Are you in or are you out?
Thats one of Tony Robbins key questions to those he tries to help. The self-improvement coach and best-selling author is no stranger to viewers, but after numerous infomercials, hes tackling television in a different way. He puts his strategies to work for a person, couple or family each week in Breakthrough With Tony Robbins, an unscripted NBC series that premieres Tuesday.
Its a privilege to be in prime time, the ever-energetic Robbins says. Even though theres a big change in how people watch television – some watch it on their DVRs or on the Web – theres still such a giant TV audience, I really wanted to do this. I think people need an alternative to the nature of news these days. I want to balance some of the fear thats out there with something inspirational.
The debut of Breakthrough showcases Frank and Kristen Alioto, whose wedding at a Mexican resort ended in a tragic twist of fate. Frank playfully jumped into a swimming pool to join Kristen and friends and broke his neck, landing him in a wheelchair. A year later, Robbins flies the spouses to his private island in Fiji.
Im not the Messiah, thats for sure, Robbins stresses, but I got this couple out of the house. That was a big step in itself. I said to this man, Its not what you have; its who you are and how you live. By the end of this story, hes doing things he didnt even do before the accident.
Breakthrough offers clearly spelled-out steps in the course of each hour, such as Redefine What Is Possible. In Franks case, that means undertaking sky diving, with Kristen making the same leap – literally.
I dont know if people need a Tony Robbins, the shows host demurs, but I think they need to remember who they are. I used to do a weeklong seminar where Id bring in a series of people who have been to hell and back. There was a guy who was locked up in Vietnam very much like John McCain and beaten every day, and he came out happier than he could possibly imagine.
I look at this not so much as The Tony Robbins Show but a show about others breakthroughs. I might be like the Wizard of Oz, the guy helping out a bit in the background, but you get to see real people making their own changes. It was a matter of designing a format that brings out their strengths and helps them remember what theyre capable of, or at least gives them a chance to do that. And I hope it makes us remember what were all capable of as well.