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DATE News (chronologically)
06/08/10
tv news
NASCAR TV show fails
NASCAR’s attempt to ride the wave of “docu-soap” dramas hit a glitch when “NASCAR Wives” never made it to the air and the project was eventually canceled.

TLC had ordered at least eight half-hour episodes of “NASCAR Wives” last year, including a one-hour launch show in 2009, with production handled by NASCAR Media Group. But the project was dropped because the shows weren’t controversial enough.

“The network wanted situations created that were not true to how these women normally act. They wanted conflict, and we just weren’t willing to go down that road,” said Jay Abraham, NASCAR Media Group’s COO.

The project cost NASCAR Media Group close to $200,000 in production costs, according to industry sources. Abraham wouldn’t confirm specific figures, but said his group had invested production expenses into filming and editing the first 60-minute episode.

Multiple messages left for TLC officials were not returned. TLC is a Discovery Communications channel.

Robert Thompson, a professor of television and pop culture at Syracuse University, said the genre of “Wives” shows are built on the drama between the cast of characters. If the show wasn’t interesting enough, it more than likely was a reflection of the women featured in the show, Thompson said.

The subjects of “NASCAR Wives” were DeLana Harvick, wife of Kevin Harvick; Kelley Earnhardt, sister of Dale Earnhardt Jr.; Angie Skinner, wife of Mike Skinner; and Shana Mayfield, wife of Jeremy Mayfield, the driver who later sued NASCAR in a dispute over a failed drug test.

“What makes these shows work is compelling characters,” Thompson said. “Compelling often manifests itself in high drama and high conflict. The fact that intriguing people end up on these reality shows is not by accident.

“When they’re casting these shows, they’re looking for someone to do things without a script that’s interesting to watch. It’s a lot harder to make a hit when it’s about women who don’t have hissy fits.” Scene Daily

In addition to eating those production costs, NASCAR Media Group sacrificed the revenue it would have received from TLC, the amount of which is uncertain.

“We just had to go our separate ways,” Abraham said. “We were never able to agree on the creative approach for the project. We simply were not going to do anything to undermine the credibility and the relationships we have with our drivers. We were being asked to do things more in line with traditional reality programming and it wasn’t true to the nature and personality of our sport and the women involved.”

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