‘Stars Earn Stripes’: Todd Palin and Mark Burnett discuss the NBC show’s ‘operatives’
By Kate O’Hare
July 2, 2012 2:28 PM ET
On Monday, Aug. 13, NBC launches “Stars Earn Stripes,” a reality-competition series from reality mogul Mark Burnett and “Law & Order” creator Dick Wolf. It pairs celebrities with military veterans and first responders, who train them for simulated missions in a contest to benefit national veterans, service and first-responder charities.
Think of it as “Dancing With Guns (and Choppers).”
The show’s hosts are General Wesley Clark (Retired, former Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO and one-time presidential hopeful) and TV personality Samantha Harris (“Dancing With the Stars,” “Entertainment Tonight”).
The celebrities are boxer (and “Dancing With the Stars” competitor) Laila Ali, actor and former NFL player Terry Crews, singer and TV host Nick Lachey (“The Sing-Off”), four-time Iron Dog Snowmobile Race champion Todd Palin (husband of former Alaska Governor and 2008 GOP vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, with whom he appeared in Burnett’s TLC reality show “Sarah Palin’s Alaska”), actor Dean Cain, Olympic gold-medal skier Picabo Street, “The Biggest Loser” trainer Dolvett Quince and pro wrestler Eve Torres.
“I’m a little sore,” Palin tells Zap2it, calling in from his Arizona home, hours before flying back to Alaska to return to commercial fishing.
Asked what he did for the show — which just finished filming — Palin says, “You name it, jumping out of helicopters, running, rappelling walls, shooting all kinds of weapons. It was just insane.”
Today, NBC announces the operatives who worked with the celebrities. They are:
- Dale Comstock, who served with the United States Army’s 3rd Special Forces Group (Green Beret) and the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment — Delta (Delta Force).
- J.W. Cortes, a former United States Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant and veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom; currently a New York City MTA Police Department officer.
- Brent Gleeson, former United States Navy SEAL stationed at SEAL Team Five.
- Chris Kyle (nickname “The Devil of Ramadi”), former U.S. Navy SEAL and author of “American Sniper.”
- Andrew McLaren, a former U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant, who served in Iraq and Liberia.
- Grady Powell, a former U.S. Amy Green Beret.
- Tom Stroup, a SWAT Commander for the Orange County (Fla.) Sheriffs Office.
- Talon Smith, an active-duty U.S. Navy Corpsman and actor (“Friday Night Lights”); recently returned from deployment in Afghanistan, he’s currently stationed at Camp Pendleton in Southern California.
“As you know,” says Burnett, “I am a veteran and served in the [British Army] Parachute Regiments. I love the military. What this show is, and what you’ll see, is a love letter, in a fun way, to those who protect and serve us, showing how hard it is to do their job.
“The takeaway for the public is the fascination with Green Berets and Delta Force and SEALs, and now they get to meet some of them up close and personal, watch them train celebrities and then do missions side-by-side.”