Discovery Communications is expected to announce that it has won the Sarah Palin tourney. The cabler had been a front-runner to land the untitled Alaska-themed series, to be produced by Mark Burnett Prods., along with A&E.
Earlier today, word emerged, however, that A&E was likely no longer in the
running, leaving Discovery as the presumptive winner.
Discovery execs were unavailable for comment all day, as many
were in Chicago prepping for a mini-upfront presentation. Palin wasn't
expected to make an appearance there, but she could be in attendance
when Discovery conducts its official upfront in New York on April 8.
Show is believed to have fetched more than $1 million an episode — a hefty pricetag for a freshman unscripted cable skein.
But this, of course, is not just your average unscripted cable skein. The controversial Palin is seen as a mega-draw — both among her rabid fans, as well as curiosity seekers who might tune in to see how the former Alaska governor presents herself.
"Sarah Palin's Alaska" will center on interesting characters, traditions and attractions in the 49th state — with the ex-VP candidate as a guide. Burnett and Palin pitched the show to all four major networks — but given the travelogue nature of the series, cable expressed more interest in the project.
Discovery ultimately made the most sense — as the channel's hit "Deadliest Catch" is also shot in Palin Country. And Palin also happened to make a brief appearance on Discovery's 2008 doc "Toughest Race on Earth: Iditarod" — shot before she became a household name.
Palin may have also been concerned over being lumped in with some of A&E's stars — such as Gene Simmons or Dog the Bounty Hunter. On the flip side, as A&E focuses on interesting characters and their lives, a travelogue hosted by Palin might have been a strange fit. (Show probably would have also run on AETN's History and/or Lifetime, where it would have made more sense.)
At Discovery, it's still unclear whether the Palin show will pop up on multiple networks — including Oprah Winfrey's OWN. Winfrey, of course, recently conducted a much-talked-about chat with Palin on her daytime gabber.