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ABC may look to area for family reality show

December 19, 2003|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

ABC is eyeing Hagerstown-area families to swap mothers for 10 days and then let a national television audience watch how they make do in a new prime-time reality series set to premiere next summer.

"The Swap" aims to show viewers how other families live their lives, such as whether a practice that is common in one family is acceptable in another, how families share chores, spending habits and other family practices.

Stephanie Dervan, spokeswoman for RDF Media and ABC, said ABC chose Hagerstown as one of the areas to look for families because it appears to be a "tightly knit, family-oriented community."

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But some local officials said Thursday they weren't ready to open their arms and welcome reality television to the area.

"This is one of the dumbest things I've ever heard," Washington County Commissioner Doris J. Nipps said. "I do not watch any of the reality programs. I think they are dumb."

ABC mainly is recruiting families from the East Coast that have two parents and children older than 2, Dervan said.

During the first five days of the swap, mothers will try to fit in with their new families by carrying out their regular routines.

But for the final five days, the mothers will be allowed to make changes and run the families how they see fit, Dervan said.

"Families (and viewers) will quickly discover that what is deemed 'conventional' in one family can be considered unorthodox and completely bizarre in another," according to a written statement.

Hagerstown City Councilman Kristin Aleshire wasn't impressed with ABC's interest in the area.

He said even if a family from Hagerstown were chosen, he wouldn't watch.

"I don't understand how somebody's life could be so boring that they'd want to watch somebody else live theirs," Aleshire said. "That's how I feel about reality shows."

"At what point do we really get back to reality?" Aleshire said. "Reality shows are kinda like an oxymoron."

Nipps said somebody she knows could make the show and she'd still tune out.

"I just think these programs are there to make fools of people," Nipps said. "I just don't approve of them. I'm just not into trying to make people look dumb and foolish."

Michael Davis, executive producer of "The Swap," also was executive producer of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire."

Independent production company RDF Media also is an executive producer of "The Swap," according to RDF Media's Web site. The Britain-based company also produces "Junkyard Wars."

RDF Media's Web site states "The Swap" is based on the United Kingdom's "Wife Swap."

Hagerstown-area families interested in being on "The Swap" may call 1-212-905-6059, e-mail theswap@rdfmedia.com or visit "The Swap" Web site at www.theswaptvshow.com.

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