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It's said that truth can be stranger than fiction, so local curiosity seekers may not be surprised that Sacramento Kings guard Doug Christie and his wife, Jackie, may land in the expanding world of reality television.
The couple's marriage may be unique in the world of professional sports in that Jackie is rarely far from her well-traveled husband's side, even during a brawl with the rival Los Angeles Lakers.
The Christies say they plan to reveal considerably more about their relationship, family and way of life in a proposed reality television show on pop music network VH1. A deal between the Christies and the network is not final, but talks are progressing, both sides confirmed.
Jackie Christie said a friend from another network initially contacted her last summer about the project. "After Doug and I talked about it, we decided to do it," she said. "They started filming a practice part of it in December, and they'll start filming the actual part of it on January 11th."
Jackie Christie said clearance has been received from the National Basketball Association. The VH1 crews, she said, are expected to be with their family for a few months.
Vanessa Reyes, a spokeswoman in VH1's Los Angeles office, said Tuesday that a deal with the Christies is still in the "developmental stage - nothing has been finalized." Plus, until a contract is signed, she added, the show is "not a guarantee."
"So many of these things fall through - that's just the way the industry works," Reyes said.
If the Christies do make it to the small screen, their show will join a legion of such shows that began flooding the airwaves after the success of the pioneering "Survivor." Seemingly every network has at least one reality-based show, from Donald Trump's "The Apprentice" on NBC to Fox's ode to the decline of Western civilization, "Who's Your Daddy."
VH1 and sister station MTV have created something of a cottage industry with reality shows centered around those who are stars, almost famous or certifiably washed-up.
MTV kicked off the trend in 2002 with "The Osbournes," based on rocker Ozzy Osbourne's life with wife Sharon and their kids. The half-hour show became an unlikely hit - pulling in some of the network's best ratings to date - for the way it chronicled the family's remarkably mundane home life.
MTV also had ratings success with - and made bona fide stars of - Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson ("Newlyweds"), Jessica's little sis, Ashlee ("The Ashlee Simpson Show"), and Carmen Electra and Dave Navarro ("Till Death Do Us Part").
VH1 is about to launch its fourth season of "The Surreal Life," which takes C-and-D-list celebs and houses them under the same roof for some wacky, only-in-Hollywood fun.
Reyes would not comment on any details of the proposed Christie show, including how much the couple could be paid, how many episodes might be commissioned, or why a relatively unknown couple - unfamiliar at least to those who don't follow the Kings or the NBA - would be chosen to star in their own reality TV show.
Doug Christie's relationship and unusually open commitment to his wife often garners more attention than his on-court performance. While playing or even sitting on the bench, he signals to her and his family throughout games with a series of gestures, punctuated by raising his left arm. After nearly every game his wife attends, Christie waits for her to come out of the stands and they walk off the floor together.
When he was ejected in a recent game against the Miami Heat at Arco Arena, cameras following his walk to the locker room saw him accompanied through the tunnel by his wife, who had hurried down to meet him.
Jackie Christie travels to a number of Kings games on the team plane.
During an October 2002 exhibition game when a fight erupted between Christie and the Lakers' Rick Fox in a tunnel at Staples Center, she was among the first to rush to her husband's defense.
Such constant contact between a male professional athlete and his wife or companion is extremely rare, and therein lies the curiosity, fascination, and even disdain and ridicule by others regarding the Christies' relationship.
Jackie Christie said she hopes to change misperceptions through the TV show. "I think it was more or less because we can get a positive message out there," she said. "There has been a lot of negative publicity and a lot of misperceptions and misunderstandings about our relationship.
"We want people to know it's cool to be committed and respectful of yourself and your family. We're just happy together the way we do it, and a lot of people misunderstand that and think that he's an athlete and he should act this way or that way."
Elayne Rapping, professor of American Studies at the University of Buffalo and author of several books on media and pop culture, has an inkling of why VH1 finds the Christies attractive.
"They'll take a chance on people whose personalities seem to be somewhat outrageous or have a quality of drama," Rapping said.
Jackie Christie's reputation as a protective, stand-by-her-man wife, unafraid to speak her mind, is a potential ratings bonanza, Rapping said.
The professor added that she had not heard of the Christies - although she was aware of the Kings - prior to a call from a reporter Tuesday. But no matter.
Ozzy Osbourne was more of a niche artist, popular primarily with heavy-metal fans, before "The Osbournes" debuted, Rapping pointed out.
Doug Christie said he doesn't expect a reality show to make him an Hollywood idol. "I'm a hooper," he said. "That's what I do. Other than that I just hang out with the kids."
The Christies have two daughters, Ta'kari and Chantel, and son Douglas Jr.
Doug Christie has a skill and flair for designing men's clothes and this season has been sporting some of his original outfits.
He said there'll be no acting on his part if the television series is made.
"I'm going to get on there and just be me. So if you want to see me, then that's cool.
This has been up for over an hour, and nobody has said " " yet?
Why do the things that we treasure most, slip away in time
Till to the music we grow deaf, to God's beauty blind
Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart?
Till we fall away in our own darkness, a stranger to our own hearts
And life itself, rushing over me
Life itself, the wind in black elms,
Life itself in your heart and in your eyes, I can't make it without you