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Oxygen Gets Real With Faith-Based Reality Series

The Oxygen network this Wednesday will debut its Christian-themed reality series Preachers Of L.A., which focuses on the lives of six men of God both in front of and behind the pulpit.

The first episode hasn’t aired yet, but the series has already drawn mixed reviews mostly based on The show's trailers, which some observers say portray the series' stars -- Bishop Noel Jones, Pastor Jay Haizlip, Pastor Wayne Chaney Jr., Bishop Ron Gibson, Bishop Clarence McClendon and Minister Deitrick Haddon -- as flashy preachers flaunting their wealth for the cameras.

In an effort to get the word out about Preachers Of L.A., Oxygen recently took the show’s producers and its star preachers on the road for press events in such cities as Atlanta, Los Angeles and New York to not only promote the show but to alleviate some concerns about what the show will represent.

Preachers Of L.A. executive producer Lemuel Plummer said he hears the criticisms, but said viewers should wait until they see a few episodes before passing judgment. “It’s not a typical reality show – this show is different and unique,” he said. “At the end of the day we show that [the pastors] are human beings, but we’re also showing ministry. I would just encourage everyone to watch the show and see for themselves instead of judging before it actually comes out. There’s a lot of ministry and inspirational moments, but it also shows the challenges that they face.”

Oxygen, home to such “live out loud” reality shows as Bad Girls Club, also believes that viewers – particularly its young female target audience – will get more out of the series than just passive  entertainment.

“The only thing that concerns me is pre-judgment, but I understand that as a society that’s what we do,” said Rod Aissa, senior vice president of original programming and development for Oxygen Media. “But I knew what we were making … once people see the show I believe that people will be able to decide for themselves. There’s nothing more relatable to our audience than faith – how we receive it, how we attain it and who we accept it through.”

Plummer, who also produces such reality series as WE Tv's Mary, Mary and BET's The Sheards, said the press tour helped convert a few of the show’s non-believers. “A lot of people were cautious and a little concerned about the show, but we showed some clips and had the pastors answer some of their concerns face to face, and I think it made a world of difference,” Plummer said. “They were able to see clips from the show and their perspective changed.”