Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sarah Palin wants to star in her own reality TV series

Looks like former Republican vice presidential candidate and Alaskan governor Sarah Palin is back in the news again (Or has she ever been out of the news?). I found this interesting news story that made me stop and ask...what? Here is a March 4, 2010 ABC News story where Palin is shopping around for her own reality TV series:

We knew Sarah Palin was in Los Angeles this week. What we didn't know was that she was shopping...shopping around a reality TV show.

Yes, the former vice presidential candidate is venturing outside of politics and into the land of "The Real Housewives," "The Bachelor" and "Dancing With the Stars."

Palin's show would be set in Alaska and follow her family celebrating the natural beauty that surrounds them.

Her business partner is none other than reality show producer Mark Burnett, who famously asked, "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" He also helped coin the Donald Trump phrase, "You're Fired!" And he created that father of all reality shows, "Survivor."

Surviving is something Palin has mastered. But would a Palin reality program survive?

"The fact that they are shopping this show to broadcast networks, rather than cable networks, shows that there's a lot of interest in her," says Matthew Belloni, managing editor of features for The Hollywood Reporter. "I will say, she is an A-list personality and a reality show starring her would command A-list money."

Industry insiders suggest she could make well into six figures, perhaps more than $1 million an episode.

The ABC News story reports that the cast for MTV's reality series "Jersey Shore" earn around $10,000 per episode. Sarah Palin is asking for a million per episode. If someone produces 22 episodes of Palin's new series, then Palin collects a $22 million paycheck from the series. That is just Palin's paycheck--that is not counting the cost such a studio will have to pay for producing and filming each episode.

And yet, cable television networks are interested in Sarah Palin's series. From Reuters:

Sources say A&E Networks and Discovery Communications want to acquire Palin's project, which focuses on the ex-governor giving a guided tour of her native Alaska -- visiting fishing boats and taking a trip to a gold mine, to cite a couple of examples. Mark Burnett is executive producer of the project, whose working title is "Sarah Palin's Alaska."

A&E Networks hasn't officially put in a bid for the show, but sources indicate that the company is interested in the project for several of its brands -- A&E, History or Lifetime.

Discovery Communications is likewise vying for the project for one or more of its outlets, such as TLC. Some sources say the flagship Discovery Channel is no longer in play, while others say otherwise.

The former vice presidential candidate is asking for between $1 million and $1.5 million per episode, a hefty amount for a first-year cable series.

Palin initially pitched the show to broadcast networks. Given the show's laid-back nature theme and lack of high-stakes drama that tends to typify broadcast reality hits, industry executives see cable as a better fit.

A&E is the home of bold reality fare like "Intervention" and "Dog the Bounty Hunter," while Discovery has compatible outdoors series, such as Alaska-set "Deadliest Catch."

"It will sell," predicts one insider. "One way or another."

Now I'm not going to criticize Sarah Palin for being greedy here in asking for a million per episode. I'm not even going to criticize network executives for expressing interest in "Sarah Palin's Alaska." What I am surprised is that there will be probably be enough conservative Americans so willing to watch Sarah Palin give us guided tours of shooting wolves from helicopters, or showing us Russia from her house. Then again, Sarah Palin is the darling of the conservative movement. Will these conservatives turn away from the Fox News rantings to watch Sarah Palin on A&E or Discovery?

It is also interesting that Mark Burnett, the father of the "Survivor" reality TV series, has latched on to this Sarah Palin TV series. I wonder if Burnett will make Sarah Palin engage in physical challenges for an immunity idol, or not have Donald Trump tell Palin, "You're fired" from her own TV series--that is if Sarah Palin doesn't quit her reality TV series first. I guess Burnett has got to find another reality TV spin, as Survivor and the Apprentice have gotten really stale and old. There is really nothing new with either Survivor or Apprentice (Or even Celebrity Apprentice), except for the names of the contestants--be it Heroes and Villains, or the latest crop of has-been celebrities. Burnett's "Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader" is really dumb--a game show based on fifth grade educational trivia questions. Of course, I've heard somewhere that the average American has the equivalence of the sixth grade education (Not sure if it is true or not), so maybe this game show appeals to average Americans. So Mark Burnett has to think up another reality TV series to go up against, not only his current crop of reality TV series, but Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, Project Runway, food reality TV shows, Deadliest Catch, Dog, and who knows what other reality TV is out there. What's better than to have a popular has-been governor and VP candidate talking to her rabid, conservative-loving fan base about Alaska? I'm guessing such a series would be a hit for the conservative fans of Sarah Palin. I can't say if Sarah Palin's Alaska will gain enough ratings to pay for the show's expenses, or even Sarah Palin's million dollar per episode paycheck. Then again, I will not be watching the series.

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