Sportsman Channel, in a move that underscores its commitment to outdoor lifestyle fare and one it believes will lift its profile overall, is set to premiere an original series next April, hosted by former U.S. vice presidential candidate and outdoor enthusiast Sarah Palin.
Amazing America with Sarah Palin is a weekly, half-hour anthology show that will feature the ex-Alaska governor and best-selling author traveling around the country to shine a light on some of the personal stories surrounding the worlds of hunting, shooting and angling.
Marking “Mama Grizzly’s” return to unscripted series television, Amazing America with Sarah Palin is part of the network’s “Red, Wild & Blue America” programming strategy that Sportsman Channel CEO Gavin Harvey says is “part of the American spirit and American dream. Our country is the world’s largest outdoor playground.”
Scheduled to bow on Thursday, April 3, the show is the first of a three-series deal with Pilgrim Studios, the award-winning company whose production credits includes The Ultimate Fighter for Fox Sports 1, Ghost Hunters for Syfy, Orange County Choppers for CMT and Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s for OWN.
Harvey said the 32-million subscriber network is the category leader in terms of providing authentic programming for hunters, shooters and anglers, and is now increasing its aim at lifestyle fare around those enthusiasts.
“There are great stories and characters, some more eccentric than others, that work around the industry. They are taxidermists and great craftsman, who build knives or engrave guns the old-fashioned way,” said Harvey. “Governor Palin is a participant, who brings a passion and authenticity to the outdoor lifestyle. We’re ecstatic and very proud that she picked Sportsman Channel for her return to unscripted television.”
Noted Palin: "I'm excited to help shine a light on all the great American sportsmen and women in the country who live the outdoors lifestyle. Sportsman Channel is the leader in their industry and I am thrilled to be partnering with them on this show."
Previously, she had hosted Sarah Palin’s Alaska, a travelogue, docuseries from Mark Burnett Productions that aired on TLC in 2010-11, and served as a contributor to Fox News Channel.
Harvey said that Sportsman, which signed the deal with Palin a few weeks ago, has been looking to build on its bedrock of hunting, shooting and fishing programming since Mark Fein, the executive who worked with Harvey at Versus (now NBC Sports Network), joined the channel as executive vice president of programming and production in April
Along those lines, the independent service, which has been gaining traction with its weekday show NRA News Cam & Co. hosted by Cam Edwards and is owned by Leo Hindery’s InterMedia Partners, recently announced that actor and veterans’ advocate Gary Sinise has joined as the official spokesman for the network’s year-round "Salute to Service" initiative. The endeavor manifests with dedicated programming , particularly around Memorial Day, the 4th of July and Veterans Day.
“There is a nexus of those who served in the military and their families with the great outdoors,” said Harvey. “ 'Salute to Service' is a precursor to 'Red, Wild and Blue' and we’re proud to celebrate and honor the bravery of our American servicemen and women and their families.”
In the first of its three-series deal with Pilgrim, Harvey said that plan for most of the first 12 episodes of Amazing America is to present a pair of segments within the half-hour, although some may divided into three or showcase one of these unique characters.
He said Palin has been involved in pre-production and that shooting will begin soon. Harvey and Fein are working with Pilgrim and Palin in determining which tales to tell. “We’ve been getting plenty of feedback from Governor Palin. So far everything is going really well,” he said, declining to specify the series’ initial targets.
Palin has been squarely in the public’s eye since her turn in 2008 as Sen. John McCain’s vice presidential running mate. A three-time New York Times best-selling author for Going Rogue, America By Heart and Good Tidings and Great Joy, Palin has nearly 5 million social media followers.
“There are not many bigger media personalities than Sarah Palin. Her presence and passion will draw more attention to our network and the category overall,” he said.
Harvey maintains that outdoor arena is far from a niche, with almost 100 million Americans engaged in hunting, shooting or fishing. To that end, hunters alone fired a $38.3 billion economic impact during 2011. “Americans, coast to coast, in cities, suburbs, barns and ranches, enjoy these activities. There are fans everywhere.”
Included in that rank are a growing number of women, who are helping to pass down these values and traditions to their families. “The segment growth is being led by women. Governor Palin’s love of the outdoors is a reflection of this.”