The Palins are approaching the Kardashians in the sheer number and variety of reality shows they take part in. But even with Todd Palin onboard as part of the surreal casting of the upcoming “Stars Earn Stripes,” nobody expected his famous wife to join him at the NBC cocktail party that followed a press conference Tuesday.
But there, alongside the pool at the Beverly Hilton, was her familiar figure, now burnished and super-tan in the manner of Hollywood brunettes, wearing 5-inch heels she told somebody later she bought on consignment.
Her wraparound sunglasses at dusk at an event otherwise boasting Matthew Perry, NeNe Leakes and the monkey from “Animal Practice” may have been the giveaway that this was someone who was trying to shy away from the limelight. Instead of a vice president, governor, candidate or even soccer mom, Sarah Palin looked instead like an anonymous trophy wife of a reality star, here amid the kind of Hollywood crowd she once publicly disdained.
A handful of reporters had crowded around Todd Palin to get his well-rehearsed take on the show (in which celebrities go through military operations alongside Special Operations forces, for entertainment and charity). It's produced by Dick Wolf and Mark Burnett, who also produced “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.”
Todd was telling me how the show had changed his life -- “To be able to hang out with military operatives that were on the show, the best of the best, to listen to their life stories and their military background ...” -- when I noticed nobody was talking to Sarah Palin.
“I’m just continuing my contribution to Fox," she said with a smile, when asked if she had any upcoming TV projects, in her familiar singsongy voice.
Would she do another reality show?
She was more expansive when I asked about her reaction to “Bristol Palin: Life’s a Tripp,” the latest reality show on Lifetime for her daughter, a former cast member of “Dancing With the Stars.” The show generated controversy this last week when 3-year-old Tripp apparently told his mom to "Go away, faggot." (Bristol later said he was using a different F-word, but you can be the judge here.)
“It’s been great and I love the show,” she said. “I think it’s clever, it’s absolutely real and I’m proud of the girls.”
Having been in the public eye, she knew what her daughter would be up against in the show, which Lifetime bumped from prime time after two weeks due to low ratings.
“I know that no matter what, Bristol or Willow or Track or Piper and someday Trig, no matter what they do they’re going to be criticized,” Sarah Palin said. “But it’s like Bristol said all along: ‘The critics are going to criticize, the haters are going to hate, so you might as well dance.' That’s why she did ‘Dancing With the Stars’ and that’s why she’s doing what she’s doing today.
“And her show today I think is very positive, it's very realistic in terms of showing what single motherhood really is,” Palin said. “It’s not like the ‘Teen Mom’ -- partyin’, woo-hoo! – fun, glamorizing single motherhood.
“She’s showing that it’s a lot of work and it’s not an ideal situation and you make the most of the circumstances that you’re in,” she said. “But it’s not something to glamorize or to sort of encourage young girls to emulate.”
Palin said she admired the work her husband went through on “Stars Earn Stripes,” by most counts the fourth reality show the Palins have been a part of.
“Todd’s on fire. He’s a commercial fisherman, a world-champion snow machine racer, he’s got all this physicality that requires a lot of mental toughness too that you guys will be surprised to see manifested.”
Would Palin consider competing herself on a second season of “Stars Earn Stripes”?
“Oh my gosh. I would have to be doing a whole lot of push-ups,” Palin says. “I don’t think physically I would be able to handle what it is that they’ve gone through.
“It will blow you away when you see what they do,” Palin says. “I’ve seen some clips of it and just as a witness to the bumps and bruises at the end of the day, it amazes me. But like Todd said, our son is over in Afghanistan. He and every other member of the military who goes through this in real life and for the real cause — what they go through is nothing compared to he real thing.”
Before she was whisked away to get something to eat, she was asked about the healthcare ruling. Just kidding; she was asked whether she’d ever join “Dancing With the Stars.”
“I am not coordinated like those who end up doing that show,” she said. “Wasn’t a cheerleader, wasn’t a dancer.”