In “Stars Earn Stripes,” celebrities get teamed with members of the military, law enforcement, or other first responders, and compete in actual military exercises to win cash for charities.
“What did your son say to you?” a critic asked him, of older son Track Palin, who spent a year deployed in Iraq. “Did he say it’s going to be too hard and you’re not going to be able to do it?”
“He’s always up for a good laugh, so he encouraged me to do it,” Palin responded.
Todd Palin’s participation is not entirely surprising, given that one of the show’s exec producers, Mark Burnett, also exec-produced Sarah Palin’s TLC reality series “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.” And, late last year, word around Hollywood was that Sarah Palin and Burnett were pitching a reality series about Todd’s career as a champion snowmobile racer.
But, there’s no denying the new show will air on NBC, home of “Saturday Night Live,” which, as one TV critic pointed out to Todd Palin during the “Stars Earn Stripes” Q&A, “made a lot of fun of your wife in the last few years.”
“Did you resent that when ‘Saturday Night Live’ did it, and did you have second thoughts about being on NBC now?”
Answered Todd: “I was invited to participate in this competition to raise money for military-based charities, and that was the last thing in the back of my mind when I made the decision to be part of this event and to hang out with these military ops and these celebrity contestants, and to be able to shed a light on our guys that keep us safe and save lives and defend our freedom every day.”
More to the point, some wondered why Gen. Wesley Clark had signed on to host the show. The former Supreme Allied Commander Europe for NATO and 2004 presidential candidate told the TV critics he agreed to join “Entertainment Tonight” and “Dancing with the Stars” alum Samantha Harris to host “Stars Earn Stripes” because while “everybody says the Armed Forces is one of the great institutions of America” and it usually ranks, in polls “above, let’s say, Congress or school teachers or something else in terms of most admired institutions…so many young Americans don’t have any direct connection to it.”
Then someone asked the Special Ops guys on the Q&A panel why THEY agreed to do the show. Brent Gleeson, a former Navy SEAL, told them, “Honestly, another reason I think we all did this show is not just for the charities and to shine the spotlight on the soldiers that have gone before us and those that will continue to fight the fight.
“I mean, let’s be honest — recruitment is a huge aspect and focus in the Special Operations Forces right now, as it is in the police force,” Gleeson explained. “And it’s difficult. It’s difficult to get the right people into the top of the funnel because the training is so difficult that you’re only graduating the same amount of people in every class… We’ve tried to continually change the program to where we can recruit better, we can prepare people better before they even get to these difficult programs. So, I mean, if recruitment is improved by an amazing show like this, then we’re all the better for it.”