A new kind of reality TV in Malibu’s own backyard.
By Ryan O’Quinn/Special to The Malibu Times
Approximately 20 million children return home every year to live with their parents prior to setting out to find a job, start a career, get married or decide if college is really right for them. In most instances, Dad is ready to empty the nest and Mom is still happy to prepare breakfast or make the beds as long as the kids will stick around. The Foster family of Malibu is no exception. The only difference being Dad is a multi-Grammy winning music producer, Mom is an award-winning songwriter, and actress and model, and the boys will be hanging out in a $70 million estate while America watches it all on television.
This time the television series was not the brainchild of a studio executive or an entertainment company, but rather a group of early 20-something guys who made an ultimatum to make their own money by going far beyond anyone’s expectations.
The end result is a new TV series that will have the cameras rolling inside the Foster home to capture the off-the-wall antics that two sons and a group of friends can pull off to make money to not only pay rent in the 20,000-square-foot mansion but also meet Dad’s demands that they get a job.
The series is being called an “unscripted sitcom” that will expose the family dynamic of a typical American household that just happens to have Barbra Streisand over for dinner on occasion and live in the same neighborhood as Britney Spears.
The stars of the series are Brody and Brandon Jenner, sons of matriarch Linda Thompson-Foster and Olympian Bruce Jenner. David Foster and Linda married 14 years ago after meeting at the Grammys.
The boys grew up in Malibu and admit that their life is, in some ways, no different from others their age, but in other ways is radically different.
The initial idea for a TV show was generated by Brody’s 21-year-old friend and USC film student Spencer Pratt. Pratt had been in Brazil shooting a different project and had dabbled with other short film and documentary ideas until he reconnected with Brody years after they had first met in elementary school.
“I went out to dinner with Brody and said, ‘Let me film you,’ Pratt said. “The next morning he woke up with a camera in his face.”
The duo shot 60 hours of footage behind the walls of the Malibu compound called Villa Casablanca. They then approached GRB Entertainment, the company responsible for such series as “Growing up Gotti” and the upcoming reality show “Invasion Iowa.”
GRB editors pared down the footage to a 5-minute DVD pitch and a friend got it into the hands of Fox Entertainment president Gail Berman, and the rest is history.
The boys, who were originally charged with the task of finding a job, ended up selling the television series to Fox, which promptly ordered six episodes without a single episode in the can.
“Everybody wants their kids to do great,” David Foster said. “Brody and his brother were trying to film their lifestyle in Malibu. They did something that is very difficult to do in this business, sell a TV show on their first try.”
About 80 crewmembers will descend on the estate for several weeks of filming and the product should be nothing short of hysterical as well as mesmerizing.
“Anything could happen here,” Pratt said. “This is Malibu. Anything is possible.”
The producers are banking on the broad appeal of the show being the plight of everyman when his children or stepchildren come back home to live. Not to mention the fact that random celebrities will inevitably drop by the 22-acre estate.
“One night I was going to bed and I turned out 18 lights,” Foster added. “I think this is something every parent can relate to.”
Contrary to what one might expect from kids who “have it all,” the Jenner boys are not only creative but also resourceful in nearly everything they attempt.
The older sibling, Brandon, 23, decided that music would be his chosen path and not only has a band, Big Dume, which is hard at work on their first album, but also started a music production company and his own record label. When not in the studio, Brandon may be found in the air. He recently obtained his private pilot’s license.
“I think the boys appreciate David’s input,” Linda said. “They have a tremendous work ethic. They are so daring and they embrace life every day. David says ‘work hard today so you can play hard tomorrow.’ Life should be a mixture of both and I think they have that.”
“This show is something that has happened so fast,” Brandon said. “It has been our goal to make it different but also include elements from other reality shows. It’s quite unique. People have a strange preconception about what reality is in Malibu. We are making an effort to show that in a fun way.”
As a by-product of the publicity surrounding the series, 21-year-old Brody recently landed a gig as the new male Guess model alongside acquaintance Paris Hilton.
“Everybody wants their kids to do great,” David Foster said. “Brody and his brother decided to film their lifestyle here in Malibu and it resonated with the studios. In many ways [the show] has brought me closer to them on a lot of levels. I’m anxious to share with them what I know business-wise.”
Fox Television will air the untitled television series this summer with a lead-in by the popular “American Idol” series. Stay tuned for more on the new generation of this highly creative family.