Thursday, January 15, 2009

TV Critics Getting Rough With "NASCAR Wives"

The Television Critics Association winter press tour is in full swing out in Los Angeles, CA. This year a NASCAR TV series is one of the new shows being presented as a high-profile entertainment property for 2009.

NASCAR Wives is a hybrid show that entertainment folks like to call a docusoap. That means that the people appearing in the program are real, but some of what viewers will see is staged for the cameras. The dreadful Real Housewives of Orange County is an example of this style of TV program.

This type of show was made famous by MTV series like The Real World and provides a unique but rather distorted look at a group of people who have something in common. Where the NASCAR Wives show is concerned, exactly what the actual participants have in common is not quite clear.

Needless to say, the reaction from some mainstream entertainment critics has not been very kind. Here is an excerpt from Jonathan Storm of the Philadelphia Inquirer:

TLC once stood for The Learning Channel. Now, it's just The Lousy Channel, as the network, desperate for viewers, has turned into a freak show.

President Eileen O'Neill cooed proudly about Jon and Kate Plus 8 (a family with twins and sextuplets); 17 Kids and Counting, in which Mom and Dad keep cranking out the kids (they're up to 18 now), and about dwarf-o-thon Little People, Big World.

Now the network proudly presents NASCAR Wives. "The drama on the track is nothing compared to the lives of these wives," O'Neill crowed, before she introduced three of the ladies.

One of them is Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s sister, Kelley, not his wife, but who's counting? "I've been a wife," she said, but now she's divorced, just like her daddy, who had three different wives.

TLC will probably get a show going on NASCAR divorcees any day now.

The gals spouted a lot of NASCAR propaganda while talking up the excitement of loving (and apparently getting sick of) guys who go round and round real fast.

"NASCAR has made significant strides in their safety initiatives," Kelley Earnhardt proclaimed, even if they did come a little too late for her dad, who was killed in a 2001 crash at Daytona.

"I know that my dad died a happy person because he was doing what he loved to do," she said. "So that makes me feel better."


Meanwhile, back in Mooresville, NC it has not gone without notice that camera crews are following around some local residents. Here is an update from Megan Pillow of Media General's News Service:

The Mooresville area and some of its race drivers’ wives will be featured later this month in a new cable TV series. The TLC channel will premiere a new reality series called “NASCAR Wives” on Jan. 24, following the Miss America Pageant, according to the Hollywood Reporter. A full season of the show is slated to appear sometime in the spring.

Area residents Lindy Hornaday, wife of race driver Ron Hornaday and owner of Mooresville’s Miss Estelle’s Place antique store; Kelley Earnhardt, sister of Dale Earnhardt Jr.; and Shana Mayfield, wife of Jeremy Mayfield, are all expected to appear.

Kim Saragoni, co-owner of Four Corners Framing and Gallery, said Thursday the TLC film crew was in town “with all of their booms and lights” for at least two days, following Hornaday as she volunteered to decorate Christmas trees in John Franklin Moore Memorial Garden and following Mayfield for a lunch at Soiree restaurant.

“They shadowed each of the wives for an entire day,“ said Saragoni.
The crew, said Saragoni, even stopped into Four Corners for some filming while they were in town.


Over at the popular Yahoo! Sports blog From The Marbles, Jay Busbee was already vowing to skip the first show and the entire series. His view is that this is the lowest form of TV and appeals to an entirely different kind of fan base:

Networks love this kind of “reality television” because costs are low compared with traditional series – and because viewers seem to have an insatiable appetite to watch other people engage in stunts along the lines of shopping, stammering, sighing and furiously abusing cell phones.

The NASCAR Media Group will be producing the series from the company's base in Charlotte, NC. NMG's chief Jay Abraham recently commented on the project:

"NASCAR is a family sport and a traveling road show, with a tight knit group of competitors barnstorming the U.S.," said Abraham. "Throughout a 10-month season, the drivers' wives are the glue holding together each racing family. They are strong and independent women with their own ambitions and goals who maintain their individual identities while supporting their highly visible husbands. NASCAR Wives provides an honest and emotional peek into their experience with our sport."

With all the different opinions on this type of "outside the box" NASCAR TV programming, it should be interesting to see if the general public, the hardcore racing fans and loyal TLC viewers will find this content interesting enough to make NASCAR Wives a hit.

What are your thoughts on this type of program and do you intend to watch the debut episode?

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Just click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page. Thanks again for taking the time to stop by.


57 comments:

kbaskins said...

What are your thoughts on this type of program

They make me want to hurl.

and do you intend to watch the debut episode?

Not even if I was trussed up like Alex in A Clockwork Orange. I'd will myself to die first.

Seriously, who is the market for this program? It must surely be the average reality-show viewer and not the NASCAR fan. I am soooooo not in this show's demographic.

--KarenB

diane said...

Allow me to repeat what I wrote last week, "What a load of crap. Another program of rich, entitled woman who have an existence due to who they married, or an accident of birth. No thanks"

I will not be watching.

Anonymous said...

Not interested. Nothing more to say.

Jay Busbee said...

Good post. While I indeed will be skipping it myself, I'll be asking several of my crew to review it. And you know what? I'll probably get sucked into it too. I'm weak that way.

darbar said...

I watched two episodes of that idiotic show Real Housewives Of Orange County and all I have to say is, if they are real housewives, then what the heck am I. Those pathetic women are the most obnoxious, rude, spoiled, backstabbing, over-sexed, afraid to age, and over-siliconed sorry excuses for humans that anything I can imagine. If Nascar wives are being compared to these vacuous women, I would be worried if I were them. First of all, Kelley Earnhardt is not a Nascar wife, but a Nascar sister. Angie Skinner is a Nascar wife, but Mike doesn't have a job in Nascar as of now. Shana Mayfield is a TV hound who would jump at a chance to be on ANY TV show. Did anyone notice that not one "top level" wife is on this program? Is it because they know it's a sham or is it because no one asked them? If it's the first choice, they will be shown to be the smart ones.

The Learning Channel should now be renamed the Loopy Channel with their totally silly "reality" programming. Jon and Kate are shown to be beyond belief, and not in a good way (Kate would fit in nicely in Orange County) and now we're going to see some silly Nascar wives doing stupid things that don't mean a darn thing to real Nascar fans.

Phathead said...

Not my type of show (actually my least favorite type of show), but as long as it doesn't diss the sport I say let them attract new people.

Anonymous said...

Like I said in the previous post about the show, I would be much more likely to have tuned in if there were new faces here or some substance like the suggestion of exploring their foundations or charitable activities. I'm not interested in seeing these same over-exposed women in yet another show. I still don't really understand the inclusion of Kelley as she is no longer even married to a crew chief anymore.

Vicky D said...

I think I'll skip it also, although I like Kelley & Shanna, not enough to watch this program.

PammH said...

I really miss shows like Nascar 360and the one that followed the Busch series drivers. They were fun! And I can't wait for this show to start!!

SonicAD said...

Interested? Not really. But I'll be watching anyway, since if it's NASCAR-related, I watch it.

Dot said...

I would rather hear stories on how the wives met their husbands, rather than watch them go shopping, etc.

Yes, I'll watch. I just hope it isn't too hokey.

Btw, I never heard about Kelley E getting divorced. JD, you need to do a gossip column on the side, lol.

Matt said...

I would watch if say Jeff Gordon's wife, or Matt Kenseth's or some the other wives not normally profiled were on, but I will not watch with Mrs. Harvick or Mrs. Mayfield profiled. They have been on every NASCAR reality show ever made and just overexposed in my view.

Gary said...

Ratings would go up if they did some stuff about Buffy, but kept it above the Jerry Springer level...

Anonymous said...

Jimmy and Jeffs wives? I would tivo It for sure!! Katie Kenseth too!!!

Sophia said...

well we saw Buffy on some half hour show about NASCAR wives on SPEED and she came off.....um...not well. LOVED to shop and taught her little girl to shop at the "BEST stores in NYC" or some such shallowness....it was kind of sad really...

I don't know if I will watch this show or not....will depend on my mood and if I tune in, how shallow the women seem to be...but gotta be honest, seen way too much Delana..and do NOT understand why Jeremy's wife is on...I do not enjoy watching the women shop, or watching them get their nails done, or pampered.

In this economy, it's going to be hard to stomach watching women shop for their "happiness" spending more money in a day than many make in weeks.

As far as Charity stuff goes...that can be very manufactured and it's own fake reality show....so, I don't know....as long as they don't start having fights with each other or make them come off having the I.Q. of a house plant, could might be possibly ok.

Some of those 1/2 shows on SPEED channel following the wives left me speechless but i want to stick with the column JD posted...tempting as I am to digress

:)

glenc1 said...

So interesting that people are so willing to trash a show they've *never* seen. I personally will probably not watch. But I won't judge something I haven't seen based on what I *think* it might be.

Dot said...

For added excitement and enticement, they could call it Past Present & Future NASCAR Wives. Jeremy Mayfield traded in his first wife for Shanna. Mikey and Buffy are separated last I heard.

Does this type of show have to be okayed by NASCAR?

Anonymous said...

I cannot imagine why the network thought they could get good ratings with a bunch from a D-list. Why call this a "wives" show, when all but one is either divorced or out of work.

Pleeeeeeze.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Enquiring minds know that it is the National Enquirer and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the concept of the show is silly or offensive. It will depend on the execution to decide if it's worth watching or not. The inclusion of Shana, Delana, and Kelley makes me wary, but I will watch the first couple of episodes and decide.

I'm a little surprised at all the hostility about it (from the media and from some posters here). I remember "NASCAR Drivers 360" as a VERY popular show among NASCAR fans. Marty Smith and the guys on Track Smack would often discuss their observations on the latest episode in their nascar.com column on Thursdays.

And yes, it showed drivers and wives shopping, lounging in their huge mansions, motorhomes, and boats, going out to eat at expensive restaurants, etc. in addition to actual race footage. (People have short memories!) No one seemed offended back then because the drivers/wives featured didn't seem particularly snobby about their wealth and they were as likely to eat at an Applebee's/Hooter's as they were at an expensive place.

"NASCAR Drivers 360" was also a show that got excellent TV ratings and brought some new viewers to NASCAR. I know a couple of 'em and they are still fans today.

However, that show (and "NASCAR Drivers Non-Stop") had a formula of 30 minutes of home/family life, then 30 minutes of race track life, focusing on one race per episode. From what I have read so far, the NASCAR Media Group says actual race footage on "NASCAR Wives" will be minimized. That would be a mistake, because then they're going to get reality show fans who only tune in to see the shopping and drama of a typical reality show, It's not likely they will follow up by being curious about watching a race after following the series.

With "NASCAR Drivers 360", the people's (drivers/wives) personalities drew viewers in at the beginning of the show, AND they got hooked on the excellent and exciting racing footage, too. Because of that, they wanted to watch an entire race.

Then again, the executive producer of "NASCAR Drivers 360" was a former executive producer of the TV shows "24", "Sports Night", and "Felicity". No offense to the NASCAR Media Group, but it's doubtful they'll get someone like that to exec-produce their productions now. So we may not ever get another NASCAR show of that quality. But I'm willing to give "NASCAR Wives" a chance.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

One more thing: I have all the "NASCAR Drivers 360" episodes on tape.

In one episode, Mark Martin is seen writing a $100,000 (yep, $100,000) check for a deposit on a new plane. I don't remember hearing a single bit of uproar about that "shopping spree". But I guess if his wife had written that check on this new show, there would be heck to pay, right?

(They show Mark later shopping for CDs with his son at a plain old Best Buy.)

bevo said...

No.

I can't stand these shows, if they put the wives in tow trucks Speed probably would have picked it up. It's all fake so why watch it?

I can't imagine why NASCAR would set itself up for the ridicule this show will bring.

Anonymous said...

Mr Daly

One of your poster notes that TLC "used to stand for The Learning Channel" That poster might be interested to learn that A&E stood for Arts and Entertainment-but its now all Law and Order all the time. Heck, ESPN stood for Entertainment and Sports Network....
TLC audience is primarily women. Thats who they target. NASCAR WIVES is not targeted at core race fans. However, the newspaper writer you cite from Piladelphia shows a total lack of knowlege about current television network trends when he complains about the shows on TLC. The programs he takes such exception to are each very successful in ratings data.
This one is easy. Its an attempt to exploit the Nascar name and NASCAR MEDIA never saw a dollar it didnt like.
I saw the TCA press conference and the exec from Nascar media actually stated-for the record-that the median nascar fan household income was north of $70,000. He kept a straight face, too

racingwench said...

Will not be watching it here. New fans from this? I think NASCRAP is making another mistake. The fans that this will attract will be gone with the next version of ParisOlsenIdol.
As far as the personalities Shana Mayfield? is this a way to get her husband back into the series?

Deborah said...

I may watch the first episode so I can give an opinion on the show based on having actually seen it but this is definitely not my kind of show and I would much rather time, money and resources be put into shows about the racing rather than the personal lives of the drivers and their wives/sisters. This is all about portraying a carefully crafted image about the sport that doesn't necessarily truly depict reality.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 11:44AM - Thank you!

ri88girl said...

For me the biggest problem is Kelly Earnhardt. I do not understand why she is one of the 'wives' if she is devoriced from Jimmy Ellidge. It is creepy to have her there if it's supposed to be connected to Jr.

Aside from that, I agree with posters that found it inapropropriat in this economic environment. I really have never found these shows appealing, but might have watched it if not for the whole Kelly thing.

Anonymous said...

People on this site are so negative. On one hand you complain about the lack of NASCAR programming and the lack of respect networks give NASCAR. Then when there's a high profile NASCAR program created and getting a lot of press, you talk negatively about it a month ahead of time before it's even viewed. It's a wonder anyone tries to put anything NASCAR-related on TV at all. They probably won't even try after this. That will give you something else to complain about, eh?

majorshouse said...

I think I will watch the show first before I comment or trash it and I think that we wouild all be better served doing that. We have b itched and moaned because of no NASCAR programming and now we are trashing a show before it ever airs, go figure.

Anonymous said...

I think TLC does a good job with many of their shows like this...Jon and Kate, the one with the little people, and the one with the Duggars. They're well edited shows that take a life that may be a little out of the ordinary and make for a very interesting show.
And these shows, at least the ones I mention, are respectful of their subjects.
I could do without the Mayfields....but I will give it a chance.

Gymmie said...

I have it on the DVR but will be in queue. Next Saturday will be busy..busy...busy...with 24 hours & the Toyota Showdown

It would be nice if Ms. Lindy is apart of it, we don't get to hear from her much :) and she'd definitely be a new face :).

@Dot--you just need to know where to hang out..

Geeze said...

I will probably watch it if I remember to. I'm also one who chooses not to review something before I've even seen it.

darbar said...

Anonymous 9:55. Nascar Wives is NOT the kind of Nascar show that true followers of the sport want to see. Nascar Wives doesn't even come close to being anything near to what the sport is all about. A smart and astute production person could very easily come up with a program, or programs, that could be interesting, informative and be about the sport itself, and not a reality show about wives, or sisters, who aren't really in the inner circle of racing (despite having the last name of Earnhardt). I would rather see a weekly show on what's going on in the off season for all the race teams. How about a regular news show that address everything that goes on before Daytona? With the constant changes happening right now in the sport, a daily program on that would be welcome. Just look at what's happened in the past few days---Labonte moving to the 96 car after being mentioned to be in line for the number 8 of Earnhardt/Ganassi, all the crew chief changes, how teams are handling the no testing rule, Yates and HOF Racing agreeing to an alignment, Earnhardt-Childress Racing Technologies eliminating their engine shop jobs if Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing doesn't field four full time Cup teams and how about the rumor of teams shipping cars overseas to test? Heck, I'd even watch segments on any drivers who are racing in other kinds of venues in the off season (Dakar Rally and Robbie Gordon). But to put on a show on wives, girlfriends and extended family members doing mundane things isn't at all racing related nor is it interesting. And as for the spending habits of any of them, be it the driver's themselves or their wives, again, I couldn't care less. We all know they make big bucks and spend on things we find silly and over the top, and again, that aspect of their lives holds no interest to me. Big deal that Mark Martin can buy a plane or that Dale Jr has a bar in Charlotte or Greg Biffle has decided not to fly his helicopter to the Speed studios because of the bad economy. We know they are millionaires and make more in once race than most of us make in a year and we don't need to have that accentuated any more than it already is. Give us racing shows, plain and simple and leave the fluff off the screens.

Sophia said...

I totally enjoyed NASCAR 360 as it 'seemed' to be unscripted and show the drivers family behind the scenes as things happened.

NOW everything has more direction to set up situations.

As far as Mark spending 100,000 for a jet, that was for his transportation...not just shopping for 'clothes and jewelry' and teaching a little girl 'the values ?? of such things'. That's all I meant by my previous comments.

And those who are judging us for comments never watched that half hour show on SPEED(I can NOT remember the name of it, but it feature anybody in NASCAR from journalist/writers to a NASCAR wife)

I don't mind seeing people shop at all it's when I get the impression they are too materialistic... what they live for. Not naming names.... I'm just sayin' :) But if you saw that show on SPEED, clearly you WOULD understand......sigh

I "hope" this show puts people in a favorable light..and I hope it's a good spin on Mike Skinner's wife...the truck series could use some legit air time, no matter how weak the connection.

Anonymous said...

Sophia, the show you are talking about was called 7 Days. I understand where you are coming from based on the Buffy Waltrip episode, but I think she was an exception. The other wives on 7 Days(whether they were featured alone or on their husband's episode) didn't seem to come off as self-centered and clothes/jewelry/New York City obsessed as Buffy IMO. Shana was shopping for groceries at the SuperTarget LOL.

Darbar said...
Nascar Wives is NOT the kind of Nascar show that true followers of the sport want to see. Nascar Wives doesn't even come close to being anything near to what the sport is all about.

But...you haven't seen it yet, so how would you know this to be a true statement?

I would rather see a weekly show on what's going on in the off season for all the race teams. How about a regular news show that address everything that goes on before Daytona? With the constant changes happening right now in the sport, a daily program on that would be welcome.

Those shows, both daily (NASCAR Now) and weekly (SPEED Report, This Week in NASCAR) already exist and are already fully staffed. Their networks simply choose not to air them in the offseason. Bad decision, true, but why should those networks' bad decisions stop other types of NASCAR programming on other networks from being developed and aired?

Tom said...

NO.....Garbage

Tom
Inverness, FL

bevo said...

Judging by some of the comments it looks like TLC found out about your blog JD :)

Ziggy said...

As to watching... count me out.
I do not enjoy watching anything that is even remotely contrived.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Bevo,

I just get the discussion started and get out of the way. Good opinions on both sides in this one.

JD

Newracefan said...

I would like to see some different wives, I'm guessing they said no thanks. I'll be watching it anyway.

Lesley said...

I think It would be very intresting to listen to and see a day in the life of Buffy the Walthrip slayer...(Image is everything Nascar) should be very careful about a program like this!!Buffy on Barbara Walters! (Yikes)

Dot said...

@ Lesley, Your Buffy comment cracked me up. Please join the TDP Comedy Tour when racing starts back up.

Anonymous said...

If this show airs at the same as one of my favorite shows that I watch faithfully, I may tune in during commercials. Other than this, I probably won't watch it at all.

Lesley said...

Sounds great Dot! Thanks

Anonymous said...

Then when there's a high profile NASCAR program created and getting a lot of press, you talk negatively about it a month ahead of time before it's even viewed.
We ask for shows about racing, not the wives of the drivers.

Is it that hard for programmers to see the difference?

If you like MLB, do you want to see a show abnout the players' wives? No, you want to see a show about baseball.

Garry said...

The interesting thing here is that many top NASCAR executives, as well as drivers read this blog. It makes me wonder why on Earth would these women, and their husbands for that matter, willingly participate in such a low-brow show. I cringe at what little Miss homemaker in New York City thinks as Kelly Earnhardt talks about herself? Keep perpetuating the sterotypes, Kelly and Shana.
I thought reality t.v is about ten years gone now. Who watches this drivel?

GinaV24 said...

I have no interest at all in this type of programming. Bring back Beyond the Wheel and some of the other racing programming and I'll have some interest, but I don't watch this type of show on any network, so I don't plan on tuning in just because it has NASCAR in the title. What a load of rubbish.

The Track Girl said...

@Anon 7:53 AM You forgot that Speed used to be about racing..not just auto auctions.
There is no way that I would watch this. Its too bad that the powers that be don't put some time into producing shows about racing.
Wouldn't that be a nice change. If they really can't stomach racing as programing, instead of "NASCAR wives" (I agree with the rather loose definition they got going there)what about checking in at local tracks. How about taking a look at the tracks where driver's started and seeing who the next star might be.
What about looking at the process that goes into making a race car? Shop tours, the engine builders, the life of the pit crew.
Anything, you know, about racing.

Adam T. Martin said...

My thoughts on this program are, wow, this is garbage.

No, I do not intend to watch this because the sport is already in hard times and this is not putting it in a positive light.

I'm going to leave it at that.

Anonymous said...

This should NOT be called NASCAR wives. Kelly is not a wife! Was disappointed to read that Jeremy Mayfield left his first wife for Shanna--that is a no, no. I will no longer root for him. Mike Skinner's wife is a great idea to show something about the truck series. Wish they would let us pick and vote who should be on. And as far as the NA$CAR wive$ $pending money? They are just like everyone else--hoping the husbands keep their jobs because people like me can't afford to attend any more races in this economy.

NorCalFan said...

If the show featured the wives of, say, Ryan Newman, Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Greg Biffle or even Kurt Busch I would definitely be watching. They are today's NASCAR wives and because those women have managed to keep their private lives with their husbands as private as possible is what would make such a line-up appealing to watch. But maintaining their privacy is also the reason I think they would not participate in a show like this one.

I'm not excited about the casting of the featured "wives" but I will probably watch the first show just out of curiosity.

Ann_Ominous said...

I liked NASCAR Drivers:360, so yes, I am going to tune in and give this show a chance. Delana is presented as being very active in the day to day running of KHI, so if the show shows that, it will be interesting. Same with Kelley and JR Motorsports, though that team is so hurting for sponsorship there might not be much for her to do. Her inclusion really does come across as pandering to Jr Nation to get them to watch.

Anonymous said...
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glenc1 said...

I was one of the ones commenting on those who criticized on what they haven't seen. And yes, I DID see 7 Days. As others pointed out, some were better than others. I also watched NASCAR 360 (which had its good/bad moments), NBS 24/7, etc. I might have questions about who was included, but like many others, I'm guessing it was the ones who said yes. As for why--if you thought it would get a sponsor to pay attention to your spouse, you might consider it too (not saying I agree, mind you, just that I understand.) I have also seen 'Little People, Big World' and again, some is real and some is staged. It can still be pretty interesting. I don't watch much reality stuff for the reasons many have stated, but the truth is, it gets good ratings or it wouldn't be on (and some of the less interesting were gone quickly.) Still has to have some kind of spark.

Anonymous said...

I loved the Nascar 360 as well as 7 Days! I will watch anything that is related to Nascar. I do, however wish it had more selections of 'wifes' though, especially now that Elliott Sadler just got married yesterday.