Well here’s a couple things I didn’t see coming: Sarah Palin, primetime TV host…and a tacky little public relations feud between Fox News and LL Cool J, playing out via twitter.
Sarah Palin’s new TV series Real American Stories premiers tonight at 10 p.m. on the Fox News Channel, and as recently as Tuesday, the network was announcing that LL Cool J would be among the first guests on Palin’s hour-long debut. According to the show’s web site, the series will be “a place where people – from all walks of life – can share their personal stories, and talk about what makes this country great.” But as word of LL’s (James Todd Smith’s) impending appearance opposite the former governor of Alaska spread across the web, Smith quickly took to his Twitter page: “Fox lifted an old interview I gave in 2008 to someone else & are misrepresenting to the public in order to promote Sarah Palins Show. WOW.”
Subsequently, it was revealed that Palin’s show had been planning all along to use Smith’s two-year-old interview as an example of a great “Real American” story – until Smith caused such a fuss about it. Behold the wrath of Fox News: “Real American Stories features uplifting tales about overcoming adversity and we believe Mr. Smith’s interview fit that criteria,” a network spokesman told the Los Angeles Times. “However, as it appears that Mr. Smith does not want to be associated with a program that could serve as an inspiration to others, we are cutting his interview from the special and wish him the best with his fledgling acting career.”
Honestly, I’m not sure what to think of all this, other than the fact that Fox News is searching far and wide for any material they might possess that will help Palin’s program reach a wider audience. The network has made a big investment in turning a flawed political candidate into a punchy, peppy TV presence, and tonight’s debut marks the biggest test yet of how wide Palin’s appeal can reach when set outside the political arena.
So Fox doesn’t want Smith any more – and here’s betting that LL Cool J will be just fine without the love of Sarah Palin too. The bigger question might be: If this show proceeds to scrub out anyone who has an issue with the network, just how much of America will actually qualify to show up in this version of Real American Stories?