EXCLUSIVE: TLC, intent upon owning the girls-seeking-fame programming thread, will air a special/backdoor pilot on August 7 called Raising Fame. It’s from Authentic Entertainment LLC — the same production house that brought you TLC’s beauty-pageant babies series, Toddlers & Tiaras, and its spinoff, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo — as well as TLC’s upcoming competing kiddie cheerleaders series, Cheer Perfection. Raising Fame is about teen girls who’ve moved to Los Angeles with Mom, seeking fame.It continues the thread’s so-far successful casting formula: one of this, one of that. There’s the clueless 15-year-old redhead from Sunrise Beach, Mo, who, after eight TV pilot seasons with zero auditions, is still shacked up with Mom in a one-bedroom apartment at the Oakwood apartment complex in Hollywood, on the Boulevard of Broken Dreams – one of the stopping points for those double-decker tour buses that swing around town – or should be. Presley and mother Sandy, who have decorated their tiny apartment in Betsy-Johnson-on-acid – cupcake wrapping-paper wallpaper, etc — have plowed through about a dozen agents, none of whom understood her “brand.” They are now looking for a new agent, heading into the next pilot season. “I really haven’t done that role where it’s like acting and you have a script and you’re on a set,” Presley tells the camera.
D’Lainnie Brown, 18, moved to Hollywood from Dallas with mother Michelle to become the next Britney Spears – yes, that’s still considered “a dream.” Mom tries to run her Texas based real-estate business while minding D’Lainnie’s career, which has so far cost them years of rejection and about $200,000. “You know al the money that we poured into this career? We poor folk right now,” Mom tells D’Lainnie.
But now, they’re convinced D’Lainnie’s dream is on “the cusp of coming true.” If we had a buck… Anyway, D’Lainnie is seen in the pilot dramatically delivering The Michael Jackson Address: “My childhood was taken from me by this industry; you don’t know what’s fun because you never get to have it,” then turning her Sad Face slightly toward the camera.
Then there’s 17-year-old Alabama native Amber Diamond who came to Los Angeles with her family just one year ago. Mom, Shun, is determined to make the Diamonds the new Kardashians. “With your height, you’re a freakin’ size 0 and D boobs – Victoria Secret all day long!” Shun lovingly tells her daughter. Later, Shun and Amber exchange cross words in a vehicle: “That’s what I’m telling you sitting over there with that sniff-ass attitude — make me want to punch you in the face,” Shun advises Amber. Note to Amber: get it all on camera. Note to Fox TV Station Group: Your next daytime talk show test mom/host?
The little girls-seeking-fame is a franchise worth protecting. TLC cornered the market on the cute beauty-pageant babies way back in ’09 with “T&T.” Its spinoff, “Honey Boo Boo” has become a pop culture phenom – this week’s scratch-and-sniff season debut clocked an average of nearly 3 million viewers, beating the sunglassed smugsters at the ESPY Awards (they tied in 18-49 ratings).
But Lifetime network snuck in and carved out a corner of this empire, in ’11, with its Dance Moms series, about competitor kiddie dancers and their dreadful mothers. TLC’s fighting back, with a backdoor pilot for “Dance Kids ATL,” this coming Wednesday at 10 PM.