Mark and Donnie are famous. Now meet Paul and mom Alma in A&E's 'Wahlburgers.'
(Photo: Zach Dilgard)
Mark Wahlbergis a big movie star. And Donnie Wahlberghas made a big name for himself in TV and music.
But Paul Wahlberg?SOURCE
He's the chef, not the star, of the family.
That all changes Wednesday with the premiere of A&E's Wahlburgers (10:30 p.m. ET/PT). The famous guys' older brother, Paul, who is 49 and fifth of the nine Wahlberg children, runs the Wahlburgers restaurant in
Hingham, Mass, and is about to steal a little bit of the spotlight.
The Wahlbergs are part of a new reality show trend: stars sharing their fame with family members. Bruno Mars' sisters just wrapped a season of The Lylas on
WeTV. And that network's Braxton Family Values, which stars singer Toni Braxton— and her sisters — spawned spinoff Tamar and Vince, about the actress/singer and her husband.
This bit of TV nepotism serves two goals: It gives the family a chance to cash in on a celebrity's fame, and it gives networks a promotional hook to lure viewers.
Sometimes, though, having your family on TV can take a toll.
While the Kardashians, the Robertsons (
Duck Dynasty) and the Honey Boo Boofamilies have so far found the fame to be just fine, Clint Eastwood's ex-wife, Dina, starred in Mrs. Eastwood and Company for E!, and when the couple split, Peoplereported that the reality show had driven a wedge into their relationship. The Osbournes became household names with their MTV show, developed around heavy-metal star Ozzy Osbourne. But last year, Ozzy's wife, Sharon, said doing the show was the "biggest mistake" of her life.
Will the same fate befall the Boston Wahlberg clan? "Everything in our life causes arguments," says Paul Wahlberg, sounding baffled as to how TV will change anything. The good part about it all, he says, is that the family spends more time together, allowing the brothers to revert right back to childhood. "We become 10- and 12-year-olds again. We goof around."
Donnie, 44, isn't sweating it, either. "I'm not worried about showing too much of our personal lives. It's only a slice of life, not my entire life," the Blue Bloods star says via e-mail. "And I think it's good for people to get more of a sense of who we are and where we are from."
But it's not always easy for the non-star to suddenly step in front of the camera.
"I could be doing it for 20 years and not be comfortable," Paul insists during a call. The whole fame game is "just not what I do. I've been cooking for 30 years," he says.
When reminded that the show follows the brothers as they look to expand the restaurant business, Paul deadpans, "I can't figure out for the life of me who'd be interested in it. It seems mundane and dull to me."
Donnie Wahlberg has a much more lighthearted attitude about the series. "Why not do it? Life is boring if you take yourself too seriously."
Also stepping into the spotlight is mom Alma, 71. Like Mama June Shannon,
Kris Jennerand Phil Robertson, she's the all-important leader of the family.
"I was very hesitant and nervous at first," she says about being on camera. But her sons persuaded her. "They said, 'You can talk to a wall, Ma. You won't have any trouble.'"
Also in the show is the real Johnny "Drama" Alves, on whom the
Entouragecharacter is based, and Henry "Nacho" Laun, another childhood pal.
For the Wahlbergs, family is everything. But one question, brought up in the first episode, lingers: Each son wants to know which one is Alma's favorite.
"I am Alma's favorite. There is no question about it," Donnie says. "Paul only substitutes when I am out of town. Mark can take solace in the fact that he was our dad's favorite."
Paul says "it depends on who's in the room."
And Alma? "Whoever I'm with at the time," she says. "They're all so unique in their own way. I'm really proud of them. Not just the success, but how they've turned out. They're really good people. I wouldn't care if they were ditchdiggers, as long as they're good people."