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NBC’s ‘Great American Road Trip’ Debuts Tuesday

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July 6, 2009 by   Leave a Comment

nup_135253_01681Parents who have taken road trips will chuckle – or cringe – watching NBC’s “Great American Road Trip,” premiering Tuesday at 8 p.m. EST, according to the Boston Herald.

Sure, everyone should see this exquisite land, but doing it while spending a month together in an RV with no personal electronics would seem daunting to even the closest of families. Yet seven brave families of four, shown above, pile into NBC-provided RVs to head west on Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles in this reality series hosted by comic Reno Collier.

During each one-hour episode, the families face challenges. The family that loses leaves. The last family remaining after the eight episodes wins $100,000.

The first challenge is being deprived of iPods, portable DVD players and cell phones. For most teens, this is akin to cutting off oxygen.

“They’re meant to be fun family challenges,” said executive producer Lisa Hennessy. “There’s one where the dads did a cook-off – who could make the best burgers. And we did a blind taste test. We also have bigger challenges where the families do a zip line. We did it outside Las Vegas, and they have to hit a target with a balloon filled with paint. They’re just meant to be fun and funny.”

The 14 youths are between ages 9 and 16, and the families were selected to be geographically, racially, ethnically and economically diverse. Family togetherness and a desire to see the country motivated people to participate.

“I have always been fascinated with reality (TV, but) I was not willing to leave my family for an extended period of time,” said Amie Pollard of Wicksburg, Ala. “When I saw this, I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh! The trip of a lifetime, and we can do it as a family.’ I was kind of already having that separation anxiety because my son is literally less than a year from going to college. This is the chance for us to have one big hoorah as a family, take a huge vacation together and do things we have never, ever done before.”

Amie is married to her high-school sweetheart, Ron, and they have two children, Aaron, 17, and Anslie, 12.

Anslie, who addresses adults as “ma’am,” learned a lot about her parents, namely, “I really and truly thought they were not as together when we got on the trip,” she said. “I learned they were very close.”

Lenny Faverey, a doorman at a Manhattan building, had never driven farther than 100 miles and was nervous about maneuvering an RV. (NBC paid for the gas, which averaged $1,500 per family.) He and his wife, Dee, and their children, Dylan, 15, and Ashley, 10, had a great time.

“Doing this adventure with my family has given me a new light on life,” he said.

As magnificent as the sights are, Pollard says the trip made her realize “how much your day-to-day reaction with each other is limited because of technology. When all of that is taken away, there is so much for your family. We would lie in bed at night and tell jokes, and we would be laughing out loud in the dark in the RV. As adults, we get so wrapped up in careers and our jobs and all the things that don’t matter.”

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