Expect to see members of “Team Tuohy” out en force to support Sandra Bullock at the premiere of her new action comedy flick, “The Heat,” May 26. That’s the word from the Tennessee and Mississippi-bred blond dynamo known as Leigh Anne Tuohy, whom Bullock portrayed to Oscar-winning excellence in 2009’s “The Blind Side.” Since then, they’ve remained close pals — though it’s only rarely that the public gets a glimpse of that closeness, such as when Bullock was on hand to cheer with the Tuohys at this year’s Super Bowl, when son Michael Oher and the rest of the Baltimore Ravens won.
Lately, it’s been Bullock lending her support as Leigh Anne prepares to launch her new “Family Addition With Leigh Anne Tuohy” reality show centered on fostering and adoption of children.
“She has held my hand through every episode. She gave a wink and nod with every family,” Leigh Anne tells us. “I just spent five hours layin’ side by side with her on a couch Thursday night, talking about it. I couldn’t ask for a better friend. She is an amazing lady and I’m still humbled and honored that God connected us, because it’s a powerful relationship.”
The series follows some pretty extraordinary families across the nation who are fostering children and are on the verge of adoption — families the show tries to help, whether in terms of redoing homes, finding jobs, or coping with the system. In a couple of instances, the show’s cameras have been in court when a child became a permanent part of a new family.
Leigh Anne is adamant that foster care in the U.S. is fixable. “There are a lot of different situations that aren’t manageable; this one is,” she declares. “The average citizen can get involved and make a difference. There are 400,000 kids in the foster care system. We have 450,000 faith-based organizations in this country. If every faith-based organization would get off their butts and place one kid in a loving home, we would wipe out the need for foster care.”
Leigh Anne says that she and her family “are very cognizant that we have been granted stewardship of a message, that there are Michael Ohers in every nook and cranny of this country — and every night we go to bed and think, ‘Wow, if someone who is as immensely valuable as Michael almost slipped through the cracks, imagine who gets left behind?’ So our goal and desire is to make sure people know there are no unwanted kids, just unfound families. How do we hook ’em up? How do we make a difference? Because we know when you invest in a kid’s life what can happen.”
Asked whether she’s ever concerned over the possibility of exploiting youngsters already in difficult straits for the sake of a TV show, she replies, “We’re never going to put a kid in a bad situation. I would never do that. That’s not who we are. We’re doing this for their benefit. Some of these kids, the system is trying to take them away from a loving family. And if we’re at the point where we have to tell a little bit of their back story in order to accomplish our goals, I’m going to say, ‘You’re going to have to put on your big boy pants today, because we’ve got to go through this river to get to the other side, to make a difference in your life.'”
Six episodes of “Family Addition” are already in the can, and Leigh Anne says that so far, she’s had positive experiences with the production — or, as she puts it, “It’s all cupcakes and cartweels.” The only negative is going away: the GMC network name “is going to be changed to UP — because GMC is such a bad name.” In fact, Leigh Anne so dislikes the name GMC, she pressed for the name change to take place in time for “Family Addition’s” launch rather than in fall as originally planned.
Come June, “We’re going to get on social media loud and proud in advance of the first air date June 7,” she promises. “I’ll get my boys tweeting and Facebooking and everything else.”
Her daughter Collins will be seen on the show. Son S.J. came in for an afternoon. As for Michael, who was occupied with NFL chores during shooting, Leigh Anne says, “My goal will be if we get this picked up that we can get him for an episode before July 24 or whatever day they go back to camp — or we go up to Baltimore where he is and get him involved in it.”