series participants: boxing royalty Laila Ali, actor Dean Cain, former NFL player Terry Crews, singer Nick Lachey, Olympic gold medalist Picabo Street, NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” trainer Dolvett Quince and WWE star Eve Torres.

The Palins have emerged as the Barrymores of reality TV.

Todd’s gig was announced the same day that Lifetime was scheduled to debut “Life’s a Tripp,” starring daughter Bristol, other daughter Willow and grandson Tripp, as they move from Wasilla, Alaska, to one of the many Palazzo Foreclozzos in Hollywood — this one with an excess of bidets, according to a teaser clip posted by the cable network. Then, they will move back to Alaska — all part of Bristol’s “everyday life as a single mother living under intense media scrutiny that comes from her lineage as the daughter of former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.”

Bristol made her reality-TV debut in the fall of 2010, on the 11th season of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.” She got plenty of screen time on that show, making it all the way to the finals. Also getting major “DWTS” screen time: Sarah, who appeared in the audience many weeks in support of her daughter; in one episode, Sarah was interviewed by host Tom Bergeron.

Bristol made her Hollywood debut in the summer of ’10 in a guest turn on ABC Family’s “The Secret Life of the American Teenager.

Sarah, meanwhile, starred in TLC’s “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” which aired in late 2010; Todd, Bristol, Tripp and Willow also honed their reality-TV skills on that show. (About the time that it started shooting, Bristol and her son’s father, Levi Johnston, were shopping around a reality show about their relationship, but no network rose to the bait.)

Each week on “Stars Earn Stripes,” the competitors, teamed with members of the military or law enforcement, will attempt to complete “missions” inspired by military exercises. The winnings will be donated to first-responder and veterans groups. Todd, for example, is playing for Armed Services YMCA Alaska, NBC said.

“I am thrilled to join ‘Stars Earn Stripes’ as host and look forward to watching the celebrity cast members test themselves as they step up to take on these tough challenges,” Clark said in a statement about the show, which Burnett is exec-producing with Dick Wolf and David A. Hurwitz (“Fear Factor”).

A ‘House’ of straw

After about $16 million in marketing — and who knows how much in lawyer-billable hours later — ABC snagged just fewer than 4 million viewers Monday night for the launch of its new reality series “The Glass House.”

In its 10 p.m. time slot, “The Glass House” attracted about 1 million fewer viewers than CBS and NBC, both of which had been suckered into thinking — based on the hoopla about the show in the media — that the “The Glass House” launch would be a sort of Tyrannosaurus rex of reality-series premieres.

CBS dumped its repeat of “Hawaii Five-O” and instead broadcast “The Big Bang Theory” and “Two and a Half Men” reruns. NBC, meanwhile, tossed overboard its usual “Grimm” repeat and puffed up its “American Ninja Warrior” so that it would run more than two hours, from 9 to 11 p.m.

Anyway, to put the 4 million in perspective: One week earlier, ABC’s “Castle” rerun had attracted 5 million viewers in the same hour.

In its first broadcast, “The Glass House” fumbled about 3 million of its “Bachelorette” lead-in audience.

More troubling for ABC, about 800,000 viewers who’d watched the first half-hour of “The Glass House” said “no thanks” to the second half.

But, of course, ABC’s in the business of selling 18- to 49-year-olds to advertisers; in that age bracket, “The Glass House” scored 1.5 percent of the population — a considerable improvement over that “Castle” rerun, which snared 1 percent last week.

That 1.5 percent of the country’s 18-to-49 demographic put “The Glass House” on par with those CBS sitcom repeats (1.6 percent), but behind “American Ninja Warrior,” which bagged 2 percent of the country’s audience in the age bracket.

“The Glass House” premiered Monday despite CBS’s best efforts to get a judge to put the kibosh on it, with the network claiming that the show is a knockoff of its “Big Brother.”

“Hooey,” responded ABC — or words to that effect — in the course of which that network revealed that it had spent a whopping $16 million in marketing for “The Glass House” premiere.

Anyway, after much back-and-forthing by lawyers representing each network, a judge decided not to issue a temporary restraining order. CBS has vowed to keep on fighting and says it will prevail — it even gave Entertainment Weekly a list of 12 ways in which “The Glass House” is exactly the same as “Big Brother,” including:

●Reality unscripted TV competition program set entirely in a house on a soundstage;

●Contestants cut off from the outside world;

●50 cameras (plus microphones) monitor contestants around the clock to create a voyeuristic feel;

●Streams live to the Internet;

●12 to 14 contestants;

●Viewer input via online and text message;

●Narrative is an unpredictable, evolving story of competition and elimination;

●Grumpy;

●Sleepy;

●Bashful;

and

●Dopey.

To read previous columns by Lisa de Moraes, go to washingtonpost.com/ tvcolumn.

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