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Ma's Roadhouse: homegrown, low down fun with a double Dallas connection

AMS Pictures head Andy Streitfeld is flanked by the namesake of Ma's Roadhouse and her son, Rick Fairless, owner of the Strokers Dallas motorcycle shop and adjacent bar/restaurant. Photo: Ed Bark

Need a new guilty pleasure as part of your TV viewing regimen?

You might want to try truTV's Ma's Roadhouse, a low brow, hoot 'n' holler reality TV series produced by Dallas-based AMS Pictures and airing Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. (central).

The half-hour show's namesake is the chain-smoking, liquor-sipping, frequently bleeped 71-year-old mother of Strokers Dallas biker shop/bar-restaurant owner Rick Fairless.

"He's a dumb ass," she affectionately says of her son. TruTV is positioning Ma (full name, Sharon Fairless) as a "redneck Betty White," which currently is better than being a Southern-fried Cloris Leachman.

AMS threw a premiere party for last Wednesday's first two episode of Ma's Roadhouse, during which Ma bitched about tattooed bikini girls, her driver's license renewal test and anything else that displeased her -- which is just about everything. Her voice sounds as though it's channeled through a tracheotomy hole. But Fairless assured party-goers that she's healthy as a horse and willing to throw a shoe at anyone who gets in her way.

The network's description for the Wednesday, Sept. 22 episode (one of six more to come) says "it's the day of the Strokers Ink Anniversary bash, and Rick discovers evidence that a tattoo artist he once fired is now trying to steal his customers. To complicate matters, a health inspector pops in for a surprise visit, prompting a confrontation with Ma."

Just about anything prompts a confrontation with Ma, who's the oft-high-larious mother's milk of Ma's Roadhouse. As with most "reality" series, some of this stuff is concocted, with all of the real-life participants (including Fairless' daughter, Lena and wife, Sue) then acting out their parts. The all-business health inspector getting smashed on Ma's "Texas Tea" before stripping his shirt off, for instance. Transparently fake.

The Fairless family has been this route before, on an earlier Speed Channel series titled Texas Hardtails. It premiered in July 2005, but wasn't renewed after 10 episodes.

"My idea for this show was always bikes, babes and beer," Fairless said at the time.

Little has changed in the five years since, save for a ramped-up role for cantankerous Ma. Actually that counts for a lot. She pretty much makes the show.

AMS also currently produces Girl Meets Gown for WEtv and has a show in development, Homecourt Advantage, that would star Dallas Mavericks guard Jason Terry and his family. Another potential series, Hot Texas Models, would feature Joan Bush, a Texas modeling agency owner whose husband is country singing star John Rich.

The company's owner and founder, Andy Streitfeld, told party-goers that a possible series featuring the Twin Peaks restaurant chain has a working title of Breastaurant. AMS also has been active on the higher-minded documentary front, where its productions have included Stop the Presses and The Good Fight: James Farmer Remembers the Civil Rights Movement.