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The Changers: Really inspiring reality TV

Randall Murphree   - Guest Columnist
http://www.afajournal.org

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

You might ask, "Huh? Reality TV - inspiring?" It's hard to believe, given all of the salacious and downright trashy "reality" dished out by the networks and cable TV. But this one, the brain child of Dave Alan Johnson (Doc, Sue Thomas F.B.Eye), offers great promise.

The Changers (GMC Network)Enter GMC, the cable channel committed to decent family entertainment. GMC premieres the pilot episode of The Changers on Wednesday, October 17. For a story line that grabs all demographics, producers match Scott - an outdoorsman, surfer, Mt. Everest climber, risk-taker - with Jessica - a beautician, bride-to-be, stage 4 cancer patient - and Kurt - Jessica's fiancé, a welder.

 "If it's something from Dave Johnson, it's something we want to take a look at," said American Family Association president Tim Wildmon. "We have known Dave for decades as a man with family values like those we believe in."

The Changers is a one-hour reality show that's uplifting, heart-stirring and entertaining. The pilot will air again Sunday, October 21.

The premise of the story in each episode is to find someone like Scott, a California surfer, and challenge him to step out of his comfort zone in order to help someone in need. In this case, he is challenged by Changers co-hosts Beverly Adams, a Texas Christian philanthropist, and Michael Jr., a Christian comedian, to help Jessica plan her Santa Barbara beach wedding. The beach is the only thing Scott and Jessica had in common.

But don't worry, ladies; a traditional wedding planner is involved as well. The story line is fun from the moment Scott meets Alex, the lady hired to plan the wedding. When Scott says, "We're sort of like the behind-the-scenes wedding warriors," Alex quickly corrects him.

"No," she says, "no warriors for a wedding. You're more like the wedding fairy." Macho Scott doesn't take to that title too well. Nor does he enjoy being directed to go purchase the bride's garter. He tells the lingerie clerk he needs to pick out a "gardener." She translates, puts the purchase in a little pink bag and sends him on his way. Scott looks carefully down the sidewalk before exiting the shop, then wads the pink bag into a package small enough to hide in his pocket.

For the American Family Association (AFA), here's an important point: The thing about this scene that sets The Changers apart from secular reality shows is that cameras never focus on revealing lingerie or other products in the store. The entire scene keeps only Scott and the clerk in focus. The only scene AFA would caution viewers about is a scene with a little bit of immodest dress by one of the bride's friends.

 "We wanted to do a show that would be a new genre of reality television," said Adams. "Instead of the Hollywood train wreck, audiences are looking for uplifting, positive, entertaining shows."

As executive producers, Adams and Johnson are joined by Bryan Hickox, the mutual friend who brought the team together. A little serendipity occurs when series principals recognize Christian recording artist Jason Castro in their hotel lobby and ask him about singing for the wedding - that very afternoon! Thus Castro joins the list of those helping make Jessica's wedding dream come true. His music is featured in this pilot episode as well.

Are you recognizing all of the opportunities for humor? Scott is - almost literally - a fish out of water. How about opportunities for good-neighbor, behind-the-scenes stories? Learning of Jessica's health challenges, local businesses contributed many items for the wedding. For drama? Consider Jessica's life-threatening cancer.

Scott is cast as the changer, but he is changed, too, as he observes Jessica's faith and courage, and Kurt's unfailing love and commitment. This pilot sets the bar high, so here's hoping GMC finds a big audience in the initial airings October 17 and 21.


Randall Murphree, a regular contributor to OneNewsNow, is editor of AFA Journal, a regular publication of the American Family Association.

This column is printed with permission. Opinions expressed in 'Perspectives' columns published by OneNewsNow.com are the sole responsibility of the article's author(s), or of the person(s) or organization(s) quoted therein, and do not necessarily represent those of the staff or management of, or advertisers who support the American Family News Network, OneNewsNow.com, our parent organization or its other affiliates.

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