Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The 'Braxton' 5 rock the house in new reality series 'Braxton Family Values'

The Braxton sisters - Toni (c.) and (l-f.) Towanda, Traci, Trina and Tamar - show off their 'family values' in a new reality series on We.

The Braxton sisters - Toni (c.) and (l-f.) Towanda, Traci, Trina and Tamar - show off their 'family values' in a new reality series on We.

Watching Tamar Braxton whine that she's tired of being a backup singer for her sister Toni isn't just standard reality-show drama, insists Tamar.

So even though she whines incessantly on "Braxton Family Values," which features the five Braxton sisters and premieres tonight at 9 on We, Tamar says the show has a higher purpose.

"We didn't do this as a career move," she says. "It's something we felt we had to do. We thought that as females, it could make a difference in other people's lives."

However therapeutic "Braxton Family Values" turns out to be for America, it does prove that even if Toni Braxton is the most recognizable name, she yields nothing to her sisters for drama.

None of Bravo's "Housewives" send big and small life crises hurtling toward viewers faster than the Braxton sisters.

Toni has sold 40 million records, filed for bankruptcy twice, suffered serious health issues and undergone a very public marital split. But line her up next to Towanda, Trina, Traci and especially Tamar, and the competition is on.

"I got the idea for this show in 2008," says Tamar. "And all my sisters were like, 'No way.' But then I think we realized we all had stories to tell. People are going to look into your life anyway. So why not tell the story yourself?"

"I'll be honest," says Toni. "I was a little concerned. But my sisters convinced me."

"Braxton Family Values," which also features mother Evelyn, has standard reality-show moments: complaining, eye-rolling, frustration that no one seems to get what one person is saying.

Where it differs, says Tamar, is that "when it's over, we can't just go home until next season. We still have to deal with each other."

For instance: Tamar is married to Toni's manager, Vincent Herbert. Vince also manages Lady Gaga and is one of the major players in popular music these days. That's one reason Tamar wants to know why he hasn't made her a star yet.

He explains that he drew her up a solo contract six months ago, but that she won't sign it because he won't guarantee her first recording will be out within a year.

He says it would be career suicide to force a release if it isn't perfect by then, because these days artists get no second chances. She's not buying.

Meanwhile, Traci is out of the music business and misses it. Towanda has become Toni's personal assistant and that 2-4/7 job often drives her nuts. Towanda also has marriage problems.

Trina is sparring with alcohol.

Toni doesn't discuss her marriage, but does say health problems, including lupus, are what caused her money to run out. Now, she says, she's trying to stabilize her health, career and life.

"There are good days and bad days," she says. "I don't want this show to be about me being a diva or the glam, because I can do that on stage. I want people to see me a a sister and a mom."

If the show doesn't help America, it still could help the Braxtons.

"This show made us very close," says Trina. "It made us do a lot of healing."

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