Have I mentioned the article that was written about me and this blog in The Anchorage Daily News last week? I’m kind of a big deal around here now. I can’t go anywhere without people asking for my autograph. It’s mostly cashiers at the liquor store and Target.
Neither here nor there, I’m still famous in my own mind.
Famous enough to get an email from one of the producers of a reality show being filmed here in Alaska. It’s caller Married To The Army and is supposed to document the lives or Army wives in Alaska. I had heard about the show a while ago and had even had a Skype interview with them. A couple of my close friends had done the same. We were excited about the opportunity to show people what being an Army wife was really like, the sisterhood that forms, and the strength it takes to get through tough times.
None of us made the cut. I didn’t even make it past the first round. I assumed I wasn’t pretty enough for TV, because it couldn’t have had anything to do with my personality.
That was several months ago. The producer emailed me the day the newspaper article came out and asked if we could meet. I hesitated because I had heard the show had taken a Real Housewives-type turn. As much as I love NeNe Leakes, I don’t want to be a part of anything like that. I polled my girlfriends in a mass text, (everyone loves those) they all said I should go. See what they have to say, maybe even set the record straight about Army wives.
So I did. The producer, Adriane was very nice. Almost too nice. She was very pretty, well-dressed, and slick. It made me a little uncomfortable. I’d just been interviewed by Julia O’Malley who was incredibly nice and smart, but also down to earth. I wanted to be her friend, with Adriane I knew we would never be friends. Weird.
She also hadn’t done her homework. Julia knew all about Twinisms. She’d read my stories, she knew which kid was which, had read about the trials with our stupid dog, she understood and appreciated my writing. Adriane had clearly not read one word. It wouldn’t have been hard nor taken much time to click over here and find out about me.
But she didn’t do that, she only knew what she had read in the paper. Maybe I’m vain, but I found that frustrating.
She asked a few standard questions about my life. She asked if I knew about the show and was shocked to learn I had done a Skype interview. She told me about the show. About how real they wanted it to be and about how she thought I could fit into the mix. I was honest with her about my misgivings. I’d heard rumors about staged story lines, wives being asked to change clothes for shoots, and about the potential for wives to look bad. She assured me this was not the case. This show was not scripted. She gave me a whole, “that’s not how I do reality shows” speech.
Then she went in for the kill. She asked if I would be willing to film the next day at our Brigade half-way home event. She said there were two wives, cast members, one who wanted to start a blog and one who was hosting her first coffee that she thought I could hook up with at the event. She said, “There’s going to be a dunk tank, maybe you could walk up to one of these wives while they are watching the guys get dunked and talk to them about your blog or about planning a coffee.”
Sure! That doesn’t sound staged at all. I always walk up to complete strangers and ask them about blogging or hosting coffees.
Since it would have been rude to text my girlfriends in that moment, I agreed to think about it. Adriane said there would be a release for me to sign the next day. I’m not quite that stupid, so I asked if it could be emailed to me that night.
Even though it seemed staged. Even though I wouldn’t be able to blog about it until after the show aired. I left the meeting thinking, maybe. Maybe it would be good for this blog. Maybe I would have the chance to show the real reality of being an Army wife. Maybe.
Then I read the release. It came in an email with a message that included this:
I wanted to pass along the appearance release that we have everyone who appears on camera sign. Its military approved and basically just states that you allow us to show your image on camera.
Sounds harmless enough, right? Here are a few excerpts from the actual release:
I further irrevocably agree that Producer may use and license others to use my name, voice, likeness and any biographical facts which may have been provided to Producer, in connection with the Programming, and for advertising, publicity, marketing, promotional and commercial tie-in purposes in connection with the Programming and/or any other works based upon the Programming, all allied, ancillary and subsidiary rights therein and thereto (including, without limitation, merchandising and commercial tie-in rights and use on DVD cover art), or any other use of the Programming, as well as in or in connection with promotional materials for Producer, its programming services, affiliates, assigns and sponsors, or otherwise and for the institutional purposes of the cable industry generally, in all media now known or hereafter devised or developed, in perpetuity, throughout the universe.
What? I’m authorizing them to use my image in any and all media now known or hereafter throughout the universe? That’s a little extreme isn’t it? What if I say something awesomely funny – it’s bound to happen – do they get to steal my joke? I think so.
There’s also this, which was in bold print:
I understand and agree that in and in connection with the Programming, I may reveal and/or relate, and other parties may reveal and/or relate, information about me of a personal, private, disparaging, embarrassing or intimate nature. I further understand that my appearance, depiction and/or portrayal in the Programming, and my actions and/or the actions of others displayed in the Programming, may be disparaging, embarrassing or of an otherwise unfavorable nature to me and may expose me to humiliation.
I mean…I humiliate myself plenty on this blog, but I’m not sure I want it edited and broadcast on TV. Unless I’m the editor.
So that all was pretty scary. My friends seemed non-committal. They didn’t want to interfere with my decision. It was a little annoying. What I really wanted was someone to jump up and down and say “Do it!” or “Don’t do it!” No luck.
In the end I decided not to do it. The release scared the poop out of me. I’m Jackson’s mom, it takes a lot to scare me. More importantly, I didn’t want to send you all the wrong message. To be on the show I would have had to try to be someone I’m not, do things I wouldn’t normally do. I don’t tell you everything, but what I do tell you I try to make as truthful as possible. In this case not all publicity is good publicity.
I did not attend the half-way event. John had a soccer game and I was tired. But I heard about it, boy did I hear about it. Camera’s everywhere, everyone was asked to sign waivers. The cast members dressed up and wore heels. To a picnic. That’s not the attire I would have chosen, I save my heels for the beach.