Sarah Palin's about to Discover the joys of reality TV with new series

By Lisa de Moraes
Friday, March 26, 2010

Sarah Palin is about to become the newest star of the TLC network, joining the ranks of Kate Gosselin, tattoo queen Kat Von D and prolific baby-maker Jim Bob Duggar.

TLC parent Discovery Communications confirmed Thursday that it has obtained global rights to an eight-episode show tentatively called "Sarah Palin's Alaska."

But while previous reports had called the project a "reality series" or "travelogue" about our 49th state, Discovery said what it bought was a "documentary series" about "the remarkable Governor Palin and her home state of Alaska."

The company, based in Silver Spring, did not say when filming would start or when the series would debut. But the hope is to take advantage of the good weather and hours of sunlight in the spring and summer for shooting, a company rep told The TV Column, and TLC is looking at putting it on the lineup in early fourth quarter.

"Our family enjoys Discovery's networks," Palin said in Thursday's announcement, adding that she is looking forward to bringing "the wonder and majesty of Alaska to all Americans."

"Discovery Communications is so excited to help Sarah Palin tell the story of Alaska," said Discovery Communications Chief Operating Officer Peter Liguori, who, ironically, before joining Discovery in January, was most recently the champion of Fox's animated series "Family Guy" in his capacity as CEO of Fox Entertainment.

"Family Guy," you'll recall, is the animated Seth MacFarlane series in which a teenage girl who has Down syndrome told her date she is the daughter of a former governor of Alaska -- causing Palin to go on the war path against "Fox Hollywood," saying the show had slammed of her son Trig, who also has Down syndrome, and that it was just the latest "kick in the gut" against her. Small world, isn't it?

The new Palin show is being executive produced by Mark Burnett. Burnett produces the Hollywood-celebrity-filled MTV Movie Awards, which, most recently, featured the very scantily clad comic-actor Sacha Baron Cohen descending from the rafters into the face of seated rapper Eminem.

Burnett also executive produces the Hollywood-celebrity-studded "Apprentice," which this season features Ozzy Osbourne's wife Sharon; Bret Michaels, who is the star of VH1's trashy dating show "Rock of Love"; and singer Cyndi Lauper, among others. Burnett became a household name as producer of CBS's reality hit "Survivor."

Only time will tell whether this series will put at further risk Palin's anti-Hollywood cred. The announcement comes a month after Palin's daughter Bristol said she was heading off to become one of those Hollywood types with whom Palin has so many issues. Bristol will make her acting debut this summer on ABC Family's teen drama "The Secret Life of the American Teenager," which gives the Hollywood treatment to the issue of teen pregnancy. ABC Family is owned by Disney.

Burnett first pitched the Alaska show to the broadcast networks -- he and Palin were seen visiting "Family Guy" network Fox, as well as ABC, CBS and NBC in early March, according to press reports that broke news of the project. The series, those reports said, came with a hefty asking price of $1 million per episode. The price agreed upon by Discovery is something south of that, according to a source with knowledge of the deal.

After the broadcast networks didn't bite, Burnett focused on selling the show to a cable network.

The new Palin series is not the politician's first regular TV gig. Two months ago, she became a paid contributor at Fox News, which, like the Fox broadcast network -- a.k.a. "Fox Hollywood" -- is owned by News Corp.

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