EXCLUSIVE: Here is a competition show whose contestants will probably have the highest IQ in all of reality television. Discovery and top unscripted series producer Craig Piligian are introducing a new reality genre: an engineering competition show. Discovery Channel has ordered eight episodes from the untitled series. It will be set at WET (Water Entertainment Technologies), the renowned Los Angeles-based water/fire feature design and engineering firm that is behind some 200+ installations, including such technological landmarks as Fountains of Bellagio at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas and The Dubai Fountain, the world’s biggest fountain. The show, which will be produced by Piligian’s Pilgrim Studios, will have design engineers competing against each other in extreme challenges that push the boundaries of technology, creativity, ingenuity and craftsmanship. “Scientific exploration and experimentation is at the core of Discovery Channel’s DNA,” said Nancy Daniels, EVP, Discovery Channel Production and Development. “With its competition format, this new series will shine a spotlight on the exciting world of science and engineering in a completely new way.”
In 2006, movie channel AMC ventured into original programming with miniseries Broken Trail. A year later, it entered another genre, scripted series, with Mad Men. Now, the cable network is launching an expansion into yet another original programming area: reality. AMC has ordered its first unscripted series, Inside the DHS and The Pitch. Both hail from top reality producers, Craig Piligian and Eli Holzman & Stephen Lambert, respectively, and will be branded “docu-stories,” as AMC describes its take on the docu-series genre.
Inside the DHS, which is slated to begin filming shortly for a premiere in the fourth quarter, will chronicle the behind-the-scenes workings of the Department of Homeland Security and its personnel, including Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. “We have incredible access, including working directly with Secretary Napolitano,” AMC’s SVP Joel Stillerman said. Executive producer Piligian of Pilgrim Films & Television and AMC will cooperate with the department on protecting sensitive information, and Stillerman doesn’t expect that to be an issue. “We’re not looking to do an expose of the Department of Homeland Security, we actually want to go in and look into the day-to-day (workings) of the people and what they do to keep us safe.”
The Pitch, executive produced by Holzman and Lambert from Studio Lambert, is set in the world of advertising and eyed for a 2012 debut. Each episode follows top creative ad agencies as they pitch …
The story of Amanda Knox, the U.S. exchange student convicted by an Italian trial jury of brutally murdering her roommate, is getting the Hollywood treatment as a TV movie with Heroes star Hayden Panettiere as Knox. Lifetime has greenlighted the project, tentatively titled The Amanda Knox Story, from reality producer Craig Piligian (Ghost Hunters). It will air in 2011.
Knox became an international object of fascination not just because of her wholesome good looks but also because of the unbelievably gruesome facts of the crime. The media also unleashed revelations about her sex life (her nickname became Foxy Knoxy) after the then 20-year-old and her Italian boyfriend were arrested in November 2007. They were accused of killing Knox’s roommate, 21-year-old Meredith Kercher who was found slain inside the duo’s cottage in the medieval Italian town of Perugia after what prosecutors said was a violent night fueled by sex and drugs. The charges were that Knox, her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, and Ivory Coast native Rudy Guede, sexually assaulted Kercher and Knox slashed the roommate’s throat with a knife. Prosecutors described Knox as a “coiled spring” filled with vengeance because her “prissy roommate” had criticized her grooming and sexual habits.
After an 11-month trial, Knox last December was sentenced to 26 years in prison. Sollecito received 25 years and, in a separate trial, Guede received 30 years. Knox maintains her innocence and has appealed. The case also drew political attention when U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell from Knox’s home state …