Plenty of reality shows are still fouling the TV airwaves, but we think we’ve come up with one you’d actually want to watch. Call it, oh, “The Cutie, the Hottie and the Dynamic Duo.” Best of all? An all-Kansas City cast!
OK, so that show doesn’t actually exist, but the cast members do — they’ll just be on different channels. Here’s your TV guide to four local people who’ll soon be featured on big-network TV.The ‘New Normal’ cutie
It may not be true that any publicity is good publicity, but at least Bebe Wood’s NBC sitcom is getting attention — and it hasn’t even premiered yet.
In “The New Normal” (executive-produced by “Glee’s” Ryan Murphy), a gay male couple in L.A. want to have a child. They hire a surrogate, a 20-something woman who, with her young daughter, has fled a dreary existence in Ohio (yes, same state where “Glee” is set). The daughter, Shania (yes, like Twain), is played by Bebe, who hails from Fairway.
Salt Lake City’s NBC affiliate, owned by the Mormon church, has said it will not air the show, not because of the gay characters but because of “crude language, explicit content and offensive characterizations.” The network responded that the sitcom makes “a statement about the changing definition of the nuclear family.”
Anyway, here’s what we know about Bebe: She has appeared on NBC’s “30 Rock” and on HBO’s “Veep.” She has been home-schooled, according to her bio, designs and sews her own clothes, plays piano and loves to dance. And she claims several Kansas City theater credits.
Bebe took classes for more than five years at Theatre for Young America, says artistic director Valerie Mackey. She’s thrilled at what’s happening to her now.
“She wasn’t pretentious, she wasn’t a show-off. She just would quietly watch and prepare,” Mackey says.
Plus, she “always had new glasses and they were always cute.”
Her parents have always been supportive of Bebe’s interest in the theater, Mackey says. They’d take her to New York to see Broadway shows.
“It’s obvious when a kid has star quality that’s beyond just being really cute in class,” Mackey says.
In the pilot episode of “The New Normal” (already online atnbc.com), a bespectacled Bebe, as Shania, proves not only adorable but also, as with many TV and movie kids, wise beyond her years. Listening to a conversation between her mom (who had her at 15) and her homophobic great-grandma (Ellen Barkin), Shania says: “So if I actually plan
to have a baby someday, that’d be a family first?” Later she tells Barkin, “Nana, you are a bigot! I’m un-friending you right now.”
“Normal” is definitely funny, if the pilot is any indication. But some of the show’s language — especially what comes out of equal-opportunity-offender Barkin’s mouth —is
pretty coarse.The ‘Survivor’ hottie
With his blond, gelled fauxhawk and surfer-dude good looks, 24-year-old Carter Williams could be straight out of Cali. Which he kind of is. Though he grew up in Shawnee, Williams attended college in the land of Katy Perry.
And now he’s about to get down and dirty as he competes for a million clams on the 25th run of “Survivor,” this time set in the Philippines. The cast of 18 competitors includes an ex-TV star (“Facts of Life’s” Lisa Whelchel, aka Blair), an ex-baseball star (Jeff Kent, who played for the Los Angeles Dodgers), at least two ex- (but still smokin’) beauty queens and three returning “Survivor” players who left their seasons early due to medical issues. (Remember Mike Skupin, who fell into the fire in Australia and was airlifted out?)
A lot of the online buzz about Williams seems to center on his hair. “You’d have to talk to my hairstylist — my girlfriend,” he says in a CBS video. Said girlfriend, he adds, “pretty much has free range on my hair.”
We confirmed that with J.R. Kuchta, Williams’ boss at Solution 1 Fitness in Shawnee. Williams’ girlfriend — now fiancee — actually is a hairstylist, and the dude’s natural hair color is actually light brown, Kuchta says.
Williams is about to gain certification to coach CrossFit, a hard-core strength, conditioning and nutrition program.
Kuchta says Williams’ parents and siblings are all fitness buffs. His mom, Bianca, coaches cross-country at Maranatha Christian Academy in Shawnee, which Carter attended.
Williams is not just fit, he has “unbelievable endurance,” Kuchta says. To get on “Survivor” he submitted a video of himself running through woods, climbing trees and paddleboarding. Producers were obviously impressed.
“They basically compared him to Tarzan,” Kuchta says.
Personality-wise, Williams is “laid-back but outgoing, if that makes sense,” Kuchta says. “He’s very personable, can talk to anybody. He probably gets that from his dad.”
Price Williams, Carter’s dad (and vice president at Harvest Graphics in Lenexa), says, “Our whole family loves that show, you know. He always would tell my wife, ‘You’ve gotta be on ‘Survivor.’”
He graduated from Biola University, a Christian school in the L.A. area, where he majored in business and marketing. He has worked at Solution 1 Fitness since May, after “Survivor” finished filming. Last school year, he helped coach cross country at Blue Valley North High School.
Carter, by the way, did not know who either Whelchel or Kent were, his dad says.The ‘Talent’-ed dynamic duo
Maurice and Shanice Hayes don’t have to worry about outwitting anyone on “America’s Got Talent,” but they definitely have to outperform their competition to become survivors. (Can you tell we’re starting to get our shows mixed up?)
And Tuesday’s a big night: This is the second (and final) week of semifinal action, live from New Jersey. Both weeks, only three of 12 acts move on to the finals. That means, math majors, that the odds are against the father-daughter singing duo from Kansas City.
That’s why we all need to watch and vote. Tuseday night is the performance show; voting results will be revealed Thursday. The finals are next week, Sept. 12 and 13. At stake: a $1 million top prize.
Maurice, 62, has performed all over the world thanks to the U.S. Armed Forces School of Music; he did two combat tours in Vietnam. Shanice is 18, his youngest of seven, and a newly minted graduate of the Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts.
Singing is “something I love to do, it’s something he likes to do and it just makes it even better that we can do it together,” Shanice told The Star earlier this summer.
By the way, you don’t have to turn on the TV to catch the Hayeses. Many Friday and Saturday evenings, they perform on the Country Club Plaza, either on 47th Street outside Scooter’s Coffeehouse or in Penguin Court on Nichols Road.
A ‘MASTERCHEF’ FROM KANSAS?
She lives in Los Angeles these days, but Becky Reams, who hails from Stilwell in south Johnson County, is one of the last three standing on Gordon Ramsay’s “MasterChef” cooking competition. Part 1 of the season finale is at 8 p.m. Tuesday on Fox.
The show started the season with 18 “amateur cooks,” a field that last week was chopped from four to three after an intense test featuring three types of soufflés.
On Tuesday night’s show, the three semifinalists will create dishes that best embody their personalities and passion for food. Then they’ll prepare a dish featuring a pair of legs — chicken, lamb or frog. Just two contestants will remain after that.
Part 2 of the finale airs at 8 p.m. Monday, when the MasterChef will be named. The winner will also get a book deal and a $250,000 prize.
Reams, a food photographer and private chef, points to her mom as her cooking inspiration. “She taught me the importance of good, homemade food,” Reams says in her Fox bio.
The first dish she ever mastered? Chicken Parmesan — “probably not what you would expect from a Kansas girl, but it’s true.” She says she focuses on new American cuisine, with strong Korean influences.
The show that’s set in KC
The ABC Family drama “Switched at Birth” — about two high school girls who discover that, after a hospital screwup, they’re living each other’s lives — happens to be set in the Kansas City area. It’s filmed in L.A., however.
When the show premiered in June 2011, we were introduced to Bay, who lives with her parents and brother in a mansion (hmmm, Ward Parkway? Mission Hills?), and Daphne, who grew up with a single mom in a working-class neighborhood. Daphne has been deaf since contracting meningitis at an early age. In that first episode the two families moved in together.
Lea Thompson and D.W. Moffett play Bay’s parents. Other than the setting, we’re not aware of local connections, although Disney Channel veteran Lucas Grabeel, who plays Bay’s bro, is from Springfield.
The show’s “fall premiere” was Monday, to be followed by seven more episodes. The next season starts early next year. Catch it at 7 p.m. Mondays on ABC Family.