With the overwhelming success they've found with a family named Kardashian, E! is hoping lightning strikes twice by pairing up the new season of "Keeping Up With The Kardashians" with "Mrs. Eastwood & Company." In this series, Dina Eastwood, wife to iconic actor/director Clint Eastwood, takes center stage along with Eastwood children Morgan and Francesca as well as the boy band, Overtone, that she discovered and is currently managing. Last week's premiere episode scored over one million viewers following the "Kardashians" season premiere and viewers can expect more comedy and drama as the series continues to air.
Our Jim Halterman grabbed some time with Dina Eastwood recently to talk about why the Eastwoods are different from that other TV family, what made her bring a South African boy band to the States and her reasoning behind getting a belly button piercing to prove a point to her teenage daughter.
Jim Halterman: Between the kids, your busy husband, the band, the animals at your house, it seems like a perfect setting for a reality show, right?
Dina Eastwood: You know, I guess I thought so in a moment of insanity. When I pitched the show, it was sold to Bunim/Murray, the production company, and was just the band and me as their manager, we were the only characters. The original show concept was about these six guys coming to this country and how insane it all was. We got in a car accident, I ended up in the ER getting stitches and the next day it was something else and my friend and I were taping them the whole time so I thought it was a really fun show and I started pitching it as such. The pilot got a little bit of traction but then didn't go anywhere. Then somehow our beloved attorney, who's been with us for free for two years and is finally getting paid, she took it to Bunim/Murray and they loved it. I walked in with those boys and we'd been on a roadtrip and looked like crap and they sang and the head guy, Jeff Jenkins, said 'I get it! I like it."
So I had these guys, me and my brother [Dominic] and we were doing these preliminary interviews to get to know the characters and there were no girls and I'm obviously double the age of a girl that E! would want - they didn't say that but I know that in the TV world - and I said you should meet my kids, I have really funny kids and they said 'Bring them in!' I brought in a load of Eastwood children and they all interviewed, they all went on camera and Jeff Jenkins was like, 'Oh, my God, you're kidding me!' Some of the kids wanted to do it, some didn't and this is what the project boils down to.
JH: It's impossible not to compare the show to the Kardashians since that's another family we know in the reality setting. Do you see that as a plus to be compared to them?
DE: I think it's a total plus. Just to be lumped in with them is huge in so many ways. But if the viewer tune in thinking that we're similar, the viewer is going to be disappointed just like I say if viewers tune in to get an in-depth look at Clint Eastwood they're going to be disappointed. The way we live is quite different. The similarities with it being an extended family with a strong mama at the helm is similar but I think the day-to-day is quite different. We are low-key and there's a whole episode where I don't want the kids carrying around [designer] labels. There's not a lot of flash and glamour in our family. The fact that the Kardashians are glamorous is their trademark and it's awesome. Why people would rather take to us because we're so average, I don't know if that's a draw or a turn off. We'll have to see!
JH: Let's talk about the band, Overtone, who you found in South Africa. What was it about them that made them so special that you took them under your wing in such a big way?
DE: I probably had never heard an a capella band before and each person is a lead singer and the show that they constructed was so moving. People were crying in the audience and I cried at one point. My husband was quivering when I brought him to see them three days later. It was like seeing a new genre that you'd never seen and there were seven of them and their talent struck me I said if I could ever help I'd love to. I was actually throwing myself a going away party from Cape Town (South Africa) because we'd been there for awhile and my daughter was getting so homesick, she was twelve, and was missing seventh grade and I said we'd go home and we decided to have a girls' night out. That's how I saw them.
I had them do a private show for Clint and the cast and crew of 'Invictus' three days later. They were going to break up after that and head back to Johannesburg. So these poor kids walked in to Matt Damon, Morgan Freeman and Clint Eastwood and, I swear to God, this is cheesy, but I said the world has to see this and I left it at that. They were extras in Clint's movie and they had signed up for that way before we met them. They were extras in Johannesburg and I told Clint that those cute boys that played for us were in the crowd and he should say hi to them. He did and while he did that he said 'Hey, why don't you record a demo for me?' because I've been playing their CD in the hotel room nonstop. He doesn't talk much about that but he approached them and they ended up doing all the vocals for the soundtrack, eight songs.
JH: You had a belly button ring put in to prove a point to your daughter in the premiere episode and it actually worked because she didn't want one after that!
DE: What an idiot I am! So she didn't care about the pain and then I got in the car and it snagged on my shirt and then it wouldn't stop bleeding. Then the second she saw the blood...was her expression not priceless? She was traumatized! We took it out an hour later and then I had to call Clint and he doesn't like piercings and tatts. He thinks you're perfect the way you are and loves natural everything. He's that kind of guy. I said 'I got my belly button pierced on the show' and he said 'You're out of control.' I did do it and it changed her mind. All I'm trying to do is get her to hold off until she is 18 because I truly believe once you're 18 you can do what you want. Look at Francesca! She's not wearing clothes in half the scenes. What can I do?
JH: Speaking of Francesca, there's a little baby talk when she spends time with your brother's baby. Is that part of what we see with her this year, thinking of having a baby?
DE: Frannie hates babies. She always had. She thinks they're crazy. She doesn't want kids but I think she's more keen on marrying this guy. She's 18. A mother's dream that your daughter gets married at 18! [laughs] But I seriously just roll with it. In the season, I will tell you that I get in my biggest fight of my adult life with [Francesca's boyfriend] Tyler. It's nasty and a gnarly fight. It gets really ugly and it has nothing to do with shooting and cameras. it was really traumatizing for me. But he was a gentleman and we've gotten past it but I just hope it works out. They're in a really healthy relationship and they're crazy about each other and why would I argue that so I don't.
JH: What else do we see this season?
DE: We see the first bump it the road for the lead singer [Emile] and his girlfriend and it's huge! You will see the band meet with probably the most famous manager in the country. Johnny Wright. You'll see Francesca make a very large life move that makes me go through quite a tailspin and it's not about marriage or kids. A lot of crying from me and I have to tell you I'm not a crier! I was really like, 'Am I going crazy or what?' We all decided, including Bunim/Murray, that this is like reality on acid. Weird stuff occurs and that's why reality shows exist because there's some weird thing that happens when a cameras is rolling. But we all turned out closer for it. We're all just as tight as ever.
JH: How do people find out more about Overtone and find their music?
DE: OvertoneBand.com is our website and we're also on iTunes. The previous CDs, the a capella CD, the soundtrack to 'Invictus'... there's tons of music on iTunes. We're also on Amazon.com. We have a real internet presence. They're all over Facebook and Twitter.
"Mrs. Eastwood & Company" airs Sundays at 10:00/9:00c after "Keeping Up With The Kardashians" on E!