There are a ton of Irish-themed events taking place all over the world and, most likely, in your neck of the woods today.

But how’s this for a way to spread the St. Patrick’s Day green in a somewhat different way?

Image: Saint Angel via Flickr, CC 2.0

Zodiak USA, a production firm (one of the shows they produce is ABC’s Secret Millionaire, which I’ve never watched), is gearing up for an American edition of How The Other Half Live, a British documentary series.

If you’re not familiar with it (and there’s no reason you should be, especially if you’re not in the U.K.), this is the outline:

A wealthy family (with kids) is given the opportunity to help a poor family (with kids) – a family living below the poverty line.

TV cameras follow them around to see what happens, and a show is born.

And the entire episode is narrated in the voice of the kids in each of the homes.

I know.

You’re probably thinking, “Ok. Yet another reality show.”

When I first heard about it, that’s what I thought as well.

But then Julia Jenkins, the casting producer who’d reached out to me, sent me a link to one of the British episodes.

I couldn’t stop watching it.

In her initial note, Julia wrote:

“As with the British version of the show, we hope that when the families meet they will forge genuine relationships, through which they can explore their different viewpoints and experiences.

“Moreover, by having the opportunity to meet one another, the children will have an opportunity to make friends with children from different economic, social or cultural backgrounds and who, under normal circumstances, they would be unlikely to meet and befriend.

“Our aim is to present a fair and balanced view of each family’s experience, in the hope of breaking down cultural and economic stereotypes.

“Fundamentally, this is a family project in which, by exploring family life through the eyes of the children, we will give those children a voice.”

What I really liked about the British show was how honest it felt.

Photo © Zodiak TV, used with permission

It was understated (though that might be because that’s such a British characteristic) and touching in its simplicity.

I couldn’t help but be moved by what was going on with the “poor” family, and I was struck by how sincere the “rich” one was.

Given how Americanized versions of British shows are invariably kitschier than their Anglo predecessors, I just hope that the U.S. version doesn’t go the same way.

But, to get back to spreading the green:

Zodiak needs to find two American families – at the opposite ends of the economic spectrum – to be featured in the documentary.

  1. They’re looking for “wealthy families that have a passion for philanthropy and that would be happy to sponsor a family facing hardship, and/or families that are struggling to make ends meet and could use some help to get back on their feet.”
  2. The families need to be in the New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and/or Pennsylvania areas – so pretty much northeast.
  3. As is typical in television production, they’re also on a really tight deadline.

So if you know of any such families – maybe through a client, a board member of your organization, or through your personal experiences – will you contact Julia and let her know, please?

You could even forward this blog post to anyone you think might be interested, or be interested in spreading the word, and ask them to share it.

Disclosure and incentive:

Zodiak is apparently working on a finder/referral fee for people who help cast a family that make it to the show.

I don’t know the details of it, but since there’s a wee chance this blog post could qualify, you should know of it… and you should know of it for yourself too!

But I’m not sharing this information because of a possible fee.

I’m sharing it because I really liked the episode I watched, and if I can help, even in an indirect way (without any fee) to get a family that’s down on their luck back up again, I’ll feel like I made a difference.

That’s the real reward, don’t you think?