TOMMY LEE's Reality TV Series Is Less Hardcore Than 'Fear Factor'

Maggie Stehr of the Daily Nebraskan is reporting that University of Nebraska-Lincoln spokesman Dave Fitzgibbon flew out to Burbank, Calif., in January to see rough edits of MÖTLEY CRÜE drummer Tommy Lee's upcoming reality TV series, "Tommy Lee Goes to College", which documents Lee's semester-long stint at UNL.

"Tommy Lee Goes to College" premieres Aug. 9 from 8:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on NBC.

Each of the six half-hour episodes will air as a part of NBC's summer lineup, but the later start date opens the show up to fall's larger audiences.

With sweeping shots of campus and the city, Fitzgibbon said the show sheds positive light on the university and portrays Lincoln as a bustling nightlife hotspot.

Alan Cerveny, dean of admissions, said the reality show would rid UNL of its corn-fed football stereotype.

Because the university hopes to develop more national markets and reach out to out-of-state students to flush out future freshman classes, six prime-time network TV spots are valuable advertising, he said.

"Lots of students don't know where the University of Nebraska is," Cerveny said. "They assume it is in some rural area, surrounded by cornfields. They don't know it is the second-largest city in the Big 12."

But not everyone was as enthusiastic to host Lee for his stay.

Campus groups and city leaders criticized the university for its decision to pair up with Lee's bad-boy reputation. The rocker, twice divorced and a single father of two boys, served a three-month jail sentence in 1998 for domestic abuse to then-wife Pamela Anderson and took on-and-off visits to rehab for drug addiction.

"People thought it was a bad idea, but as weeks progressed, the complaints dropped," Fitzgibbon said. "It was a risk, but I think people will be pleased."

The university, he said, is the backdrop to the show's jabs at Lee, rather than the butt of the jokes.

The fish-out-of-water series captures the aging rocker navigating through college's challenges — performing at football game halftime shows and cramming for tests.

Fitzgibbon said he and his children would be tuning in to NBC in August to watch Lee's PG-rated hi-jinks unfold.

Fitzgibbon called his 9-year-old's favorite show, NBC's "Fear Factor", more hardcore than Lee's reality show.

"It is a campy, funny comedy that happens to be set at the University of Nebraska," he said of the show.

Because the comedy's target audience also is UNL's targeted recruiting pool, the show could improve the university's slumping enrollment, Cerveny said.

"I can't begin to describe the amount of attention it will receive," he said. "I understand it is a comedy, but if it's well done, it could be great for the university. We will be paying close attention. I am waiting like everyone to see the first episode."

Although the national audience could prove fruitful for UNL, Fitzgibbon said measuring the show's effect on enrollment would be no easy task.

"It will get Nebraska on the radar screen," Fitzgibbon said. "But who knows why a student will come to (UNL) in the future. Is it because of a TV show? Is it because the admissions folks made a good contact? There are a million reasons a student makes a decision to go to a university."


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