Angela Simmons wants a party for her high-school graduation, and boy, does she have ideas. A Plexiglas dance floor over the family swimming pool. Gift bags with iPods. And the finest food 250 teenagers can devour. But, look, girls with much less spend much more on MTV's hit show "My Super Sweet 16," and the Simmons family has a brand-new Rolls-Royce. If you watched the first season of "Run's House" on MTV, however, you know that Angela and her four siblings don't get to fling much bling. "Run"--formerly of the seminal rap group Run-DMC--is her dad. He's a minister now, and he and wife Justine preside over their house like stern Sunday-school teachers. It may not sound like fun--Angela ended up with a simple pool party and barbecue--but that's the surprise of "Run's House," which is returning for its second season on June 15. In a time when TV families have to be outrageous, dysfunctional or both, "Run's House" is sweet, wholesome and charming. "We wanted to do a show about a family who just has regular problems, not extremes," Run says. "You don't have to always be shocking."
How did a functional family end up on MTV, home of "The Osbournes"? Star power helped. Run has a mogul for a brother, Russell Simmons, and a good friend in co-executive producer Sean (Puffy) Combs. "Run is hip-hop's Frank Sinatra, and MTV saw that," says Combs. The show plays like an unscripted version of "The Cosby Show" or "Father Knows Best," with Father fighting valiantly to keep the upper hand. A reality show with a moral? "My children don't talk back to me or my wife or cuss,'' says Run. "Can you imagine a black family where the children cuss out the parents? There is just no way that's happening around here--and that's the biggest difference you will see on our show: total respect. You can't live in here with me without it."
The show speaks to anyone with a family, but it's been especially resonant for African-American viewers. They've made the Simmons family superstars. Angela and her sister, Vanessa, have been dubbed the "hip-hop Hiltons"--they're always looking to spend Dad's money--and Justine is something of a June Cleaver with a manicure. "I have people come up to me all the time at church, in the mall, just saying how they know someone just like me,'' she says as she scrambles eggs for her youngest son. "It's weird to have someone you've never met before tell you how much they like you--but I take it as a compliment.'' The biggest winner has been Run, who's been out of the spotlight for years. In addition to doing the show, he's written a new book, "Words of Wisdom: Daily Affirmation of Faith." "I'm showing people, and in particular the younger hip-hop artists, that you can grow up, have a family and still be cool," he says. "I have guys like Nelly coming up to say what an inspiration it is to see me be a father. What more can I ask for?"