Published December 29, 2011
ABC’s hit series “Wife Swap” is back in January 2012 – but this time its featuring celebrities with lots and lots (and lots) of baggage.
The premiere episode of Celebrity Wife Swap” is titled “Gary Busey/Ted Haggard.” Steffanie Sampson, fiancé of Oscar-nominated Busey, swaps lifestyles, children and homes with Gayle Haggard, wife of the disgraced former president of the National Evangelical Association, Ted Haggard.
Haggard resigned in 2006 after a man claimed to have had drug-fueled homosexual escapades with him.
So why did Haggard agree to having reality television cameras probe his personal life?
“We became convinced that it would communicate hope to people," Haggard told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column. "With so many people losing their homes and their jobs and families and so much turmoil going on right now, we thought with our story being the parents of a handicapped child and going through a scandal five years ago, that if people could actually see through the trauma that our family actually grew closer together.”
“Our children are healthy, vibrant and wonderful," he said. "We hope that would give people hope.”
When inking the deal with ABC, the Haggards had no idea who they would be forced to trade existences with for a week, so it came as a great relief to Ted to be paired with Steffanie – who he claimed took great care to help him and his children “move past the negativity of five years ago and life to the fullest.”
The biggest bone of contention between the two became their differences regarding faith and religion.
“We are a Bible believing, born again Christians and she believes more new age type philosophy. She and Gary believe that they have lived 32 lifetimes together,” Haggard explained. “They believe in reincarnation where we don't believe in that at all. Our time together was funny, there was lots of laughter and it modeled mutual respect because when she said that whole living 32 lives together with Gary I just laughed and said, ‘You don't look nearly that old’ instead of having an intense theological debate."
Haggard also made it clear there will be no more sex-related scandals stemming from the swap.
“We’re actually friends now; we are going to watch the show together when it airs. Gayle and I are going to be in California and were going to watch it with the Busey's,” Haggard said. “We enjoy one another so much, Gary and Gale just really hit it off too, and it was a great show.”
“I am a Newt Gingrich fan partially because he models resurrection to me. He has been married three times, he has gone through his own infidelity, his own growth process, and his own repentance and renewal of faith so I trust him because of that,” Haggard said. “It is the heartbreak in life that makes us the people we want to be.”
“Celebrity Wife Swap” aside, Haggard is also exploring other avenues to show that his sex scandal hasn’t brought him down.
“I have started my own YouTube channel where I can have my voice. I had to be silent for two years after the scandal out of submission to the church, so there were all kinds of misinformation and misunderstanding out there for two years,” he added. “Now it has been five years and I am starting to address things myself so people can meet me and my ideas, rather than take what people said I believe.”
“Celebrity Wife Swap” debuts on January 3 at 9PM EST on ABC.
Danielle Jones-Wesley contributed to this report.