NEW YORK:Whatever you may think of Sarah Palin, the fact remains Alaska is magnificent with her as its presenter.”Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” premiering on TLC on Nov. 14, adds “TV host” to Palin’s crowded resume, which already includes former governor, former GOP vice presidential candidate, best-selling author and conservative superstar.Palin also is a wife, a mother of five and a grandmother, of course, and her new series integrates her home life with Alaska’s great outdoors.Judging from the first of eight episodes, “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” keeps politics out of the picture. Sure, the show is effective in selling the Palin brand. But along the way, Palin throws herself into selling the grandeur of Alaska.The much-anticipated documentary series, shot last summer, is based at Palin’s lakeside home in Wasilla. There, cupcakes are baked and kids do their chores (or hear about it from Palin). Then Palin sets off, with family members in tow, on a jaunt such as salmon fishing on Big River Lake, where, almost within reach at the shoreline, a family of bears keeps them amused.
“Girls, when you cast, don’t aim toward the bear,” Palin cautions daughter Piper and niece McKinley in their boat.”Why?” is the automatic comeback. Any parent will instantly relate.
Later in the program, Palin demonstrates mettle (and alarm) as she goes rock-climbing with her husband, Todd, at Denali National Park — and gets stuck midway.The guide calls down instructions and encouragement, but Palin is stalled.”I just don’t like heights!” she declares. “I was so cocky — I’m being punished for it. I don’t know if I can do this!”It’s a remarkable admission from this famously can-do personality, and, as viewers are informed, some 45 minutes pass before she figures out how to continue her ascent. Then she does it.”That’s so much worse than I ever thought it would be!” she says after reaching the summit.
he series is produced by Mark Burnett, whose many credits include “Survivor” and “The Apprentice.” In a recent interview with The Associated Press, he marveled at how gung-ho all the Palins were in taking part.”It would start out with, ‘We’re gonna have Sarah and Todd do something,'” Burnett said. “And as she’s getting ready, she would say, ‘Piper, you want to come? Willow, you want to come?’ Take the politics away, and this is a family, and they hang out a lot together.”Befitting the travelogue quality of the show, it boasts eye-popping scenes across the state’s vastness (roughly twice the size of Texas).With all that acreage available, the Palins make it clear they’re irked that writer Joe McGinniss is living right next door.McGinniss, the best-selling author of books including “The Selling of the President” and “Fatal Vision,” is never mentioned by name, and his face is blurred as the camera catches a glimpse of him over the fence.
But Todd Palin explains, “Our summer fun has been kind of taken away from us because of a new neighbor next door who’s writing a hit piece on my wife.”(In an interview with the AP in September as he packed to leave after three months of research, McGinniss wouldn’t reveal what his book about Palin will say. But he said he chose her as a subject because, “I wanted a reason to come back to Alaska,” where he lived in the 1970s while researching an earlier book, “Going to Extremes.” He said he rented the house after its owner sought him out, not to spy on the Palin family.)Todd Palin is a regular presence on “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.” This includes the interlude when Sarah Palin heads for an adjoining building on their property they’ve equipped with a TV studio. She’s making an appearance on “The O’Reilly Factor.” Todd Palin supervises off-camera and punches the buttons.
“Every time before I go on the air,” Sarah Palin says, “I hear the technical guys in the booth back in New York going, ‘OK, Gov. Palin, you’re on with Bill. Good luck.’ And that always scares me. I think, ‘Why do I need luck before I talk to Bill O’Reilly?'”
Only snippets of what she says in her exchange with O’Reilly are heard on “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” while O’Reilly is unseen and unheard. Here, politics are on hold.Granted, earlier on the show, Palin seizes on one irresistible metaphor to make a political point. Referring to the fence built by “Todd and his buddies” to separate the Palin homestead from McGinniss’ gaze, she suggests it’s something “others can look at and say, ‘This is what we need to do to secure our nation’s border.'”That’s open to debate. But overall the show leaves no doubt: Alaska is well worth a visit. Presenting it to viewers, Palin is literally at home – Msn