BY JENNIFER SELF Californian lifestyles editor firstname.lastname@example.org
In his six years as a nanny, Shaun Sturz has come to the conclusion that kids are pretty much the same no matter where they live: They're eating/sleeping/laughing/crying/diaper-filling imps brimming with pure, unfiltered id.
But an 18-month-old with an iPad? That's definitely more Beverly Hills than Bakersfield.
And, as it happens, Sturz is an expert on both places, having grown up here, two hours north of the exclusive 90210 ZIP code where most of the families whose children he supervises live.
But caring for the offspring of the rich and famous just may make Sturz himself a star: The Highland High graduate has been cast in "Beverly Hills Nannies," a reality show that premieres at 9 p.m. Wednesday on ABC Family.
"I'm being a hustler, trying to work and this is a new experience," said Sturz, 30, during a phone interview Tuesday.
"People all through the years have asked me what I do, and hopefully this will give them insight."
Sturz got his start as a nanny when he was helping a friend do some work at the home of smooth-jazz musician Kenny G. The sax player noticed how well Sturz interacted with his children and offered him a job as the family nanny, or "manny," as Sturz refers to himself. Sturz still works with the musician's kids occasionally, but a different family is the focus for his segments of the reality show.
"This is the best couple I could have been paired up with," he said. "And the toddler, a girl, is so freaking cute. Today we're going to do a little dance and song recital for her parents. We have to make everything over and beyond."
Sturz, whose parents and brother still live in Bakersfield, took a few more of our questions before running off to do a series of pickup shots.
How did you get this gig?
I hunted them down. I've had two other manny shows created around me before within three or four years and those never got picked up. I was referred to this production company from a manny.
I became best friends with the main girl on the show, Kristin. I was the very first person years ago to get hooked up with them. I'm so excited for it to finally be on the air. There are going to be some shockers on the show, some drama.
What kind of shockers? Are you a cross-dressing puppeteer or something?
Well I'm not a puppeteer. People who knew me in Bakersfield will be shocked.
What's your real ambition in life?
I had an "aha" moment when I was a manny for Kenny G. I decided I wanted to write a children's book. I've been on a four- to five-year quest to get my book published. On the show I talk about being rejected and wanting to get a book deal.
I want to be an author/illustrator because I want to live in a treehouse in Costa Rica or Nicaragua. I'm obsessed with the movie "Swiss Family Robinson." I'm Swiss, so I was supposed to have a treehouse as a kid but my dad never built it, and I never let him live it down. So once I get the money, I will build it.
Did you get paid for your appearance on the show?
Yes. But I can't say how much.
Was it enough to build a treehouse in Costa Rica?
No, I still dabble in the nanny 'hood, but I'm hoping once my first book sells it will be different. In the next couple of months, hopefully you'll hear about a book deal.
Beyond the obvious differences -- wealth, power and the general fabulousness of their lives -- are parents in Beverly Hills much different than parents in Bakersfield?
I think they're more the same than you would think. People still have to eat, sleep, go to school. The only difference is money, and money allows you to have choices and have a manny. But more money, more problems.
When people in the real world are out of work and losing their homes, how can people in Beverly Hills possibly have more problems because they're too rich?
Everyone wants something from them. Everybody wants to be their best friend, have them donate to their charity. You have to keep your close friends close in Beverly Hills because you have lots of friends if you have money.
Are the kids spoiled beyond belief?
I think for me, yes, because I know my parents worked and I would be rewarded for something and not just get a new bike because I wanted one. But with these parents, if the kid wants a new bike for the new bike color, they get it. But the kids are the nicest, sweetest kids and they're really well-rounded.
Do most Beverly Hills nannies use the job as a way to get access to powerful people so that they can further their other career goals?
I never thought about that. All the nannies on the show do it because they honestly like kids. It shows that nannies can be fun and interesting and hot too, and not just old-school and boring. You do get contacts. They get to know you and they can help you.
Kenny G said, "I'd never let my son play in my band just because he's my son." But he wrote the foreword for my book. I ask people for stuff. I'm not afraid.
Are you afraid of how you might be portrayed on the show? Some reality stars complain of being the victims of unfair editing.
I'm in charge of everything I do. I'm pretty confident that I'll be a likable character.
Hey, if I make Snooki's paycheck, I'll be OK. Say whatever you want!
Do you want kids of your own?
I want a few kids. But I want to stop nannying before I hate kids, or I'll have to have a nanny of my own.