This past Sunday (Feb. 21), Hallmark Channel debut its first unscripted reality series, Meet The Peetes, which follows the lives of ex-NFL star Rodney Peete, actress Holly Robinson Peete and their family. The series drew a respectable 705,000 viewers in its premiere as the network looks to attract a younger, diverse audience.
I recently spoke to Rodney Peete about Meet The Peetes, its place on the Hallmark Channel, and the importance of portraying positive, African-American marriages and families within the reality TV genre.
Why did you decide to take Meet The Peetes to Hallmark Channel?
We started the series two years ago on OWN, but after the network started [hesitating] about picking us up, Hallmark stepped in and said we want to do it. They were looking for diversity and wanted to do a reality series, which they hadn’t done before, so we said yes. They are a great network and a wonderful family to work with. They are really making a push toward diversity, which is really cool. It doesn’t feel like its forced – it feels like they’re trying to do it organically. The first time they take a dive into reality they chose a black family, so it says a lot about them. I’m pretty excited about that.
What will we viewers see in the new season?
The show continues to document our family. We’ve been married for 22 years with four kids, and have a son with autism. For me I’m usually a private guy, but when we go out and get the feedback from families that said you helped us so much –they say we were going through the same thing, or they like the way you talk to your daughter about the safety an dangers of being in college and away from home -- I know it resonated with people. That lets us know that we are doing the right thing. We wanted to have a positive show where people can see some of the realness of our lives – sometimes people see your name and think that you're so out of touch and this and that -- but when they see us on the show, they see that we’re just a regular black family and have regular issues like everybody else.
Following up on that, reality tv doesn’t portray a lot of African-American marriages in a positive light. How important is it for you to showcase your successful marriage in a series?
It’s super important. First, I had that growing up with my parents -- they’re still married today. I wanted to be a good role model for my kids, and as you said you don’t see that dynamic that often on TV and especially in reality TV. You often see Black folks flipping tables and somebody yelling at someone else – its a lot of negative stuff going on. So even though we have our issues we’ve stayed together and kept the family together and tackled real problems. There’s a way to do that all without going crazy and nuts.
Are you working on any other projects?
My wife has a couple of movies with Hallmark (Holly Robinson Peete stars in the March 17 Hallmark Movies & Mysteries original movie Morning Show Mysteries: Mortal Mishaps), and I do a local radio show with Fred Roggin on AM Radio LA Sports, so that keeps me in the middle of [sports].
R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.
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