Category: TLC

3 reality shows 'Jersey Shore' producer SallyAnn Salsano wishes she'd created

Salsano Sure, SallyAnn Salsano is the creator-producer of MTV’s hit show “Jersey Shore,” which returns to MTV for a new season August 4th, but she can’t help but be a little envious that she didn’t dream up other shows.

Here are three she wishes she had created:

“Sister Wives” (TLC)

“I love it more than anything. I just want to get in there and interview those [women] and see what’s going on in their heads. Cause, for me, I’m like, ‘Seriously, how is this OK?’ I’ve never missed an episode. I’m insane about it.”

“Vanished With Beth Holloway” (Lifetime)

   “It’s the one with Natalee Holloway’s mother. I always grew up watching all the [‘America’s Most Wanted’ host] John Walsh stuff. I was so into it. And it was interesting because, yes, he was the host of the show, but also he was the whole reason behind it. I love to see [Beth Holloway] out there literally going through it and helping others in her situation.... I’m nerdy like that.”

Bad girls “Bad Girls Club” (Oxygen)

“I love me some ‘Bad Girls Club.’ Those girls have bad behavior and they don’t apologize for it. When doing a reality show, you’re always trying to find people with no rap sheet and no problem background and people who won’t cause problems — but that show is like the calling card for crazies.”


On the set with "Jersey Shore" season 2

Viacom likes the Situation with "Jersey Shore"

"Glee"'s Lea Michele, Chris Colfer and Cory Monteith won't be back?

— Yvonne Villarreal

Photo: Top: SallyAnn Salsano in January 2011. Credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images. Bottom: "Bad Girls Club." Credit: Oxygen.

Decoding 'Sarah Palin's Alaska': What have we learned?

Palin So we have come to the final two episodes of “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” not only for this season but forever. Now is a time for reflection on all of the totally apolitical life lessons we’ve learned from the rugged wilderness, experienced guides, and wise elders of the 49th state. Plus all-new footage that was too boring to run before!

1. There are only two ways to appreciate wild animals: Slicing them open and anthropomorphizing them to make vaguely defined political points.

In the penultimate episode, we watch Piper squeal excitedly over frolicking sea lions as Palin remarks, “I have a beautiful sealskin purse.” It's the circle of life, kiddo. Later, in the recap episode, we get to relive all of the caribou-hunting, halibut-bludgeoning, and salmon-dismembering good times of the season -- including never-before-seen footage. Hooray! Watch as Palin mounts caribou antlers, tours a den of taxidermy horrors and learns about curing fish heads.

But animals aren’t just for killing in “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” because the live ones also make handy, albeit strained, political metaphors. We’ve all heard about Palin’s beloved mama grizzlies seven or eight thousand times -- even when they were technically mama brown bears -- but did you know that adult muskoxen will position themselves around a baby at the first sign of danger, creating a protective circle? Palin proudly tells us that she recently used that image in a political speech about “how we should be as a society,” although she does not specify who the baby and adults are in the scenario. She just tromps toward the herd and declares, “I’ll be the mama muskox!”

2 . Technology is what’s really wrong with America.

After her scuba-diving brother retrieves some gold from the bottom of the sea, Palin takes Piper to have it turned into jewelry for Grandma Heath. Watching a man pour the recently melted metal into a mold, Palin explains that she expected the operation to be more high-tech, but no, like seemingly every other job in Sarah Palin’s Alaska, it’s the far more exciting “hands-on, blue collar work.” Later, Todd Palin is similarly psyched about the clicker a Department of Fish and Game official uses to count salmon by hand. How awesomely low-tech is that?

Husband and wife seem to agree: Alaskans don’t need no stinkin’ computers! That is, apart from the ones that transmit Palin’s FOX News commentaries. Those are actually really useful.

3. Sometimes kids do listen to their parents.

While panning for gold on a beach near Nome (and making a weak effort to discourage Piper’s fantasies of selling it on EBay for “something thousand” dollars), Palin asks their guide, “Does it come down to who works hardest or who’s luckiest?” “Both,” he tells her, as I boggle at hearing Palin acknowledge that luck might play even the tiniest role in an individual’s accumulation of wealth.

The moment is predictably fleeting, though. When asked what was the greatest life lesson she learned during the course of her mother’s reality show, 16-year-old Willow replies: “You have to work hard to get your money. And then the more money you have, the more things you can buy. Like a new car. I don’t know.”

The proud mama muskox laughs. “No, that’s a good answer.”

 -- Kate Harding

 Photo: Sarah Palin. Credit: Gilles Mingasson / TLC

Ted Haggard, minister caught in sex scandal, gets TLC program


If there's a place in this world for the controversial TV personality next door, it's TLC, home of Sarah Palin, the polygamist Sister Wives -- and now, Ted Haggard. According to Entertainment Weekly, the channel will soon premiere "Ted Haggard: Scandalous," a one-hour reality project starring the Christian evangelical minister who's been trying to rebuild his marriage and family since he was caught having an affair with a male prostitute. (If successful, the special has the potential to spin out into a series.)

"My family and I endured the darkest hours imaginable in the public spotlight, and have spent the last four years fighting and struggling to rebuild our lives, our faith and our family," said Haggard in a statement. "Showing the world the new chapter of our lives will hopefully inspire others to find their own path to overcome their struggles and embrace the power of acceptance. The church is open to all, even those who have committed the darkest sins."

This is not the first time Haggard has explored those sins on TV: He has been a guest on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and was the subject of HBO's documentary "The Trials of Ted Haggard." The latter program showed him attempting (and often failing) to get a new job outside the church. Now it appears he's stopped trying: The special shows Haggard launching his new ministry in Colorado Springs, Colo. — the same town he left after the scandal.

-- Melissa Maerz

Photo: Ted Haggard. Credit: Nora Feller / HBO

Decoding 'Sarah Palin's Alaska': Doing Potentially Deadly Rugged Alaskan Things

Palinbuzz In every episode of "Sarah Palin's Alaska," there's at least one moment in which someone goes on and on about the grave risk involved in whatever our heroine's going to do next, building viewer expectations so high you begin to wonder if she really survived filming the series, or if the final episode will reveal that the Sarah Palin seen in public over the last six months has actually been an android.

But then, inevitably, she does the Potentially Deadly Rugged Alaskan Thing in question and breaks neither sweat nor nail. At this point in the season, I'm beginning to feel a little ripped off; if she's never going to get mauled by a bear or crushed beneath heavy machinery, it's just not fair to keep teasing us. 

I kid, I kid! But seriously, last night's episode featured even more of those moments than usual, and offered a fascinating window into Palin's perception of danger.

Activity: Logging

Expectation of dangerous problems: High. Before Palin uses a chainsaw to cut into an enormous tree, we're warned that if she hits a knot, the blade could kick back into her face. Before said tree falls, we're warned that she could end up under it. Before she operates a shovel logger, we're warned that she could accidentally send the log flying right back through the window of the cab.

Why she conquered her fear and did it anyway: Because it's real Alaskan hard work, and if this show is about anything, it's about Sarah Palin showing her kids what it's like to put in an hour or so of hard work for the camera.

Actual dangerous problems encountered: 0. Zzzzzzzz.

Continue reading »

Decoding 'Sarah Palin's Alaska': Cuteness overload

Halfway through Sunday night’s episode of “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” I already suspected the producers were trying to erode viewer resistance by packing the maximum amount of cuteness into one hour. Finally, we got a satisfying dose of 2-year-old Trig grinning, giggling and dancing adorably, plus a glimpse of Bristol’s little towhead, Tripp; several amusing Piper interviews (“Mom is horrible as a waitress. I wouldn’t tip her because she spends too much time talking”); and an actual grizzled old prospector named “Bones,” who came complete with a bouncy companion spaniel.

And all that was before the puppies.

“They’re not playing fair!” I whined to my husband after watching. “There were Husky puppies! Two sets of Husky puppies!”

Husband: “Did she kill and eat them?”

Ah, yes, this is still Sarah Palin we’re talking about. And as always, she has some lessons for America.

Hard work and service are important. In small doses. For money.

Once again demonstrating her overpowering Alaskan work ethic by interrupting people’s actual work day to play “Let’s Make Believe I’m Not a Millionaire” for the cameras, Sarah dons a costumey waitress uniform and puts in a shift at a “legendary” local restaurant. Or, well, part of a shift. Actually, she says, “we had a few extra minutes.”

But, hey, who’s counting? What’s important is that in those few minutes, Piper “saw what hard work was all about and tolerance for other people and what it means, truly, to be of service for other people.”

Psst, Sarah? I’m with you on the “hard work” part, but “tolerance” and “being of service” in the sense you’re talking about mean respecting and helping your fellow human beings because it’s the right thing to do. Waiting tables means providing service because you get paid to do so, and being tolerant because you make less than minimum wage and need the tips. You actually just taught Piper about capitalism, not giving back to the community.

Climate change is awesome!

“Glaciers have carved the valleys in which we are right now,” says Sarah, as the camera offers us yet another breathtaking aerial view of frozen landscape. “So it was neat to show Piper what this chunk of ice looks like right now and explain to her that centuries from now it’s gonna look completely different.”

Here’s even better news for Piper: It could be decades, not centuries. You might just get to see that glacier disappear in your lifetime, kiddo. Won’t that be a hoot?

Gender essentialism is basically the same thing as feminism.

Palin has made it clear she considers herself a feminist, and, boy, can you ever see why in this episode.

After explaining that Trig is too little to join her for whitewater rafting, for instance, she says, “Luckily, Todd volunteered to play Mr. Mom.” Ha-ha-ha! The feminists I hang out with just call that  “being a father,” but for Palin, that would have meant forfeiting a golden opportunity to make a joke that was officially played out by 1983. (That’s why they call us bloggers “humorless,” I guess.)

Later, when her mushing instructor explains that females are the alpha dogs, she says, “That’s 'cause females are more intelligent.” Ha-ha, right on, sister! I mean, sure, joking about gender differences among dogs isn’t exactly like challenging sexism in the human population. And sure, female social justice activists have been fighting for decades to dispel the myth that they think they’re superior to men, so it’s kind of a bummer when a self-identified feminist puts forth that strawman, even in jest. But never mind all that -- how 'bout those stupid male dogs, LOL? Girl power!

Aw, maybe I shouldn’t be so harsh. Worn down by all the extra cuteness this week (there was a puppy on a giant hamster wheel, I am not even kidding!), I can almost feel a twinge of sympathy for Palin when she says, “It’s nice to get the heck away from idiots and bloggers who do not like our family. Yes, it’s good to be out here in the real Alaska.” But then I remember she brought a camera crew out there precisely so she could eventually share the whole experience with idiots and bloggers like me. And since she has such tremendous respect for working people, I know she’ll understand when I say, sorry, but I’m just doing my job.

-- Kate Harding

 Photo credit: TLC

Decoding 'Sarah Palin's Alaska': What we learned when Sarah met Kate + 8

21239_2107 There are certain ideas that sound brilliant to reality TV producers, and to no one else in the world. "Conveyor Belt of Love." "Fat March." The all-too-straightforwardly named "Hurl." And now we can add: Kate Gosselin and her eight children join the Palin family on a camping trip in bear country. What could possibly go wrong?

Actually, not much does. The kids have a blast until their cold, whiny mother insists that they leave, an outcome that could have been predicted by anyone who has ever been camping. Or seen people camping on TV. Nevertheless, the show, as always, has valuable lessons to teach us.

1. If you love your kids, you’ll shoot to kill.

The first half of the episode is devoted to lessons in bear safety, the procurement of an enormous new gun for Palin, and a lot of remarks like this one: “Bein’ out and about in Alaska’s wilds, it’s more common than not to see somebody having some kind of weapon on their person. In fact, it’s probably as commonplace as if you’re walkin’ down the street in New York City and you see somebody with a BlackBerry on their hip.”

At this point, I have some questions. Like, do people still carry phones on their hips, or was that some kind of bizarre product placement/dog whistle mash-up, in which “BlackBerry” also means “imaginary illegal handgun that certain paranoid rural voters are sure all New Yorkers carry”? And when you’re out and about in Alaska’s wilds, how often do you see other people at all? And wait, didn’t you all say this show wasn’t an eight-hour political ad?

Continue reading »

Decoding 'Sarah Palin's Alaska': Meet the real Mama Grizzly

Palin On Sunday night’s episode of “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” we learned that it’s all well and good to enjoy the beauty and power of wild animals from a distance, but it’s even better to kill 'em and chop 'em up.

Also, there's a triple dose (at least) of Palin's very favorite hinterlands-based life lesson: "You have to be prepared, you have to be so safe, you have to be careful. Because ... if something goes wrong, there’s no one out there to help."

No one is gonna help you, Part 1: Unless you’re the talent on a reality show

As with the mountain climbing and commercial fishing episodes, Palin comes across as game to try dangerous, painful and disgusting physical activities, but not terribly familiar with the “typical Alaskan” stuff she’s ostensibly been doing her whole life. In interviews, she waxes nostalgic about hunting with her dad, Chuck, from the time she was a little girl, but for someone with that much experience, she sure makes some rookie mistakes. On Day One, for instance, Palin, her father and their friend Steve Becker have to cross a stream; the men, both in tall rubber boots, cross efficiently and wordlessly while Palin, in ankle-high hikers, desperately holds up her pant legs and whines about the cold while prancing across the stream like a Lipizzaner stallion.

“I know that my feet are gonna be wrinkled and blistered by the end of the day,” she says in an interview, “but this is what has created within me a desire to be tough and to be self-sufficient and to be independent. A lot of it has to do with the upbringing that I’ve had in Alaska.” Back at camp --accessible only by a tiny bush plane, with not another soul around -- Palin is shown warming her feet by the fire, still wearing the wet boots because she presumably has no other option.

The next morning, however, she has on a pair of thigh-high rubber boots. It’s a tundra miracle!


Continue reading »

New clip: TLC's Sarah Palin fords the icy stream to hunt caribou and feed her family

Sarahpalinbook You're down to your last five packages of moose meat in your freezer in Alaska. What to do? Why, hunt caribou with dad, of course.

That's exactly what Sarah Palin does in the upcoming episode of TLC's "Sarah Palin's Alaska," a teaser clip of which the network released Thursday morning.

We're not sure if this qualifies as a spoiler, but it does seem that the caribou gets it in the end. The episode is titled "She's a Great Shot."

Sarah's dad plays the part of game tracker quite well, but the former governor herself looks a trifle unsteady fording a stream (it looks as if she's actually lifting her pant legs so the cold water doesn't splash her trousers) and crossing uneven terrain. And are we really supposed to believe there are no grocery stores in Wasilla, where she lives?

Anyway, to see the video, head over here

-- Scott Collins (Twitter: @scottcollinsLAT)

Photo: Sarah Palin signs copies of her new book. Credit: Charlie Niebergall /Associated Press


Complete Show Tracker coverage of 'Sarah Palin's Alaska'


Decoding 'Sarah Palin's Alaska': Spoiled by family love

Having watched three full episodes of “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” I am still amazed that Palin seems to interact with her family the exact same way she interacts with the American public: by continually saying anything that will appeal to her fan base, regardless of how frequently and spectacularly the facts contradict her interpretation of reality. Or, in the case of the most recent episode, how frequently and spectacularly her own children do.

1. This is America, and we speak English! No, seriously, we do.

As 9-year-old Piper assembles the ingredients for cake from a mix, Sarah becomes concerned about possible excessive egginess and tells her to recheck the instructions. After Piper confirms that she’s done everything correctly, her still dubious mother glances at the recipe and does a double take. “It’s in Spanish!” Well, no wonder her red-blooded, American, hardworking, tax-paying third-grader can’t figure out how many huevos to include! Except ...

Piper: No, it’s not. [Points at the box to distinguish it from the imaginary one Sarah just read.] “Three eggs.”

Sarah: Oh. You’re right.

2. What every teenage girl really wants is the gift of a loving family -- or a car.

Right from the beginning of the episode, Sarah repeatedly reminds us that Willow’s 16th birthday is on or about the Fourth of July, so there will be a grand, patriotic Palin party to honor the middle child in front of her extended family and Mom’s camera crew. Isn’t that thrilling? Won’t it make Willow feel special? “We don’t want the kids to be so materialistically spoiled,” Sarah says, “but we want them spoiled in terms of knowing what family love and camaraderie and teamwork is all about. So a party like this, with all the family together and celebrating her birthday, it means a lot to us.”

Well, all of us except Willow, who tells the camera, “I don’t like birthdays, personally. I don’t like attention on me.”

Continue reading »

'Sarah Palin's Alaska' sinks 40% in Week 2 ratings

Palin11.23 It's a flippin' big rollback, is what it is.

The second episode of "Sarah Palin's Alaska" on TLC premiered Sunday with 3 million total viewers, according to the Nielsen Co. That's still a hefty audience by basic-cable standards, but it's a long trek downhill from the record-setting pace of 5 million viewers for the series premiere the previous week. A 40% decline suggests that the early viewing was driven by the curious, who quickly checked out once they had crossed Episode 1 off their list. The series showcases the plain-spoken former Alaska governor and her family engaged in a full range of outdoorsy adventures.

Far worse for TLC: The audience that did come back was a little more gray around the temples than network executives like to see. The median age of the Palin viewer was 57, a full 15 years older than TLC's average. Whatever else Palin may be doing, she's not setting afire the hearts of younger viewers.

-- Scott Collins

Photo: Sarah Palin resigns as Alaska governor in 2009. Credit: Al Grillo / Associated Press




Decoding 'Sarah Palin's Alaska': 'Work ethic is like the biggest life lesson'

Palin2 It’s time once again to look at the messages Sarah Palin and company are sending with her ostensibly apolitical new reality show. In this week’s episode, we visited the shooting range where Sarah’s girlfriends held her first baby shower and “the halibut capital of the world,” learning some Real Alaskan Life Lessons along the way.

1. As long as you keep talking about working hard and getting dirty, most people won’t think too hard about what you actually do for a living.

Sarah and Bristol set out for “a mother-daughter day of commercial fishing” so the younger Palin can, in her mother’s words, “get back to some of that sweat-of-the-brow, blue collar, tough work that she is really used to doing.” Really? A few highlights from the “Career” section of Bristol Palin’s Wikipedia entry: Founder of “BSMP, a lobbying, public relations and political consulting services firm”; guest star on “The Secret Life of the American Teenager”; abstinence spokesperson for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy; and, oh yes, controversial finalist on “Dancing With the Stars.” To be fair, though, I have no data on how many long years of “blue collar, tough work” Bristol might have done prior to age 17.

Bristol, meanwhile, informs us that she enjoyed seeing her mother club, gut, ice and scale freshly caught halibut, because “work ethic is like the biggest life lesson, and it’ll outline your kids’ future.” Never mind that this episode involved interrupting numerous hardworking Alaskans’ productivity to film these two going through the motions of manual labor for a couple of days. Or that Sarah mentioned right at the beginning of the episode that she gets up early because “a lot of [her] professional work is on East Coast time” -- that is, the work she does from that TV studio in her back yard. Or that she compared having fish guts hosed off her to getting a spray tan. Just an ordinary Alaskan, y’all.

2. Safety first! Well, right after protecting profits.

Sarah explains why the first order of business when faced with an enormous, freshly caught halibut is to knock the sucker out with a billy club: “You have to stun it, otherwise it’s gonna flop around and bruise its own meat.” Meat that goes for five or six bucks a pound, people! Oh, and p.s., a flopping fish that size is “also dangerous enough where it could slap somebody around and really injure a person.”

3. Big families are a blessing. Without them, you’d have to pay people to watch your toddlers while you have adventures.

Sarah and Todd’s youngest, Trig, gets dropped off at Grandma and Grandpa’s before the Palin “family vacation” even begins, and Bristol’s wee Tripp is presumably in the capable hands of Aunt Willow while Mommy learns the proper techniques for firing a rifle and bludgeoning a halibut. Being a busy political celebrity or a teen mom is no sweat when you’ve got half a dozen handy relatives to stash the rugrats with! Why didn’t these liberals whining about longer parental leave and universal day care have the foresight to surround themselves with free babysitters?

4. The antidote to media overexposure is more media exposure.

Sarah: “The last couple of years have been pretty challenging for Bristol because so often, what it is that she does ends up in the tabloids, because of someone that she had been associated with.” Well, at least you have to give the former governor credit for recognizing that it must be tough to be her daught... Oh wait, I think she’s talking about Levi. “So Todd and I really wanted to get her away from all of that and to refocus on what truly matters in her life.” Such as performing on her mother’s reality show!

A strong work ethic is nice and all, but I think this week Bristol learned an even more important life lesson: Having cameras follow your every move can be a good thing, as long as someone who loves you has an executive producer credit.

-- Kate Harding

Photo: Sarah Palin sorts fish in Homer, Alaska. Credit: Gilles Mingasson/TLC.

'Sarah Palin's Alaska' breaks TLC record with 5 million viewers for premiere


Sarah Palin has once again refudiated her detractors. The critics may not have loved her new TLC reality show, but the former Alaska governor proved she is ratings gold.

"Sarah Palin's Alaska" was the most-watched series launch in TLC history, with an average of 5 million total viewers tuning in to Sunday's premiere, according to early data from the Nielsen Co. That's not that far away from the 5.2 million viewers for the Season 2 premiere of MTV's hit "Jersey Shore" earlier this year.

True, the Palin audience did seem to skew a bit on the old side. Only 1.6 million viewers -- less than one-third of the total -- were in the advertiser-friendly demographic of adults age 18 to 49. That suggests that Palin may still have some work to do in connecting with younger voters -- er, viewers.

But Palin's show - which featured the former governor and her family engaged in such outdoorsy pursuits as salmon fishing and rock climbing -- reached a fairly wide audience despite some harsh reviews, many of which suggested that the TLC show was merely a campaign ad in advance of Palin's presumed 2012 presidential bid. The Times' Mary McNamara wrote that "Sarah Palin's Alaska" "sets a new standard for political ads."

-- Scott Collins

Photo: Sarah Palin addressing a rally in September. Credit: Ed Reinke / Associated Press




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