The Murfreesboro Post

CMT chose Lilly Belle, Jackson, parents Brad and Brandi Deas, and siblings Campbell, 21 months, and Cooper, 9 months, as the “most deserving, busiest, blue collar American family,” and took them on vacation with comedian Pauly Shore.

When CMT producers asked 9-year-old Lilly Belle Cunningham about her dream vacation, the Murfreesboro girl just wanted some place to throw sand on her 11-year-old brother, Jackson Cunningham.

Lilly Belle’s honest answer probably convinced the producers to choose her real-life family to star in the summer reality show, CMT’s “Paid Vacation” with Pauly Shore.

CMT chose Lilly Belle, Jackson, parents Brad and Brandi Deas, and siblings Campbell, 21 months, and Cooper, 9 months, as the “most deserving, busiest, blue collar American family,” and took them on vacation with comedian Shore.

They spent Feb. 29 to March 4 with Shore filming the show in Seaside, Fla.

“It will be a comedy that’s for sure,” Brandi Deas said of the show that will premier at 8:30 p.m. Friday on CMT. The Deas family and friends will watch the premier at Coach’s restaurant on Southeast Broad Street.

Brandi Deas, a project manager at Healthcare Management Systems in Nashville, and Brad Deas, US Food Service’s territory manager, never dreamed their family would be selected.

Producers told the family they wouldn’t know if they were chosen until they showed up at their door. “It was just like Christmas morning,” said Brad Deas when he and his wife awoke about 4:30 a.m. Feb. 29 to a Mercedes parked near their Quantam Court home off River Rock Boulevard.

They had 1-1/2 hours to pack for five days with 30 people inside their home, including photographers and caterers. They were told to bring bathing suits.

Brandi panicked so she called neighbor Brandy Allison who came home from work to help the family get organized and packed. Shore called their employers and Principal Chad Fletcher at Cason Lane Academy to inform them about the show.

The family rode in a limousine to the Nashville airport where they flew in a private Lear jet to Florida. The babies sat in their parents’ laps.

Jackson sat on the toilet on the flight because the jet was so crowded. But their $10 million vacation home eased his pain.

“Oh, man, it was great,” Jackson recalled. “There was a pool table in there. I went down every morning playing with the pool table while everybody slept.”

Lilly Belle wishes she could live in the house with the great view.

“I just like looking at the ocean all the time,” Lilly Belle said.

*** Show producers developed a plot and storyline Brandi Deas described as “kind of corny. That’s why I can’t wait to see it.”

One morning, the executive chef banged pots in the morning before fixing an “unbelievable breakfast.” Shore fixed lox and cream cheese on bagels with caviar for Brandi Deas to make her husband jealous. Brad Deas had to act in the scene four or five times because he couldn’t stop laughing.

Most scenes were not spontaneous but shot four or five times. “The only thing reality that happened was when my son who wrestles for the Sharp Shooters and Pauly wrestled,” Brandi Deas said. “Pauly Shore busted his lip. We had to go to the emergency room.” Doctors glued his lip back together.

On the second day, a tour bus driver handed Brandi Deas a rolled up message from county music entertainer Alan Jackson inviting the parents and Jackson and Lilly Belle to a concert in Florida. Shore acted like he was going to babysit Campbell and Cooper. The link shows Shore’s reaction to caring for the babies. Actually, Brandi Deas’ friend Paige Davis cared for the younger children.

The Deas family met Jackson backstage, a special occasion for Brad Deas.

“He is one of those iconic country singers you don’t think is real,” Brad Deas said, adding, “He’s one of those ones you hold up on a pedestal.”

Cameras filmed them taking their seats at the concert, causing the audience to wonder who they were.

“We actually felt like we were celebrities at that point,” the father said.

On the third day, the family traveled to Gulf World in Panama City where they swam with dolphins. Brad Deas doesn’t particularly want to view that part of the show.

“My biggest fear is how fat I’m going to look,” Brad Deas said. “I’ve got a little bit of an ego, too. Wet suits aren’t becoming.”

For Jackson, swimming with the dolphins was awesome because they got to hug the dolphins and ride on their backs.

Lilly Belle described the ride as feeling “really smooth and really bumpy at the same time.”

On the last night, the family dined at a restaurant with exotic foods, drinks and desserts with the bill amounting to more than $5,000.

Shore told the family he had to leave and the waiter gave the father the bill as joke, leaving the father in shock. Shore gave the family a big-screen TV at home to make up for it.

The family rode home on Jackson’s tour bus equipped like a home.

Effects of the show remain. For example, Lilly Belle had an agent within two weeks and filmed for a commercial. She had two scenes in the Hannah Montana movie. Brad Deas was filmed in the Hannah Montana movie, too.

“Our whole family is ready for Hollywood,” Brad Deas said. “It was like we had a TV show for our family and we were the main characters. We ate it up.”

Jackson maintained Lilly Belle didn’t throw sand on him or he would have held her underwater.

But Lilly Belle disagreed with her big brother.

“I threw sand all over his black bushy hair,” Lilly Belle laughed.



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