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Reality TV, meet Beaver Cleaver

A rapper and a rock star make the most of their celebrity as just a couple of nice, positive role models in two upcoming shows.

By CHASE SQUIRES
Published July 16, 2005


BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - Bad boys gone good?

In two shows that cable siblings MTV and VH1 introduced to television critics Thursday, a couple of rockers show a different side. No sex, no drugs, and what rock 'n' roll there is, has a distinctly different twist.

These guys are really nice.

With the reality genre appearing to lean toward "uplifting" in the coming season, hip-hop pioneer Joey "Run" Simmons of Run DMC presents his slice of home life on MTV's Run's House. The hook is, rapper Run is now the Rev. Run, a minister with a close family. It's kind of a new Cosby family thing, or The Osbournes without rehab, Simmons said.

Over on VH1, Kiss frontman and lizard-tongued vampire Gene Simmons (no relation to the rapper) goes to an ultra-conservative British boarding school to teach teens how to rock 'n' roll in a show called Gene Simmons' Rock School. Here, the switcheroo is that as he tries to mold likable but nerdy English school children into a band that will perform at a hard rock show, Simmons is downright protective and fatherly to his young charges.

Both stand out as potentially entertaining and interesting fare in a format that appeared fished out.

Joey Simmons, working with his brother, Russell, and rap mogul Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, said Run's House has the distinction of being among the first hip-hop reality shows, while presenting a positive message to families.

"People always say, "You're a reverend, where's your church?' Well, my church is on MTV," the rapper said. "I won't preach, but I like to show them how it can be ... I grew up on MTV, and I'm excited to share my life with the world. That will be my way of saying I'm the Rev. Run, rappers don't only drink and bust caps and run amok ... they become grown and put on a suit and try to raise their children."

His family includes wife, Justine, and four seemingly well-adjusted, well-mannered children, ages 21 to 8.

Combs said it's about time America saw a hip-hop artist being a good father and a stand-up member of society.

Gene Simmons, who spits blood and sports full-face makeup on stage, interacts surprisingly sweetly with 13- and 14-year-olds.

Thursday, he claimed he was as tough as a drill sergeant, but on the first episode he's outwardly generous and caring, encouraging the kids to shake off stuffy boarding-school ways and don a rock 'n' roll attitude.

After a question-and-answer session Thursday with Dudley Beal and Rodney Vubya, both 14, rocker Simmons had his arm across Vubya's shoulder.

The Kiss leader, a sixth grade teacher in New York City before his band took off, said he worried that the kids would bomb.

"I reserved the right to pull the plug and say you're not going to get up on stage," he told reporters. "You have to have the outer aggression to get out there, spread your legs and be a rock god."

Nice try, ya big lug.

A school official who joined him at the news conference confided afterward that he's a sweetie.

"As he got to know the children, he turned into quite the teacher," said Mary Ireland, who helps run the English school where Rock School was filmed. "There's quite a teacher in him."

Gene Simmons' Rock School debuts at 11 p.m. Aug. 19 on VH1; Run's House is scheduled to premiere some time in October on MTV.

[Last modified July 16, 2005, 00:39:42]


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