- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Sarah Palin is hitting the road with her guns, fishing rods and “Mama Grizzly” persona.

The former Alaska governor is returning to reality TV as host of “Amazing America,” a weekly series on the Sportsman Channel set to begin in April.

According to its billing, Mrs. Palin “takes viewers coast-to-coast where the American spirit and the great outdoors are celebrated in equal measure.”

“It takes a certain kind of pizzazz for a politician to make the move into reality television,” said Jeffrey McCall, professor of communication at DePauw University. “Harry Reid, for example, could never find a reality television platform that would catch on. The Sportsman Channel, however, has found a great fit with Sarah Palin. Palin has a special attraction for her fans, many of whom are likely viewers for Sportsman Channel.”

The show is Mrs. Palin’s second direct attempt at reality television. In 2010, she and her family were the focus of TLC’s “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.” The series premiere was the network’s most-watched with nearly 5 million viewers, though the show lost roughly half of that audience after four episodes.

“People who love the outdoors and support the Second Amendment will find this show and its focus on Sarah to their liking,” Mr. McCall said. “I am quite certain that Sarah’s show will be a ratings winner for this channel and her high profile will draw people to the channel who previously had not tried it.”

The Sportsman Channel provides 24/7 programming about hunting, fishing and shooting to more than 32 million households.

“Obviously, what you want from a host is someone true to the brand and the lifestyle. She certainly checks that box,” said Marc Fein, executive vice president of programming and production for the Sportsman Channel.

Robert Thompson, director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, said what makes Mrs. Palin stand out is that she “was so much more than a political candidate.”

“She was a presence in the American Olympus of celebrity, in a class kind of her own,” he said. “She was the punch line of every late-night comedian’s jokes, she was the clown in the freak show. At the same time, she was in the position as a woman running for vice president. That hasn’t happened many times.”

Mr. Thompson said the show could draw an audience of those hoping “to see her and say, ‘You go, girl,’” but also those waiting for the next train wreck.

Larger than life

Mrs. Palin, a mother of five, became a household name when Republican presidential candidate John McCain plucked her from political obscurity to become his running mate in the 2008 election.

Her folksy style and defense of the Second Amendment helped make her a rock star among the party’s grass roots and a favorite target of Democrats.

After the election, Mrs. Palin returned to Alaska. She stepped down as governor months later, citing “frivolous” ethics probes and associated legal costs.

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