TLC provides an idea of what Sarah Palin's Alaska series might look like:
The network is making maybe its strongest play yet for the non-elite, middle-class audience, with a new show starring the queen of Red State America, Sarah Palin.
The combative former Alaska governor is teaming with reality super-producer Mark Burnett to start production next month on a one-hour, eight-episode series in which Palin "will show, first-hand, what it means to be Alaskan," according to an internal summary developed by the channel's ad department. "Each one-hour episode will feature taking on a different job, a new adventure.
"She may be hauling nets with her husband, Todd, on his commercial salmon fishing boat on Bristol Bay, roughing it in a logging camp or spotting grizzly bears while camping on Kodiak Island," the summary continued. (Neither Palin nor Burnett was available to elaborate.)
Whether the show will connect with its target audience is anyone's guess; Palin is already a contributor and show host for Fox News, another network self-consciously aimed at non-elites. But it's the strongest proof yet that TLC, a unit of Discovery Communications, which also operates Discovery, Animal Planet and other networks, is determined to become the antidote to Bravo, a rival cable network that has perfected the fine art of chasing upscale viewers with wry, trendy, often-sensational fare....
The environmental group Friends of the Earth attacked Discovery, which has aired many nature programs on its other outlets, for ordering the show: "Palin supported the barbaric practice of aerial wolf hunting for sport. She also denies outright that humans are contributing to climate chaos," an official of the group said.
[FYI - it is not wolf-HUNTING. At least get your criticisms straight. It's control, and it's not something they do every day. It's a last resort.]
"They're pretty fearless women who pick paths in their lives and follow them," O'Neill said of Gosselin and Palin. "Not everyone agrees with all their choices or even some of their remarks, but we think both of them make a lot of sense for TLC as strong, compelling characters...."
Earlier this month, an episode of "Kate Plus 8" devoted to her sextuplets' sixth birthday drew 3.4 million total viewers.
Depending on how it's made, the Palin show could end up being an even bigger definer of TLC's image than the Gosselins have been. O'Neill promised that the ex-governer has been intimately involved with the show's development, even though "there won't be her opinions in the show, politically or otherwise."
"There's nothing on TV, honestly, that we can say this is like," she added. "People have asked, 'Is it a nature documentary? Is it a travelogue? Is it a docusoap? Is it a reality show?' It's going to have pieces of a lot of things people are familiar with, but there's no one label."