Forget Duck Dynasty. The Texas Mega-Pastor, Ed Young, Jr., is poised to have his own show. He’s got everything else, so why not? Written by my friend, Christopher Wynn, for FD Lux (part of the Dallas Morning News):
Welcome to the heightened reality that is life with the Youngs. Go ahead and compare them to a Christianized version of a certain other well-funded, camera-friendly family: the Kardashians. It is unavoidable — especially when you learn the Youngs are in talks to star in their own reality show. Last month, an L.A. producer pitched the project to A&E; meetings with other networks are scheduled. “We have not signed anything,” says Ed, stylish in a gray-and-plaid reversible shirt. Ed’s youthful appearance, at 52, aided by his constantly changing hair color and hairstyle, have made him a target for cosmetic-surgery chatter online. (He says he has tried only Botox.)
The Youngs have been approached repeatedly over the years to do a show, and they feel comfortable enough with this producer and the production company to consider it — cautiously. The show’s angle is how the family says it lives out a message of God’s love. (Bonus ratings if there are any train wrecks along the way.) “If we would have some sort of guidance over editing” of the footage, Ed says, sounding both savvy and naive, “I don’t mind showing anybody anything.”
All of the requisite glossy ingredients are in place for a show. First, there is the setting. The Youngs’ palatial manor — 7,100 square feet, arched windows, Spanish-tile roof — is a glamorous backdrop. Inside, the soaring ceilings and graciously sized rooms are both attractive to look at and ample enough to accommodate a camera crew. Photogenic details abound. In the formal living room is perhaps the ultimate coffee-table book: a bedazzling Bible. The heavy tome is adorned with ornate metal trim and costume emeralds, a gift from designer Kimberly Wolcott, whose jeweled crosses and Bibles are sold at Neiman Marcus. The walls and ornate woodwork in Ed’s study, where he writes, reads and prays, are painted a striking peacock blue. On one wall are two mounted fish, caught during Ed’s many saltwater fly-fishing trips. Over the mantel is a striking portrait of Jesus Christ. Ed sketched it with pencil, then painted it in, onstage, during an Easter service. (He is a capable artist, as are several members of his extended family.) Like the portrait? Prints of Ed’s Jesus are stacked up for sale at The Source, Fellowship’s bookstore and coffee shop at the Grapevine campus.
Next, there is the telegenic family and requisite quirky entourage. Ed and Lisa each have personal assistants to help them manage their growing empire of churches, media projects, speaking engagements and outreach work. Ed’s assistant, Renee Wilson, a longtime Fellowship member, already has TV cred as a former contestant on NBC’s The Biggest Loser: Families. She lost 106 pounds while she appeared on the show in 2008 with her estranged daughter from Fort Worth. Her daughter won the season, becoming the second female biggest loser in the series’ history at that time. (Wilson: “I was like, ‘God, I want to lose weight and reconcile with my daughter.’ Did I think it was going to be on national TV? No.”)
Rounding out the potential cast are the Youngs’ two children, out of four, who still live at home. Ed Jr., who goes by E.J., is 22, and with his deep-set eyes and penchant for skinny jeans, resembles his father. E.J. works for the church doing graphic design and social media, but dabbles in photography, perhaps trying to develop his own world — always a great plotline. Even better, his hobbies include loading up his own Mercedes SUV, an M-Class, with friends and longboards to skate in empty parking lots after dark. The visuals can’t be beat.
Landra, the youngest Young at home, says that as a P.K. — a Preacher’s Kid — she is used to life on display. “There is a beautiful side, and there is also a brutal side.” At 19, she is maturely aware that other girls are looking at how she conducts her life and even her clothes. “I just try and dress appropriately and try to be an example to other girls because I know, being in the fishbowl, little girls are watching. … So I just try to set a good example.” (That is more than you’ll ever get from Kim Kardashian.) Landra even makes a comment later that could be spun into promotional gold for the potential show. In discussing a church excursion to Johannesburg, she notes: “You find the best shopping on mission trips.”