The one thing viewers can usually rely on in reality TV shows is how little they resemble reality. The Moment, top-rated USA Network’s first foray into the reality TV phenomenon, doesn’t do much to change that stereotype: Nine people get two weeks with a professional to go through what amounts to boot camp in the field of their dreams—ranging from photography to NASCAR driving. If the contestants succeed, they get a job offer.
That’s not a reality most Americans enjoy, but it’s also part of the intended draw: Who wouldn’t want a second chance at their dream job? Watching someone else strive for their dreams, however, is not as exciting as reaching for your own. The show comes up short on drama as contestants compete with themselves instead of other people, but it helps to have a potential Hall of Fame football player hosting the program.
Former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner, 41, hosts The Moment—an obvious hat-tip to Warner’s own story of second chances. Warner signed with the St. Louis Rams in 1998 after spending four years out of the NFL—a period in which he found himself stocking grocery shelves—and a year later he earned his first of two league MVP awards en route to an improbable Super Bowl victory.
Warner, who retired in 2010, told me his story gave him the perfect background to walk with contestants through two weeks of intense training, which inevitably included peaks and valleys. He said he was able to explain “what the possibilities are for them if they continue to push forward,” and he’s often seen giving pep talks using scenarios from his football journey.
Each episode begins with Warner surprising contestants with their new career opportunity (think Ty Pennington on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition). The following two weeks are condensed into an hour-long production, but viewers are still brought to ground level with illustrations of what it takes to succeed at the top of a profession. The professional trainers don’t mince words when telling trainees how they need to improve (think Simon Cowell on American Idol).
The Moment may fall short on action, but suspense isn’t completely absent: Not all contestants earn the job, and not all contestants take the position offered to them. Warner said the point of the show is to reignite the passion for life that most people have lost, and to “get them moving” in the direction of their dreams again.
The Moment contains very little objectionable material and maintains a positive tone throughout, which Warner said was important to him. Despite being unrealistic for most people, it might be inspiring enough to get them to keep watching.
Kurt Warner’s new reality TV show, The Moment, may only give nine people a chance at their dreams, but he’s using it as a springboard to reach “millions of people across the country.” How does he plan to impact so many? Through a ministry called “Make the Moment.”
The ministry is designed to help churches tap into their internal resources and match needs with those who are equipped to meet those needs. Warner, an outspoken Christian, said for himself that may mean coaching a young person with dreams of playing in the NFL, but for dentists in one church it meant donating dental work to former drug addicts whose poor teeth kept them from landing jobs. “That’s really the premise—to make this more of a grass-roots approach,” Warner told me. “There’s a lot of people out there who are in great positions to help other people, they just don’t know how.”
The ministry has launched a website (makethemoment.org) where it explains the program and gives churches the ability to register for a chance to win a visit from Warner. The site also shows the success of one California church, Cathedral of Faith in San Jose, which is helping between 500 and 1,000 people per week with various needs such as food and clothing.
Warner said his passion for helping others stems from his favorite Bible verse, Matthew 6:33 (“Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you”). “Once football was over, my life wasn’t over,” he said. “I knew there was more that God wanted me to accomplish.”