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Amy Grant on mission from sponsors in 'Three Wishes'

(Posted September 22, 2005 by Leah Yoakum)

For those who like their reality shows loaded with sugar and syrup, it simply doesn't get any sweeter -- or more commercial -- than "Three Wishes."

The series should be accompanied by an advisory to warn those who sit though it that they might end up stuck to their chair or sofa.

The quick description is that host Amy Grant, a sweet-natured recording artist who has spun Christian music into gold, and her energetic helpers visit a small town each week (presumably, larger cities are beyond fixing with three wishes). Once there, they fulfill a passel of wishes for the lucky few chosen from among those who have queued up with heart-tugging tales.

But that's not entirely accurate. It turns out that most, if not all, the wishes are granted by the folks in the product placement department, who negotiate on-air mentions in exchange for merchandise or service. Grant and her crew are pretty much agents in a show that might more accurately be titled "Touched by a Sponsor."

Not that there's anything wrong with doing good deeds. There's plenty of pain and misery and suffering that needs to be relieved, and TV is as good a place to start as any. So when little Bobby tells about the sacrifices made by his stepfather, or when little Abby needs facial reconstruction after a terrible car crash, or when the whole town of Sonora, Calif., needs a new football field to honor the coach with leukemia, you'd have to have a heart of onyx not to feel for them. And when they get what they need, as you know they will, you can't help but hear the immortal words of Martha Stewart ("It's a good thing") in between the copious shots of teardrops.

Still, there is something more than a little manipulative about the way all of this is accomplished, from the highly edited meeting with the stadium turf firm to the unknown amount of donations from the fundraising carnival. In each instance, and many others, the reality of this reality show was camouflaged by the dire need for Kodak moments.

Exec producers Andrew Glassman and Jason Raff ("Average Joe") want you to believe that Grant, strictly through the power of altruism, has brought about miracles. In fact, most of the credit goes to economics philosopher Adam Smith and his "invisible hand" of capitalism. There's nothing wrong with the arrangement. We'll see even more in this brave new world of digital video recorders. But as long as we're making wishes, how about one that such relationships be more transparent?

Unless CBS' "Threshold" becomes an immediate favorite, "Wishes" faces no stiff competition in the 9 p.m. Friday slot. It follows "Dateline NBC" in what appears to be an aggressive bid for CBS' former demos.

Host: Amy Grant.

Executive producers: Andrew Glassman, Jason Raff; Co-executive producers: Lewis Fenton, Lillian Lim; Supervising producers: Grant Julian, Jeff Keirns; Line producer: Tim Gaydos; Supervising casting producer: Bryan Stinson; Executive in charge of production: John R. Holmes; Director of photography: Guido Frenzel; Contributors: Carter Oosterhouse, Eric Stromer, Diane Mizota.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

Source: Yahoo! News

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