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REALITY TV

Amy "Grants" Three Wishes

By Belinda Elliott
CBN.com Daily Life Producer

CBN.com If you could have one wish granted, what would it be? That’s the question NBC is asking people across America as it debuts its newest reality show, “Three Wishes.”

The unscripted series is hosted by five-time Grammy winner Amy Grant, along with Carter Oosterhouse (NBC’s “Today,” “Trading Spaces”), Eric Stromer (“Clean Sweep”) and Diane Mizota (“Trading Spaces: Boys vs. Girls”). The show is the brainchild of former journalists Andrew Glassman and Jason Raff who produced NBC’s hit-series “Average Joe.”

Each one-hour episode takes the show’s hosts to various towns where they spend one week working to bring to life the hopes and dreams of people they meet there. In each new town crowds of people stand in line for hours to explain their wishes to the hosts, with the hope that they will be chosen.

Eric Stromer, Diane Mizota, and Carter Oosterhouse from NBC's new series 'Three Wishes' While only three large wishes (and a few smaller ones) are chosen to be granted, Grant said the show’s presence in a town often causes a “ripple effect” of people pitching in to help their friends and neighbors.

“Things happen in the town that sometimes are filmed, but do not make it on the television show, and things also happen in the town because people get involved and do things for each other,” Grant said.

She said she hopes the show will serve as a “teaching tool” to encourage people to seek ways they can reinvest in their communities.

“We live in an age where people are not connecting the way they used to, not meeting each others’ needs on a basic level,” Grant said.

The pilot episode is set in Senora, Calif., where Grant and crew aid a family whose young daughter needs facial reconstruction after an accident, help a boy pay tribute to his stepfather, and honor a high school coach by granting the wish she has for her students.

The role of philanthropist fits Grant well. She said her work with charities such as the Make-a-Wish Foundation, St. Jude Children’s Hospital, and Habitat for Humanity gave her first-hand experiences with helping people realize their dreams and also prepared her for the highly emotional nature of the show.

Executive producer Glassman said Grant was the only person they approached for the job.

Amy Grant listens to people express their wishes.“Amy was our first choice on our first day,” Glassman said. “I just thought, ‘Whose public persona fits the values and the character of the show that we are trying to create?’ and I literally thought of Amy’s name first.”

After he had the opportunity to meet her in person, he said his first impressions about the artist were confirmed. “The warmth and compassion that she has for other people is so genuine and so real that it strikes you in the room on a personal level, and it carries right through the screen.”

Glimpses of Grant’s faith also come through the screen. She said originally she wondered how big a role her faith could play in the network series. She found her answer after expressing concern for one of the families featured on the show telling them that they would be in her “thoughts and prayers.” No one made a fuss about the comment.

“I remember a little part of me saying, ‘Oh, good, we can say that,’” Grant said. “We all get to react naturally.”

Indeed, the show’s true value stems from its quality of realness and the fact that everyone involved with the show is genuine.

“All we are trying to do is let people tell their stories,” Grant said. “We’re not trying to slant it one way or another, we are just trying to give people the opportunity to tell their story and have their wish granted.”

Unlike other reality shows, on which several of "Three Wishes’" crew members have worked previously, the situations and emotions are not contrived, said Glassman.

“This show is much different,” he said. “These are not generally people who are seeking to be on television. They are just people who are caught in an emotional crossroads in their lives and they are genuinely asking for a little help.”

It’s a job that, at the end of each long week of wish-granting and production duties, leaves the entire cast and crew – as well as the viewers at home -- feeling good about what they are doing.

“There are no fingers crossed behind anybody’s back, and there’s not another foot waiting to fall on this show. It is exactly what it is,” Grant said. “It’s an amazing use of network dollars to pay and sponsorship money to do amazing, philanthropic things in people’s lives.”

The show premieres tonight on NBC at 9 p.m. EST/ 8 p.m. CST.

 

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