Men take their turn in "Fox Reality" program

I've never paid much attention to reality shows, let alone to the Fox Reality Channel, which I did not realize until attending the recent TV press tour has been a channel devoted solely to reality shows for the past four years. Like me, you may not know if your cable provider carries Fox Reality, and I just learned that in my area it is located on Channel 129. This is a problem when your old black-and-white set doesn't go higher than Channel 13.

But at the recent gathering of the nation's TV critics, David Lyle, president of Fox Reality Channel, reassured the assembled crowd that his programming is found on Hulu, Video on Demand and iTunes.

The new Fox Reality series that is generating some buzz is “Househusbands of Hollywood,” a concept that Lyle assured everyone was a “fascinating idea since the whole phenomena of househusbands back then was families that chose that the woman would go out to traditional work, and the husband would stay at home.”

Somebody evidently pitched this idea a couple of years ago, because Lyle noted that ” economic conditions have changed to such an extent that there are more househusbands now than ever before.” The unanswered question is whether this cable channel believes that today's increasingly dire economic straits and rising unemployment rates are creating a whole new market for reality TV viewing.

In any event, “Househusbands of Hollywood” might be the perfect antidote to the proliferation of “The Real Housewives” franchise, which seemingly has taken hold in disparate parts of our great land, from Orange County to New Jersey.

By mistake, I tuned in to an episode featuring the housewives in New Jersey, and decided within a minute that I wouldn't even stop for gas if I ever found myself traveling through the Garden State.

On the other hand, as part of my reporting duties, I did watch the premier episode of “Househusbands of Hollywood,” if only to figure out why any self-respecting guy who was not gold-digging his way to Easy Street would want to be filmed.

The cast of “Househusbands of Hollywood” is, at first glance, a whole lot more diversified and interesting than a bunch of unpleasant, spoiled New Jersey housewives seemingly consumed by trivial jealousies.

First up to bat is Billy Ashley, a former professional baseball player for the Los Angeles Dodgers until a career-ending injury sidelined him to housework. Now, he minds two young daughters and fields calls from women who want to buy products from his wife Lisa Ashley's skin care line. Every now and then, Billy admits to longing for the glory days of baseball and life on the road.

A minor celebrity in his own right is Daryl M. Bell, an actor once known for playing a role in the TV series “A Different World.” Today his longtime partner is Tempestt Bledsoe, who gained fame as part of the Huxtable clan on “The Cosby Show.” An unmarried couple, they don't have children, but that doesn't spare Bell doing everything from cooking to cleaning.

Grant Reynolds, a former Marine Corps sniper turned stay-at-home dad and aspiring actor, is married to a celebrity of sorts, Jillian Reynolds, co-host of “Good Day LA” and weatherwoman for “FOX NFL Sunday.” In short order, it is apparent that Jillian has a high maintenance lifestyle and publicly talks about her sex life. This couple may have a few sparks of discontent down the road, and Reynolds may run off on one of his vintage motorcycles he spends time restoring.

The most unconventional marriage results from the pact that was arranged by Danny and Katherine Barclay, college sweethearts at Duke University. Katherine is a high-powered attorney at a Hollywood firm, who is constantly emailing her husband “to-do” lists with almost excessive demands. Danny is an aspiring actor who was hoping for something better when he was starring in college theater productions.

But as newlyweds they agreed that she would bring home the bacon so he could focus on his acting career. Meanwhile, as a couple without kids, Danny and Katherine have their share of conflicts, which apparently revolve around her distaste for his enthusiasm of setting up a “man cave” in the garage, complete with a beer keg dispenser and folding chairs.

The most mysterious househusband of the bunch has a criminal background. During a press tour conference, Charlie Mattera would admit to being convicted for “a host of things” for which he served more than eight years. Like many in Hollywood, he is an aspiring actor as well as a screenwriter. He's married to a prominent psychologist, whose identity is not revealed in the program due to client confidentiality issues. Mattera's current life, which includes raising a newborn son, is a far cry from that of his troubled youth that led him to a life of crime.

The Brooklyn native's history is a fascinating story that the producers claim will unfold throughout the series. A taste of what is to come may be found in Mattera's assessment of the difficulty of rebuilding his life after serving time.

Speaking to TV critics, Mattera admitted to working hard to get his life back on track, and he figured after having a criminal background, ” the only place to go would be to Hollywood because there's (sic) so many criminals in film and in the entertainment business, and I figured I'd be right at home.”

From my very brief exposure to “The Real Housewives” franchise, I would say that “Househusbands of Hollywood” is on a completely different track, if for no other reason that the guys don't live privileged lives and do not succumb to cattiness. This leads me to wonder if a reality show that is not totally focused on a train wreck can succeed in today's jaded climate.

Tim Riley   & lt;/P>


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