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June 19, 2012 11:30 AM Nick Lachey, Todd Palin, and Wesley Clark Do Reality TV

By Danny Vinik

Singer Nick Lachey has had quite a career on television. It started in 2003 with Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica, which aired 41 episodes revolving around the (dysfunctional) marriage between Lachey and Jessica Simpson (they divorced in 2006). Next, in 2007, he was one of the choir directors on NBC’s Clash of the Choirs and hosted another NBC show, The Sing Off, from 2009 up until May of this year (it was just cancelled). TLC even filmed his wedding to Vanessa Minnillo last July.

Thus, Lachey is no stranger to the small screen, but his new role may be a little unfamiliar. This time, he’s not a judge or coach: he’s the contestant. And it’s not just any show. He’ll compete in the first season of NBC’s upcoming show Stars Earn Stripes along with seven other celebrities, who each will team up with a former military or law enforcement member to “tackle complicated and difficult ‘missions’ inspired by real-life military exercises.”

To make it even tougher, Lachey is facing off against some steep competition. Female boxing champ and daughter of Muhammad Ali, Laila Ali, Olympic gold medalist Picabo Street, former NFL player Terry Crews, The Biggest Loser trainer Dolvett Quince, actor Dean Cain and WWE star Eve Torres will all take part as well. And just to make it a bit more interesting, NBC decided to toss in a four-time champion snowmobile racer: Todd Palin. You may know him better as the husband of former vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

If Todd Palin can survive on a snowmobile in Alaska and make it through his wife’s 2008 campaign, then the 47-year-old grandfather shouldn’t have any difficulties with military exercises.

How about Street, if she can win gold skiing in 1998, why can’t she take the top prize in a military TV show in 2012?

And Quince has made a career telling yelling at contestants, even describing himself as an “in-your-face, never distracted, always focused drill sergeant.” He can certainly take the advice of an actual drill sergeant then.

Ali’s last fight was more than five years ago, but she has her father’s blood. A little military exercise isn’t going to keep her down.

Dean Cain played Superman in the mid-90s, so how can he not be the favorite, even if he’s nearly 46 years old.

Hosting the show (oddly enough) will be retired General Wesley Clark, who was the Supreme Allied Commander Europe for NATO from 1997 to 2000 and a Democratic presidential candidate in 2004.

But Clark is not who the competitors should be worried about. It’s the challenges. After all, Lachey and Palin are just as fit to drop from a helicopter as Quince and Ali are, right?

Sounds like a fair fight to me.

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Danny Vinik is an intern at the Washington Monthly.
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