By Kate O'Hare
If "Survivor" reality impresario Mark Burnett and "Law & Order" creator Dick Wolf joined forces, what show would they produce? Perhaps a wilderness adventure show featuring New York detectives?
Close, but not quite.
On Monday, Aug. 13, NBC premieres "Stars Earn Stripes," which is indeed an action-packed adventure competition that takes place mostly in the outdoors -- and has a police officer -- but it's really a love letter to the first responders and the American military, including Army Green Berets and Navy SEALs.
It pairs celebrities -- skier Picabo Street, WWE Diva Eve Torres, actor Dean Cain, boxer and fitness expert Laila Ali, trainer Dolvett Quince, singer Nick Lachey, NFL veteran and actor Terry Crews, and four-time Iron Dog snowmobile race champion Todd Palin -- with retired and current military and first responders.
With hosts Samantha Harris and retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark, the teams embark from a remote training facility on complicated missions inspired by real military exercises. The goal is to earn cash prizes for a military, veterans or first-responder charity.
"They're very impressive and supercool people," Burnett tells Zap2it. "A lot of the time, we read stories about Green Berets or bomb disposal or SEALs or SWAT cops, but you never hear from them. You hear someone saying something about them, but now you get to meet and get to know them. You see them as well through the eyes of these celebrities who they are training."
"I'm always up for a challenge," says Palin. "I've lived life on the edge in most of my activities -- lifelong commercial fisherman, that's dangerous. Iron Dog snowmobile racer, that's dangerous. I'm a private pilot; that's dangerous. I worked on the oil fields on the North Slope for all my career; that's dangerous.
"Some of this stuff that we did, it made me cross that line -- jumping out of a helicopter, relying on a 3/4-inch line to keep me alive. The stuff that I do that's dangerous, I'm in control of. I'm in control of how close I want to get to the edge. This stuff here is like, 'Jump!' 'Uh, OK.'"