Amy Grant, Wish Granter

The Christian music star's new TV series 'Three Wishes' aims to help the needy, celebrate small-town America--and make you cry.

Reality TV may be better known for debauchery than devotion, but here comes Amy Grant to class up the joint.

The singer, best known for a Christian music career spanning more than a quarter of a century, is starring in the new NBC series "Three Wishes" (Fridays at 9 pm /8 pm Central time). The formula for the show is straightforward: Grant and crew roll into a small town, set up a large tent, and a huge throng of people show up, each with a wish, a need they're seeking to be fulfilled. Producers choose three wishes to tackle each week--three sob-inducing, heartstring-pulling, mercy-demanding, altruism-inducing wishes.

Wish-granter is a role Grant has been priming for her whole life, she said in a recent conference call with the media.

"I have never in my life felt so equipped for a job, ever," Grant says she told her mother after landing the gig. "I've never walked into a recording studio and felt like I was completely adequate for the job, ever. Because I don't have a very high range and I can't do a lot of vocal tricks.... But with this, I just felt very equipped, and it was great."

She is well aware of reality TV's



image-- "Temptation Island" anyone?--but believes "Three Wishes" bucks the trend. And, she says, she's not the only one who thinks that.

"Some of the people [who work on 'Three Wishes'] have worked on other reality shows, and I think we even have some people in the crew from 'Survivor,' and it's very typical for somebody to show up at their first day of work [on 'Three Wishes'] and go, 'Oh, thank goodness, a guilt-free job,'" she says. "Not every reality show could feel like that."

But while sex and scheming reign on reality shows like "Survivor" and "The Bachelor," there is a growing genre of programs that play to the heartstrings, with benevolent networks helping the needy fulfill their dreams (with an assist, always, from ubiquitous product placement). "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" comes to mind: the show builds new homes for worthy families, many of whom have disabled or sick children. Each home is tailored to the family's special needs, with plenty of frills and amenities thrown in, of course. The show seems to focus on--and play up--ever-more tragic stories every week; it's not just a new home, it's a new life for a well-deserving, wholesome family to whom life has dealt a cruel set of cards.

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