Culture At Large

Reality TV for Christians?


In an effort to reach out to the Christian community as well as other so-called red-state viewers, NBC is launching a new show called "Three Wishes," starring Amy Grant:

In the series, the singer Amy Grant travels to a different town each week in an effort to fulfill the heart's desire of needy families and community groups.

For a network that dominated the prime-time ratings for a decade with sophisticated urban comedies like "Cheers," "Seinfeld," "Frasier" and "Friends," only to tumble to fourth place last season without them, Ms. Grant's show is a radical departure. "Three Wishes" is aimed, in no small part, at a churchgoing rural and suburban audience. And its marketing plan, evocative of a red-state presidential campaign, bears scant resemblance to any NBC has crafted before.

In advance of the new prime-time television season, NBC sent more than 7,000 DVD's of the show's first episode to ministers and other clergy members, along with a recorded message to their congregants from Ms. Grant. ("At its core, 'Three Wishes' is faith in action," she tells them.) The network has also booked Ms. Grant - a pop singer who vaulted to fame singing Christian songs, crossed over to mainstream radio and recently released an album of hymns titled "Rock of Ages" - for interviews on Christian radio and taken out advertising in small-town newspapers.


Though NBC hopes the show will have broad appeal - it also took its dollar bill campaign to New York and Los Angeles - Barbara Blangiardi, the network's vice president of marketing and special projects, said that "absolutely the Christian community was a target audience."

I don't know if it's my disdain for most reality shows, but the idea that a tv program can be "faith in action" strikes me as a little odd. But at least "Three Wishes" sounds more appealing than "Fear Factor" or "The Bachelorette."

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