Above: A promo for “Pete Rose: Hits and Mrs.”
For someone who says he’s not comfortable talking about the use of performance-enhancing drugs related to the latest Baseball Hall of Fame balloting, Pete Rose’s eyes light up when he’s admiring his fiancée’s breast augmentations.
“For my birthday, are you going to get a bigger boob job?” Rose asked former Playboy model Kiana Kim during a gathering of media types today at Sisley’s Italian restaurant in Sherman Oaks to promote their new reality show on The Learning Channel.
Kim’s 14-year-old daughter, Cassie, sat within earshot, either ignoring the remark or was too busy texting on her cellphone to notice it.
The six-episode series that debuts with back-to-back shows Sunday is called “Pete Rose: Hits and Mrs.,” but it might as well be a spinoff of the ABC comedy show “Modern Family” – Rose has the part of Ed O’Neal’s Jay Pritchett character, living with the younger trophy wife and trying to explain to his grown children why he isn’t have an end-life crisis.
(Considering Rose’s legal trouble of his past, one sports-talk show host suggested a better title might be “Melons and Felons.”)
“She’s the star of the show – I’m the fill-in,” the 71-year-old Rose says of Kim, reported to be 31 but Rose says he’s never asked her age and she’s never told him.
“I don’t care how old she is, as long as it’s over 19 or 20 — I don’t want to go to jail,” he said. “I was just talking to Larry King about that today.”
This is Rose’s third go-around at marriage, although he apparently has not officially divorced second wife Carol (with him since 1984, with kids Tyler, 28, and Cara, 23). This, after 16 years married to Karolyn (1964-1980) with children Fawn, 48, and Pete Jr., 43.
Rose spends nearly three weeks of each month living in Las Vegas, working at a memorabilia shop signing autographs, while Kim and her children are in Valencia. The family spent six-to-eighth months taping the episodes during last year.
Rose says he’s aware of the backlash that could come from appearing on a reality show in a time where he’s trying to show people in the baseball world that he’s cleaned up his act, admitted to his past indiscretions.
The first episode, “The Family Hustle,” focuses on their engagement party, while episode two, “There’s No Crying In Baseball,” says Rose has “his fathering skills are tested,” according to the network. The rest of the series runs on Monday nights through Jan. 28, where then it will be decided if it’s picked up for another season.
“I think the ratings for the second show will be greater than the first, because they’ll get a chance to see her,” Rose said, pointing to Kim. “The guys will want to see her.”
One episode has the four – including Kim’s 11-year-old son Ashton – during a trip to Cooperstown, N.Y., during the annual induction ceremony. Kim took the kids inside the Hall of Fame to explain to them why Rose had not been inducted, while Rose stayed outside.
One constant storyline through the series, however, is Kim’s breast reduction surgery visits. Rose says at one point, he was in the background motioning with his hands to make them bigger, while she wanted them smaller.
“I didn’t win that fight,” he said, then asked Kim, “What do you call those things?”
“The sisters,” she said.
“I was with them for 4 1/2 years and all of the sudden, we’re not going to have them (as big) any more,” Rose continued. “We talked about it. It’s no problem. She’s still bigger than most girls.”
Rose says he thinks the show will reveal a “different perspective on what kind of guy I am,” not the “aggressive, arrogant baseball player” they’ve seen.
“We really get along, we laugh, enjoy each other no matter what age, where we live, what cultures … we really are a happy couple,” said Kim. “We’re good parents and try to teach them lessons of life. I hope people can relate to it. We have relate-able issues.”
Kim says they’ve got no wedding date set (again, because perhaps they can’t), which may help draw interest in another season of their lives if enough watch this one.
Rose told the New York Post recently that he met Kim at a Mercedes dealership five years ago, and she had no idea who he was. They kept in contact and she invited him to appear at a salon she was opening.
Episodes 1 and 2 air Sunday at 10 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., then repeat Monday at the same time. Episodes 3 and 4 air Jan. 21, with episodes 5 and 6 on Jan. 28.
“Pete is one of sport’s most controversial characters and his life is even more fascinating off the field as it was on,” said Amy Winter, the TLC general manager.
As for how it will compare to other reality shows, Rose said he was recently put off by the surprisingly popular TLC series, “Here Come Honey Boo Boo.”
“I can’t believe how close that family lives to where I grew up (in Cincinnati),” he said. “They’re in Georgia? That’s 500 miles away. That’s too close.”