By JUDY SLOANE
Front Row Features
HOLLYWOOD— Would you like to get a glimpse of Clint Eastwood’s family life? Well … sort of. The new reality series “Mrs. Eastwood and Company” on E! takes cameras into the iconic star’s home, chronicling the lives of his wife, Dina Eastwood, his daughters Francesca and Morgan, and Overtone, an all-male, six member vocal group from South Africa, who are managed by Dina.
Dina Ruiz Eastwood was a former TV news anchor in 1993 when she was assigned to interview the legendary actor-director. The two instantly clicked and three years later they married. The lovely brunette spoke with journalists last month about her new venture into reality TV.
Front Row Features: How did this project come about?
Eastwood: Three years ago, I accompanied Clint to South Africa while he made the movie “Invictus.” I went to ladies’ night out (to see a rock band named Overtone), and these six beautiful young men walked out on stage. When they opened their mouths and sang, I said they had to perform for the cast and crew. So their first performance out of the chute was for Matt Damon, Morgan Freeman, Clint Eastwood and 100 crewmembers. The next thing I knew, they were extras in the movie, and Clint approached them about cutting a demo for the soundtrack. One thing led to another, and I’ve been their manager for three years. It’s been a very long, difficult road. The boys have lived with us off and on for three years.
Front Row Features: How is it opening your house to these young people?
Eastwood: (It’s quite a) dynamic having six young South Africans here along with my two lovely daughters; my 18-year-old stepdaughter, Francesca, whom I’ve gotten to share a life with thanks to her generous mother (Frances Fisher), and my 15-year-old daughter, Morgan.
Front Row Features: Clint has been very protective of his family and his privacy over the years. What charms do you have that got him to sign off on this?
Eastwood: We’ve been married 16 years now. We’ve been together 18 years. So it’s a great relationship that doesn’t involve a lot of control. He knew what he was getting, (he was a) voluntary victim when he signed up with me, and me with him also.
Front Row Features: Did it take some convincing?
Eastwood: He respects the fact that I’ve done something with this amazing band, and I want to see it through. I’m hopeful that we’ll get a national and international platform for my six adopted sons. So he signed off.
Front Row Features: What does he think about your doing a reality show?
Eastwood: He’s not doing cartwheels that I’m doing a reality show. He’d rather that I play golf with him more. But he’s excited to see the success of the band as well. And I need to say, there’s no illegal activity going on or anything to uncover that we can’t shoot. So I’m not worried about them shooting our day-to-day existence. I think that’s a big part of it, the faith I have in my kids, the faith Clint has in the kids and me.
Front Row Features: How much is Clint going to be in the show?
Eastwood: Clint is never featured in an episode. He appears in episodes because he’s a good husband. We ate a family dinner at a restaurant we own. He attended the dinner voluntarily, knowing cameras were rolling. So there are no episodes about Clint, but he graciously appears in a couple of episodes. He doesn’t have a problem with it. It was his choice. But, again, there are no episodes that focus on Clint Eastwood or our marriage.
Front Row Features: So what’s the focus?
Eastwood: It’s about the music and me being a haggard mom, trying to raise two teenagers and to be a good wife as well. Clint happens to be in Atlanta now shooting a movie with Justin Timberlake and Amy Adams. He’s doing his first acting work in 20 years. He’s not directing. And so he is in Atlanta, which is a normal day in the Eastwood household. Dad’s out working, and mom’s home trying to make sure we’re all happy and clean.
Front Row Features: Even when he’s not on-camera, do you talk about him a lot?
Eastwood: Morgan would love to have her bellybutton pierced, and so there are many references to how dad feels about that. We never, ever cut corners with referencing Clint. And if he wanted me to do that, I don’t think I would. We’re referencing my husband; he’s the head of our family. We’re very free about talking about him and what we think his opinions might be on a certain subject. If people are tuning in because they’re Clint Eastwood lovers, they might be disappointed, frankly. The show is about the rest of the family and the band and the music.
Front Row Features: You said earlier that the band lives with you on and off. You have two teenage daughters, and now six handsome guys in that house. What kind of living arrangement is going on?
Eastwood: They are great. These guys are like Americans were, I imagine, in the ’50s. ‘Yes, ma’am.’ ‘No, ma’am.’ They eat tacos with a knife and fork. They open doors for you. Clint’s got two houses on a lot, and they lived in one of the houses.
Front Row Features: How much intrusion was there in your life with the cameras always on you?
Eastwood: I’ve seen a lot of TV crews. This crew is A-plus, a stealth crew. You don’t know they’re there. They just kind of hid in corners. So it was less obtrusive than you would imagine. You don’t really understand you’re being taped sometimes.