The Kardashians: The Bradys Meet Reality TV

The H'wood clan's unconventional family values have reality TV viewers hooked.


Nov. 20, 2007 — -- Here's the story of a lovely lady …

Who married a former Olympian, melded her family of four with his clan of kids, added two more children to the brood and is now helping her daughter turn a sex tape scandal into a shot at stardom.

Meet the Kardashian-Jenners -- the latest in a slew of celebrity families to invite cameras and the voyeuristic public into their homes.

At the helm of this Hollywood-blended family is Kris Jenner, who was the wife of former O.J. Simpson friend and lawyer Robert Kardashian. After they divorced 16 years ago, she married Olympic decathlete Bruce Jenner. Together they ride herd over Kim, 27; Khloe, 23; Kourtney, 28; and Rob Karadashian, 20 -- Kris' grown kids from her first marriage -- along with Kylie and Kendall Jenner, her 9- and 11-year-old daughters with Bruce.

The family's E! series, "Keeping Up With the Kardashians," is the "Brady Bunch" for this age of TMZ and reality TV. But the trials and tribulations of this blended family aren't at all like the spats between Jan and Marcia or Peter and Greg.

There's Kris and Kim (star of the aforementioned sex tape, made four years ago with a former boyfriend who released it publicly earlier this year) debating whether Kim should pose nude in Playboy, Bruce prying Kylie and Kendall off the stripper pole in his bedroom, and Khloe spending a night in jail for DUI.

"They're slightly unconventional as a family," said Ryan Seacrest, who pitched the show to E! and serves as its executive producer. "It's as if the Brady Bunch had no ceiling floor or walls -- kind of turned upside-down."

Take the Playboy shoot. Like a stage mom coaching a budding pageant queen, Kris pushed Kim to tone up and strip down for Playboy's annual celebrity issue. While some mothers might check themselves into the Britney Spears school of parenting before encouraging their daughter to pose nude, Kris said she advocated the Playboy shoot for business reasons -- not only is she Kim's mom, she's also her manager, or as she calls it, her "momager."

"The obvious choice would be to say no," Kris said about the Playboy shoot, which was offered to Kim multiple times after her sex tape made the rounds. "But then again, I thought … let's show you in the light in which you want to be seen. This is allowing you to be you and how you want people to see you."

How does Kim say she wants people to see her? Dolled up, seductively posed, wearing nothing but a smile and a few strands of pearls. But at home, fully clothed, the sex kitten turns big sister and chills on the couch with her family. She party hops but not as much as pal Paris Hilton.

Despite her foray into the fringes of stardom, Kim's priorities are decidedly down to earth. She just wants to meet a man and have some kids of her own.

"In 10 years, I see myself married with kids and success to me is just that," she said. "When I find the one that I'm going to settle down with. Doing a reality show with my family is just having a good time."

Often that good time is had at the expense of dad Bruce. While his wife and daughters gallivant to beachside photo shoots, talk show interviews and Hollywood hot spots, he shakes his head, shrugs his shoulders, and seems to wonder how he got wrapped up in this fame-obsessed family.

"Part of the charm and fun of the show is that it's always like, 'Oh my God, we're going to have to tell dad. Oh my God, what will he think?'" said reality TV vet Jon Murray, who's executive producer on the show along with Seacrest. "There's always that bit of dramatic tension of wanting to please Bruce but not always doing things the way he'd like them to be done."

"Keeping Up With the Kardashians" wraps its first season Dec. 2, and the family has signed on for another batch of episodes to air in 2008. It is one of the most popular shows on E!, with 17 million viewers (cumulative) after five weeks on the air. And while the spotlight hasn't always been friendly to Kim and the rest of her clan, Kris relishes the attention. She swears it does the family good.

"Somebody's going to pay us money to spend time for four months locked in a house with our family? I'm in," she said. "And I would recommend that to anyone who's having family issues -- it's the best therapy in the world. Go in your house for 18 hours a day for four or five months, and you can work anything out."

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