TLC reality show looks for America's next great inspirational speaker

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SILVER SPRING, Md. — Reality TV and the Sunday sermon will meld on the little screen July 23 with the debut of the eight-part series "The Messengers."

The two-hour program, which premiers July 23 on The Learning Channel, showcases 10 speakers from a variety of perspectives and their ability to communicate the many dimensions and complexities of some of life's toughest lessons, addressing issues viewers face in their everyday lives and communities. In the end, The Messengers is built around a simple but lofty goal: to find America's next great inspirational speaker.

"The Messengers is an innovative and uplifting series with challenging individual experiences that act as a catalyst for the celebration of inspirational public speaking in contemporary America. The participants really have to walk the walk before they can talk the talk," said David Abraham, executive vice president and general manager for TLC.

Panelists for the program will be Bobby Schuller, a pastor at the Crystal Cathedral in Southern California and grandson of Reverend Robert H. Schuller, and Richard Greene, author of Words That Shook The World and a speech advisor and public speaking analyst.

Schuller will focus his guidance on the content and emotional connection the speakers make with the studio audience, while Greene will give the speakers constructive guidance on their delivery, technique and content development.

The foundation of each episode is a field trip designed to give the speakers a profound learning experience—the opportunity to live life by walking in someone else's shoes. In the first episode, the participants face the harsh reality of homelessness by spending 24 hours on the streets of Skid Row and then deliver speeches based on the topic of charity.

In subsequent episodes, field trips range from the participants living as a blind or wheelchair-bound individual for a day, to sharing in a powerful moment of forgiveness between a man convicted of vehicular homicide and the deceased's mother.

At the end of each field trip, the group is given their speaking topic—one simple word such as hope, perseverance or forgiveness to use as the basis for their speeches.

Over the next 24 hours, the speakers blend their in-field experiences with their own life lessons to create powerful speeches of motivation for a studio audience.

At the conclusion of each episode, one person is eliminated by the studio audience's vote until one speaker is crowned "The Messenger" and awarded a publishing deal and the opportunity to host his or her own TLC television special.

The Messengers is produced by Original Productions with executive producers Thom Beers and Tom McMahon and series producer Deboriah Dupree. For TLC, Elizabeth Browde is executive producer and David Abraham is executive-in-charge of production and general manager.

The show will air Sundays at 10 p.m.

Published, July 2006