ABC‘s new injury-plagued Splash isn’t the only reality diving show hampered by safety concerns. Xinhua News Agency reports 18-year-old Peng Jiaxuan, assistant to martial artist/contestant Shi Xiaolong on China’s Celebrity Splash China, drowned in a pool during a training session April 19. The show broadcast on China’s Zhejiang TV and ABC’s Splash are both spin-offs of the original Dutch format. The death happened a day after US Splash contestant Nicole Eggert was injured on the set of ABC’s American version and subsequently hospitalized. In recent weeks fellow contestant Rory Bushfield ruptured an eardrum and Louie Anderson suffered bruised ribs in training, while show-related injuries forced Katherine Webb and Chuy Bravo to quit the show in its first month on the air.
Niklas Lagergren Leaves MPA For News Corp’s Brussels Office
News Corp. has named Niklas Lagergren as SVP government affairs for Europe, Middle East and Africa. Lagergren joins the company from the Motion Picture Association where he was most recently VP for EU affairs, working closely with the Hollywood majors at the European level. He will start the job on March 1, based at the company’s new Brussel’s office. Lagergren, who has been with the MPA for over 10 years, said, “I have been both professionally and personally committed to representing the public affairs interests of media companies and I am now fortunate to be able to take my efforts to a new level by joining the leader in global media.” News Corp. also appointed Benjamin King director of government affairs for Europe, Middle East and Africa, reporting to Lagergren. He was formerly public affairs manager for News International.
In one of two recent format disputes, the Banijay Group has won a ruling to stop broadcaster SBS and The Voice creator Talpa Media from using the title The Next Popstar for an upcoming Dutch talent show. Banijay objected to the name, saying it too closely resembled its own format, Popstars. That show, which has spawned versions in more than 50 countries, ran for three years on SBS’ SBS6, the same channel that The Next Popstar was targeting in the Netherlands. In its decision, the District Court of The Hague prohibited Talpa and SBS from using the name going forward based on an article of the Paris Convention relating to well-known trademarks. Banijay recently acquired a majority stake in Australian production company Screentime, which in 1999 created the Popstars format that served as a precursor to the Idol series of singing competition shows.
When Fox last week greenlighted Stars In Danger: High Diving, a two-hour reality special/backdoor pilot for celebrity diving competition to air during the upcoming holidays, it was unclear whether ABC would proceed with their very similar straight-to-series project Celebrity Splash, which is not slated to premiere until next year, after the rival Fox show.
ABC put speculation to rest today, booking its first piece of talent for Celebrity Splash, four-time Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis, who will serve as a judge. The series, produced by Eyeworks USA, will feature celebrities performing dives from heights of up to 10 meters, increasing in difficulty each week. A professional diving instructor will train each celebrity for several weeks leading up to the competition. Louganis will serve as one of three judges who will rate the dives.
This is the latest example of Fox jumping ahead of ABC with shows that have concepts similar to ABC series, like Nanny 911 vs. ABC’s Supernanny and Trading Spouses vs. Wife Swap.
BBC Comedies Vie For Commissions At Salford Sitcom Showcase
The BBC is taking a shot at remaking It Takes A Village, the 2010 ABC pilot by Casey Johnson & David Windsor that starred Leah Remini. Whether the UK version actually goes forward, however, will be in the hands of a live studio audience next month. For the second year in a row, the BBC is testing a crop of potential shows in front of a live audience at the Salford Sitcom Showcase, a three-day event during which six comedy pilots are performed onstage to a packed house as execs take notes. The first edition spawned commissions for family sitcoms Citizen Khan, which BBC One just picked up for a second season, and Hebburn which debuted on BBC Two this month. On deck at this year’s showcase with It Takes A Village are the battling-neighbors show 1987, from Sherlock producers Beryl and Sue Vertue; Just Us, about a couple forced to downsize from London that’s exec produced by Don Taffner for DLT Entertainment and stars Downton Abbey‘s Samantha Bond; The Gatekeeper, from exec producers Gareth Edwards and Saurabh Kakkar about a 40-ish man who works the nightshift as a security guard; the Pete Thornton exec produced Chain Gang about life in a Bristol coffee bar and family show Homeboys from exec producer Mario Stylianides for Lucky Giant. This year, the Salford Showcase runs from Nov 21-23.
Seven Network Unveils New And Returning Lineup
Australian Seven Network has commissioned Eyeworks to produce a local version of Celebrity Splash, a Dutch format that U.S. network ABC also has embraced, and it will co-produce The Mole-Culture Clash with FremantleMedia Australia. These were among the new shows for 2013 unveiled by Seven, the top-rated prime-time network for the past six years, on Tuesday night. Debutantes include A Place to Call Home, an Australian drama series about a woman whose privileged family is rocked by scandal, set in a rural town in the 1950s, created by Bevan Lee (who created Seven’s hit Packed to the Rafters); and Mrs. Biggs, a British drama series starring Sheridan Smith as the woman who married notorious train robber Ronnie Biggs, a co-production between ITV Studios, Seven and December Films. Among the fresh U.S. series will be Last Resort, Red Widow and Zero Hour. Returning shows include Revenge, Downton Abbey, The X-Factor, Dancing with the Stars and Australia’s Got Talent.
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.
Diving, a main attraction during TV coverage of summer Olympics, will return to primetime way before the Rio games in 2016. ABC has picked up what is being described as television’s first diving, reality competition show from Eyeworks USA (formerly 3 Ball Prods.) The project, ordered straight to series, is based on the Dutch format Celebrity Splash and ill be executive produced by JD Roth, Todd A. Nelson and Brant Pinvidic.
According to the producers, in Celebrity Splash, celebrities perform dives from dizzying heights, which increase in difficulty each week, including backflips, somersaults and other gymnastic feats. Leading up to the competition, a professional diving instructor gives each celebrity weeks of training. The set up echoes ABC’s veteran Dancing With The Stars and its short-lived spinoff Skating With The Stars.
Celebrity Splash, called Sterren Springen in the Netherlands, the country that gave us Big Brother and The Voice, was a breakout hit for broadcaster SBS when it debuted there in August, reaching a 26.5% market share during the show’s Saturday primetime broadcasts and dominating the competition. (Watch a clip below. No knowledge of Dutch necessary.) The August launch date probably benefited from viewers’ interest in diving sparked by the London Olympics. Eyeworks already has sold the format to major broadcasters in the UK, France, and Australia, with additional sales expected at next week’s MIPCOM.