Review: ‘Gene Simmons Family Jewels’

Is this any way for cable TV to treat a self-proclaimed "rock god," shuttling him from VH1 to A&E in a weak knockoff of "The Osbournes"? Gene Simmons' latest reality vehicle not only suffers from poor punctuation, but it's a flat-out bore -- and a little depressing, frankly, to see the KISS renegade opening a Hooters in Vegas.

Is this any way for cable TV to treat a self-proclaimed “rock god,” shuttling him from VH1 (“Rock School”) to A&E in a weak knockoff of “The Osbournes”? Gene Simmons’ latest reality vehicle not only suffers from poor punctuation, but it’s a flat-out bore — and a little depressing, frankly, to see the KISS renegade opening a Hooters in Vegas. On the plus side, it’s nice that his longtime girlfriend, actress/pin-up Shannon Tweed, is finally featured in something that airs before midnight on Cinemax.

The “happily unmarried” Simmons and Tweed have been together 22 years, with two children, Jack and Kelly. Kidding! They’re actually 17-year-old Nick, who jokes about being a “bastard,” and Sophie, 14. The whole quartet talks to the camera in what resemble photo-booth confessionals.

At first glance there’s nothing particularly distinctive (that is, wildly screwed up) about the kids, reality TV-wise, meaning the producers must scramble to inject excitement into the premiere. So Simmons flirts demurely with women at the aforementioned Hooters, discusses his notorious tongue, and then is asked to drop by the wedding of a devoted fan.

Back home, meanwhile, he’s planning a surprise party for Tweed, who hates surprises and decides to retaliate. Merry (but not terribly clever) mix-ups ensue. Future plots include a father-son driving challenge, Simmons micro-managing his son’s band and Tweed fretting about her non-hubby’s weight, which suggests considerable production elbow grease is being expended in an effort to make the family interesting.

Overall, the general conceit is one that has come to characterize most celebreality of the third-tier kind, which is: A) Famous people have problems getting along, just like us, and B) Look how weird and fabulous being a rock star is. (In an effort to humanize the clan, homevideo from when the kids were younger airs coming out of the commercials.)

Other than being unmarried, however, there’s nothing particularly exciting about the Tweed-Simmons coupling, and not to be rude, but aren’t most devoted KISS fans slouching toward the top end of the 25-54 demo?

A&E plans to launch “Family Jewels” with back-to-back episodes the first two weeks, but barring intervention from the real rock gods, that will only hasten its departure, as Simmons’ latest staged sojourn into reality mostly looks like the kiss of death.

Gene Simmons Family Jewels

A&E, Mon. Aug. 7, 10 p.m.

Production

Produced by the Greif Co./A Day With and the Gene Simmons Co. Executive producers, Simmons, Leslie Greif, Adam Reed, Nancy Dubuc, Robert Sharenow, Didi O'Hearn; co-executive producer, Chad Greulach; supervising producer, Stephanie Buxbaum; senior producers, David Price, Jonathan Reiner; director, Reed.

Crew

Camera, Lance Jeffery; lead editor, Paul Peltekian. Running time: 30 MIN.

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