Mike Hill now lives in two very different worlds: sports broadcasting and the "Real Housewives" reality franchise. All that thanks to the matchmaking skills of Steve Harvey.
Harvey on his talk show last year linked Hill up with Cynthia Bailey, the long-time "Real Housewives of Atlanta" member who married and divorced her first husband Peter Thomas.
Hill and Bailey quickly fell in love and recently got engaged to get married hopefully some time next year. And now he's very much a player in this sturdy "Housewives" show, shooting its 12th season and Bailey's 10th.
“She makes it enjoyable for me,” said Hill, 49, who talked to me last week to promote a new show he’s co-hosting on Netflix called “Hyperdrive,” a car racing obstacle course competition show that came out last month. It was pitched as “Fast & the Furious” meets “American Ninja Warrior.”
Hill, who works for Fox Sports 1 out of Los Angeles, said she prepped him for "Housewives" and how it works. Last season, when he was introduced on the show, he created no drama, came across as just a nice guy with no ulterior motives or overt problems.
“I haven’t had issues with anybody,” Hill said. “If there is an uncomfortable situation on camera, I know how to navigate out of it, moonwalking out of the scene. I’ll let the ladies handle that. I’ll be in her corner. I’ll be there.”
Hill said they are still bi-coastal, meaning he works in Los Angeles and she works in Atlanta. They have yet to decide where they are going to reside permanently. “It’s a point of contention but, we’ll work it out,” he said. “God’s in control.”
Hill was in fact about to shoot a scene at Bailey’s lakeside Sandy Springs home where she was going to reserve some closet space for him. “She’s making it very comfortable,” he said. “She’s trying to entice me.”
Hill is familiar with “Real Housewives” because he watched the early seasons with his first wife. He got to see Bailey’s college-age daughter Noelle when she was young and now they have a great relationship, he said. He was impressed by how she navigated the ups and downs of her relationship with Thomas, which is why he even considered dating her on the Harvey show.
As for “Hyperdrive,” Hill could not have been more psyched.
The show features drivers from around the world (e.g. Brazil, Germany, France, Japan) using their own cars to navigate an obstacle course built on the parking lot of a former Kodak factory in Rochester, N.Y. In the darkness, they have to drift through ridiculously tight spaces, hit targets while doing doughnuts, run through shallow water with just dim lights to guide them and climb a steep slope from a dead stop.
The show is packed with adrenaline, cool visuals, disappointment and triumph.
"How do you like dem apples?" said a joyful Brittany Williams, after a flawless run through the qualifying course, then dropping her mic on the ground.
Hill, who has seen his fair share of sporting competitions in his lifetime, said this was “the biggest thrill I’ve had in my career over 24 years. And I’ve been to Super Bowls, NBA finals, World Series, championship fights.”
For him, doing play by play, “I wanted to paint that picture for the viewers who weren’t there in person. I wanted them to feel what I was feeling at that particular time, that raw emotion coming out of me.”
He also got to hang out with fellow host and car expert Rutledge Wood, who lives near Senoia and a former host of U.S. "Top Gear." He is a true gear head, who knows cars inside and out.
“He’s like family to me now,” Hill said. “We taped this a year ago and now we don’t go more than two weeks without contacting each other.”
Wood in a separate interview, said given the scope of Netflix's reach, he has never gotten this much feedback from anything he has done before - even "Top Gear." "My kids thinks it's the biggest thing I've ever done," he said. And he was thrilled when former 99X jock and good friend Yvonne Monet sent a photo to him of her watching the show though she has zero interest in cars.
“I was so proud,” he said. “I made a show even she would watch!”
About the Author
Rodney Ho writes about entertainment for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A native New Yorker, he has covered education at The Virginian-Pilot, small business for The Wall Street Journal and a host of beats at the AJC over 20-plus years.