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'Biggest Loser's Jillian Michaels is taking her (new) show on the road

October 20, 2009 | 12:52 pm
Jillian-Losing-It If Jillian Michaels were pounding on your front door ... would you let her in?

NBC announced today that it is giving "The Biggest Loser" trainer her own show: "Losing It with Jillian Michaels." Scheduled to debut next year, the show will star the tiny tyrant as she crisscrosses the country, moving in with families and providing tough-love life coaching.

The focus won't be just on weight loss and fitness -- although that will be a key part of it. Michaels will also examine family dynamics, finances, career goals -- even whether Mom and Dad are still having s-e-x, and if not, why not.

"We're essentially rebooting them," Michaels said today during a media conference call.

"It's not about fat to thin," Michaels later added. "It's about being stuck and getting unstuck."

Michaels will call upon a fleet of experts as needed but has announced only one team member: Aussie heartthrob chef Curtis Stone, who has appeared on "The Biggest Loser." Stone will help families get back in the kitchen and cook.

Michael said that she has no plans to leave "The Biggest Loser," saying she'll stay as long as NBC will have her. But she said the show gives her a chance to break out from the archetype she often gets stuck playing on NBC's weight-loss reality show.

That Jillian is a caricature, she said, adding that the camera plays up the 15 minutes where she loses it and begins tearing into contestants. "The were 23 other hours and 45 minutes where I was lovely."

That portrayal, she added, has been "limiting."

She defended the hollering and screaming as necessary to break through to contestants who are so obese they are literally fighting for their lives. But she said audiences can expect to see a different side of her on "Losing It."

"I'm going to do whatever the situation calls for. If it requires me being soft, I will be soft. ... I think you'll get a really good idea of who I truly am ... the method behind the madness."

The challenge won't just be for the families, either.

Jillian will actually be living with the family, sleeping under their roof, eating from their refrigerator, tagging along to school and work, and even getting her own workouts in along with them. Once she understands their life, she will begin to dismantle it and put it back together, Jillian style.

"I won't be yelling at children," she joked, or dropping f-bombs in their presence. She does, however, reserve the right to verbally rough up their parents, in private.

She confessed to having anxiety about branching out on her own. "I'm actually terrified." But said she hopes to grow and improve as a trainer just as she is asking her wards to grow and improve as well.

The show is an enhancement of "The Biggest Loser," she said.

" 'The Biggest Loser' is the end of the road, the last resort" for morbidly obese contestants. But the show focuses on weight loss, challenges and temptations. Now always the how and why of change, Michales said.

"This is showing more of what we do what we do, bringing it to people's homes."

There will also be the beloved "where are they now?" moment that is a popular part of "The Biggest Loser."

At the end of Michaels' week with a family, she will give them a series of guidelines. "We'll give them an ultimatum. 'These are your marching orders. We expect this much change.' "

And then she'll be back.  

The update momments won't be as jaw-dropping, though, as losing 100 pounds. Maybe they lost 30 pounds, finally applied for and got into college, paid off their debts, and brought down their cholesterol levels, she said.

She said the emphasis will be on the doable -- taking small steps toward success: "We don't need Americans to lose 100 pounds in seven weeks. ... I'll take 100 pounds in a year." 

The impetus for the show was the complaint Michaels says she always hears: "Losing weight would be easy for me too if I were on 'The Biggest Loser' Ranch."

"All right," she said. "Now we're coming to you."

The show will work within a family's financial means. If they cannot afford a gym membership, she will help them set up a gym in their home. Or she might examine their food bill and realize were they can cut out fattening and unhealthy food and drink -- and make room for a membership after all. 

"We're taking all the excuses and turning them into solutions," she said.

She said the goal is to intervene in people's lives before they need a last-resort option like "The Biggest Loser."

She said she has a special affinity for children who are struggling with food and fitness. As a teen, she at one point was 5 feet tall and 175 pounds. Today, she is 5-foot-2 and weights about 120. Martial arts was her gateway out.

Jillian said there is one element of "The Biggest Loser" that she is happy to leave behind: eliminations and temptations. She acknowledges they make for good TV but says she hates that aspect of the show.

"Am I excited to not have elimination? You bet I am," she said. Instead, she said her new show will be about "real life, man. This is it, there are no challenges, there are no temptations other than what exist [in real life]. ... I'm talking about vending machines at the office, happy hour with the coworkers."

-- Rene Lynch

Photo credit: NBC Universal

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