Guest writer is my colleague Asif Lakhani, a big basketball fan writing about analogy-loving TNT NBA analyst Kenny "The Jet" Smith ans his new reality show "Meet the Smiths" debuting on sister station TBS Friday, April 3.
By ASIF LAKHANI/ firstname.lastname@example.org, originally filed Friday, April 3, 2015
Kenny “The Jet” Smith is a two-time NBA champion and Emmy Award-winning sports analyst, but on the new reality TV show Meet the Smiths, which chronicles the daily life of him and his family, Smith is seen in a more candid role: the figurehead of a unique, blended household.
Speaking from a hotel in New York City a few days before the premiere (Friday, April 3, 9 p.m. ET, TBS), Smith likens his family situation to making the “perfect blend of coffee” because of how many different personalities are thrown into the mix under their Los Angeles roof.
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For starters, he is married to an English model, Gwendolyn Osborne-Smith, a Price Is Right model whose native accent is on prominent display in the show. Between them, they have two children, the young, outspoken Malloy and a 2-year-old, London.
Before Smith married Gwendolyn, he had two children of his own. KJ is a high school athlete who’s being recruited, and Kayla is an aspiring musician with a single that’s currently on MTV Jams. His wife, on the other hand, had a daughter of her own, Monique, before marrying Smith.
Smith says he has been asked for multiple years about featuring his family on TV but was reluctant to do so because “I didn’t see the benefit.” His stance changed when the production company Good Clean Fun approached him about the idea because they were accommodating and collaborative, which made him comfortable. He adds, “I just thought also to see a family having fun on television would be fun again, just the same way we approach our Inside the NBA show.”
He goes on to say, “We’re not curing the world’s problems, but we’re having fun, and we’re doing it in a way that everyone can relate to.”
Because there are kids from the ages 2 to 21 in the house, plus the two adults, the Smiths could very well be you or someone you know, he says. And he’s right.
The show works because the family is inherently comedic and genuinely humble, and the topics covered such as adoption, anniversaries, school and more come about naturally and organically.
“You can’t re-create certain things,” which applies both to his family at home and his Turner family in Atlanta, he says.
On both sets, even though Meet the Smiths is “happenin’ in the kitchen” as he puts it, the bonds and relationships on camera are an authentic version of what they are behind-the-scenes. “The only difference is instead of yelling at Shaq and Charles, I’m getting yelled at by the kids,” he says. Of course.
All in all, Smith came a long way during the filming process.
“It was a lot more fun than I thought it would be,” he says.
He went from not seeing the benefit of a show to seeing his family become closer throughout the process, as a result of extended board game nights and press events among other things. They laughed more, learned more about one another, and “changed more diapers,” he says, reflecting on how their individual schedules became shared experiences.
The show premieres Friday night, which is when he will be en route to Indianapolis for Final Four coverage. “This is the busiest time I’ve ever had, combining all three [NCAA tournament, show premiere and NBA Playoffs later this month] together,” he says. Clearly the experience is proving to be worth it for him, and it pays off for those who make time to watch the new show as well.
“Every time people let me into their living rooms—every week, every Thursday—and now I’m letting ‘em into mine,” he says. “It’s a unique perspective because I think that what everyone’s perception that you have as being a former NBA player, former NBA champion or on television every day [is] that you don’t have the same duties that everyone else has.”