Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: The U.S. reality pool is getting crowded. Fox is taking a plunge into the competition celebrity diving reality arena with Stars In Danger: High Diving, a two-hour special that will air this winter. It will be produced by Bunim/Murray Prods based on a format owned by its parent company Banijay International. If successful, it could spawn a regular series.

The Stars In Danger green light comes on the heels of ABC giving a straight-to-series order earlier this month to Celebrity Splash, a competition celebrity diving reality series from Eyeworks USA, also based on an European format owned by Eyeworks. Stars In Danger: High Diving is expected to hit the water (air) first.

While Celebrity Splash only premiered in August in the Netherlands (as Sterren Springen), Stars In Danger: High Diving has long traditions. It has aired as a yearly two-night, three-hour special on ProSieben in Germany since 2004 as TV Total Turmspringen. (Watch bellow a video of a classic belly flop courtesy of an American-born member of boy band US5.) Its eighth edition is slated to start filming on November 24. In fact, there have been reports that Banijay is mulling filing a lawsuit against Eyeworks over Celebrity Splash. “We think ours of the best format because it’s the original, and with our sister company having produced the show for eight years, we will use all their experience and put it in our show,” said Bunim/Murray’s Jonathan Murray.

In Fox’s Stars In Danger: High Diving, approximately eight celebrities from different areas will first complete a crash-course in diving techniques, overseen by a renowned diving coach. After an intense training period, which will be featured in the special, they will compete in a series of Olympic-style dives, including solo high diving and synchronized diving, from a variety of heights ranging from 3, 5, 7.5 and 10 meters. An expert judging panel will award points and eventually narrow down the men, women and teams until the finalists battle it out dive-for-dive to determine the winner. Because of the different length — two hours vs. three for the original — the Fox version will be “much tighter and more focused on the drama of the celebrities stepping out of their comfort zone and getting tested in a way they had never been tested before,” Murray said.

The Stars In Danger: High Diving format has been percolating around the U.S. marketplace for a while. It was first handled by the producer of the original series, Raab TV/Brainpool TV, and more recently, following Banijay’s acquisition of Brainpool and Bunim/Murray, by the Real World producer. It took it to Fox, where it has done several series, including The Simple Life. “Stars In Danger has all the hallmarks of a great American Fox reality show — big stakes and high drama that keeps you on the edge of your seat,” said Murray, who is executive producing with Gil Goldschein and Scott Freeman. In Europe, there also have been other variations of the Stars In Danger format featuring celebrities compete in auto racing, equestrian and bobsled challenges.

Fox has a history of jumping ahead of ABC with shows that have concepts similar to ABC series, like Nanny 911 vs. ABC’s Supernanny and Trading Spouses vs. WifeSwap.

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