March 14, 2005 -- R EALITY TV has made stars of an over-the-hill rocker and his business-savvy wife, a ditzy hotel heiress and mean British music executive.
What do you suppose it will do for a couple of big-personality "little people" who are married with four kids?
Discovery Channel believes that it's unusual "Little People, Big Dreams" will prove one thing — that genetically diminutive people are the same as everyone else.
The show's star, Matt Roloff, is a laid-off computer software engineer. His wife, Amy, is a stay-at-home mom who raised their kids — twins Zack and Jeremy, Molly and Jacob — on the family's 30-acre Oregon farm.
That, in itself, poses challenges, both physically and emotionally.
While Molly and Jacob, the two younger children, are "average-sized" (the preferred term among little people), there's a different dynamic between 14-year-old twins Zack and Jeremy.
Zack, like his parents, is a little person, while Jeremy is average-sized. They both play soccer — but when Jeremy makes the team and Zack can't compete because of his height, there's a heart-breaking life lesson to be learned.
Life lessons, though, come every day to Matt and Amy, both heavily involved in the nonprofit "Little People's Association of America."
They've appeared on "Oprah" and "Good Morning America," and Matt even wrote a book, "Against Tall Odds: Being a David in a Goliath World."
"Little People, Big Dreams" is the kind of show that might have been too weird — frankly, too voyeuristic — to air on a major network a few years ago.
But since the reality TV boom, compelling, off-kilter stories about unusual people are flying onto the air.
That people stare at them is nothing new to Matt and Amy. It's all part of their realistic outlook on life — "finding a balance between adapting yourself to the world and adapting the world to yourself," as Matt says — that reverberates throughout the show, which airs a week from Thursday.
Matt, for instance, spent most of his younger life in hospitals because his legs were severely affected by his condition. He uses crutches.
But instead of brooding about his sheltered childhood, he's built a veritable playland on Roloff Farms for his kids — including a full-size Western town, a floating pirate ship, a multilevel treehouse and a castle (all shown in the documentary).
Gay Rosenthal Productions, the award-winning filmmakers behind "Little People, Big Dreams," spent 15 consecutive days taping the Roloffs.
They've captured everything from Matt's new business venture (hotel accessibility kits for little people) to Amy's anger at having to return to work after 14 years (she wants to stay home with the kids).