When motivational guru Tony Robbins debuts his powerful new NBC “Breakthrough With Tony Robbins” reality show July 27, viewers will see such astonishing stories as that of a man who broke his neck at his own wedding reception and became a quadriplegic – who discovers he can still have a full life through a string of challenges that includes skydiving over Fiji. He and his wife…well, have the Kleenex ready.
Robbins tells us that there was so much more story to each of the six hour-long shows he’s prepared, “We’re going to do a ‘Breakthrough’ Insider kind of site. These were 30-day journeys, and so much more happened than we can show.”
Indeed. Late legendary basketball coach John Wooden gave his final pep talk to a single athlete — Juaquin Hawkins, once known as the Oldest Rookie in the NBA, who in 2008 suffered a stroke that ended his career and left him unable to speak. Wooden’s meeting with Hawkins was part of Robbins’ plan to help him find his way to a new life.
“It was the last thing John Wooden taped, and it’s not even on the show,” says Robbins. It will be on the website.
So will the behind-the-scenes saga of the tragedy-touched wedding couple, Frank and Kristen Alioto, who are seen in the premiere, and their harrowing trip to Fiji. According to Robbins, it took some doing to even convince them to leave their house, she was so worried about his seemingly-fragile state. “They’ve become dear friends,” he says. “They sent me a message: ‘Guess where we are? Camping.’”
Not surprisingly, Robbins says he’s been approached numerous times about doing a reality show through the years. He warmed to the idea as the economy got ugly. On a “Today” show appearance, he found himself with three minutes to impart wisdom on how to cope. He wanted a better way.
“I’m not one for b.s. positive thinking, but showing people whose life is slammed, step-by-step how they can turn it around – no matter how tough your life is.” He has two executive producers from “The Biggest Loser” and one from “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” with him on “Breakthrough.”
With his crammed schedule of 50-hour seminars around the world, prison work and other service activities — in addition to 12 companies — Robbins says he’ll have to find a way to clear time to do more shows. “If the audience is there, we’ll do more next year.”
THE BIG SCREEN SCENE: A November release is now being plotted for “Queen of the Lot,” as in the sequel to Henry Jaglom’s popular “Hollywood Dreams” of 2006. That’s the word from Tanna Frederick, who plays that queen: Iowa girl Margie Chizek-turned-starlet Maggie Chase. Sounds as if the parody could have been ripped from recent headlines, as Tanna reports the new film will find our not-so-happy heroine “wearing an ankle bracelet on house arrest.” She’s made three action films, “but she’s angry. She thinks her career sucks because she wants to be making serious films.” “Queen of the Lot” also has Noah Wyle, Mary Crosby, Peter Bogdanovich and other Hollywood players doing cameos as themselves.
AN ALIEN EXPERIENCE: With an August start date looming for the Will Smith-Tommy Lee Jones “Men in Black III,” filmmakers are still looking for someone to play Andy Warhol in the off-the-wall sci fi tale – that involves time-travel back to the 1960s. Warhol is no mere cameo, we understand, but actually helps Agents K and J in their quest to save the world from an evil dude named Yaz (yes, he’s named after the problematic birth control brand) to be played by Jemaine Clement. Josh Brolin plays a younger version of Jones’ Agent K, who’ll be working with today’s Agent J. Got that? Judy Dench is in as M. ‘Sixties era celeb look-alikes and hippies will populate the flick – many of whom will be revealed as aliens.
ANOTHER ALIEN EXPERIENCE: Talk about a heretofore unexplored world for the movies. “Joy Luck Club” producer Janet Yang is preparing an indie film about expatriate Chinese Americans adapting to life in Shanghai, called “Americatown.” Characters include Sam, who is sent by his U.S. company to head up their Shanghai office, makes blunder after blunder, and discovers “the home he’s always longed for is nothing like what he imagined” (per casting notices). Also: Sam’s English-speaking assistant, Fang-Fang; a Caucasian Southerner named Donald; and “Kung Pao Pete,” a local who is fluent in Chinese, French, English and Japanese.