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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

“Gone Country”: Reality Has Gone Endearing

In my “Idol Chit-Chat” blog, I bemoaned Diana DeGarmo’s participation in the CMT reality show, “Gone Country.” After all, the show should be really stupid and pointless.

So how come it’s so gosh darn endearing?

“Country” is a reality show starring John Rich (of Big and Rich), which pits seven celebrities in a competition with the winner releasing a country song that Rich produces. The music is the main part of the show, but the celebrities also have to engage in country-related challenges.

The celebrities are: Bobby Brown, Diana DeGarmo, Julio Iglesias Jr., Maureen McCormick, Sisqo, Dee Snider and Carnie Wilson.

In the first episode, the celebrities board the tour bus one at a time from stops around Nashville, allowing us to see the cast learn about each other for the first time. Immediately, we see that Carnie is the class clown. Maureen is the cheerleader, who gets excited about everything—except Bobby being on the show. But when Maureen discovers that Bobby smokes, the two form an unlikely bond. Dee fancies himself the rebel, but Bobby gives him a good challenge for that title. Sisqo is still kind of quiet, and Julio is totally clueless. Diana is the spunky little sister.

Since the challenges don’t pit the contestants against each other, they have a chance to bond and it’s really sweet—in a weird, reality sort of way. You honestly want them to succeed and you can’t wait to see how they do it.

John Rich is a perfect choice to star in the show with his constant switch between mentor and instigator. And his larger-than-life persona plays well with the celebrities.

As for who I think has the best shot to win this thing, my early favorite would have to be Diana. She’s got a great voice that’s perfectly suited for country. But we’ve seen her choke before (“Idol” finale night, anyone?).

I think there’s a chance Bobby could surprise some people, if he’s able to stay sober.

And I have a feeling Maureen has got something special, but I can’t say for sure because we haven’t heard her sing yet.

It’s nice to see a reality show that isn’t so stuck in the mud that it can’t show us a human side.

I may have been a skeptic at first, but I have now gone country…

“Gone Country” airs Fridays at 8 p.m. on CMT…

Photos courtesy of