Sarah Palin’s Alaska

by Brian Bolduc

Last night, TLC hosted a bevy of bloggers at the Samsung Experience in New York for a sneak-peak at the channel’s upcoming mini-series, Sarah Palin’s Alaska. Produced by Mark Burnett, the eight-part series premieres on November 14 at 9 p.m. EST.

Over 200 outlets approached Palin with ideas for reality shows, but Burnett was the one who got her to sign. “His idea was for Palin to give a governor’s tour of Alaska,” says Brian Reich, the show’s digital media strategist. “It’s a travelogue of the state’s adventurous wilderness.” In one of the clips Reich showed the crowd, the Palins encounter two grizzly bears while boating down a river. As the Palins look on — dangerously close — the bears fight each other to protect their cubs — perhaps providing inspiration for Palin’s “Mama Grizzlies.”

Although the show’s focus is Alaska’s wilderness, politics inevitably enters. In the first episode, for instance, Palin and her husband, Todd, gossip about their new neighbor: Joe McGinniss, the writer who has moved in next door to research a book about the ex-governor. In addition, Reich says viewers will see Palin tape her appearances on Fox News at the studio on her property.

Still, the producers insist the show isn’t political. To prove it, they’ve created a blog, Not Taking Sides, to promote “non-political political conservations about Sarah Palin’s Alaska” — as Reich puts it. The bloggers at last night’s event had a hard time digesting this claim. Nonetheless, Reich hopes to have a Democrat and a Republican liveblog each episode to provide balance — and to steer the conversation away from partisan bickering. Matthew Gagnon, a former staffer for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, will edit the blog.

In fact, Not Taking Sides is one of four blogs, each of which will focus on a different aspect of the show. One of the more interesting sites, Fishhook Road, will answer viewers’ questions about Alaskan culture. “We’ll have recipes, fashion ideas, exercise clips,” says Danielle Johnsen, the blog’s editor. “We’ll show you how you can have your own Alaskan adventure — in your state park, for instance.” There also will be a podcast, Talk Back, reviewing each week’s episode and airing two clips each week.

That said, politics will be on many viewers’ minds when they watch the first episode a week from Sunday. It was on the bloggers’ minds when they chatted with Reich last night.

“Is Joe Miller in it?” one of them asked.