Nearly 5,000 people applied to participate in Fox’s reality series Utopia, Fox’s reality TV guru Simon Andreae told TV critics this afternoon. Showrunners have whittled that prodigious list down to about 40, and are now selecting the 15 who will get to go live in some isolated made-for-TV makeshift community in southern California for a year while trying to forge a new society that believes in filming its citizens 24/7 for broadcast on TV and on the Internet.
Utopia, from reality vet John de Mol, is a reality series featuring a group of everyday people whisked to an isolated location for an entire year and challenged to create their own civilization. The show builds dramatic tension from the provision that any of the “colonists” can be replaced at any time by someone from the show’s audience. It’s based on a Dutch show that’s been running since January. The show premieres Sept. 7.
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EXCLUSIVE: Is Fox heading back to Temptation Island? I hear that the network is in talks for a pilot order to Couples Retreat, a new reality project that would put couples to the test. Unlike Fox’s controversial Temptation Island, which was trying to break couples whose relationship was not strong enough, Couples Retreat aims at helping couples whose relationships are struggling using an unconventional method: “each agree to go on a fantasy weekend with the opposite-gender partner of a similarly matched couple.” The provocative concept, which likely will draw swinging-couple references, is sure to raise eyebrows. The project, which is now casting, comes from Red Arrow-backed Kinetic Content, run by Chris Coelen, who previously worked on ABC’s Wife Swap. Read More »
Two months after he was named EVP of Alternative Entertainment for Fox, Simon Andreae has put together his team, surrounding himself with executives who share his producer background. Lisa Levenson has joined the network as SVP and Alex Piper as VP Alternative. Reporting to Andreae, the two will oversee day-to-day management of the network’s returning unscripted programs and specials as well as reality development. “Lisa and Alex come to us with strong backgrounds, both as showrunners and as senior production company executives,” said Andreae. “As such, each is perfectly equipped not only to support our current unscripted slate, but also to help shape the next generation of hit Fox shows.” Most of Fox’s senior unscripted executives who worked under the network’s previous head of alternative Mike Darnell left after he departed his post last May. Some of them, including Tom Sheets and Sabrina Ishak, have since re-joined Darnell at Warner Bros TV. Amy Cohen, who has been a member of Fox’s unscripted team since 2005, stayed on and has helped with the executive transition in addition to playing a key role in a number of Fox unscripted franchises including American Idol and Hell’s Kitchen, and most recently helping launch MasterChef and MasterChef Junior, which she continues to oversee. She has now been promoted to Executive Director, Alternative Entertainment. Read More »
Simon Andreae, the former Channel 4 exec in the UK and former Discovery Channel exec in Los Angeles, is a guy best known for programs that mulled why the RMS Titanic sank and whether God created the universe, but also the first televised human autopsy, first televised exorcism and, of course, the series Naked And Afraid. He is replacing the Fox exec crowned Point Man For Perversity by The New York Times, Mike Darnell.
Related: Mike Darnell Moving To Warner Bros TV
In August, Andreae announced that after an eight-year stint in the U.S., he’d launched Scarlet Media and would be returning to the UK with a contract with Sony Pictures TV, reporting to SPT exec Andrea Wong, who used to head reality TV at ABC. Based in London, Andreae would develop factual and factual entertainment formats and specials for British TV and international markets.
While for public consumption Andreae is replacing Darnell, the job is smaller than it was under Darnell — and pays less, which eliminated a few of the candidates who’d been in talks, sources report. Andreae will oversee development; Fox veteran David Hill will hang on to the network’s current reality franchises American Idol and The X Factor. That’s maybe just as well for Andreae given that the two singing competitions had become something of a high-class headache for Darnell, what with Idol’s numbers still good but tumbling, and X Factor‘s promised gimongus crowd continuing to not show up for a third season despite yet another judge-panel makeover. Read More »
After an 8-year stint in the U.S., producer Simon Andreae is headed back to Britain to hang production shingle Scarlet Media. Sony Pictures Television is backing the venture and taking a majority stake. It will also distribute Scarlet’s output internationally. This marks the fifth UK production company owned by SPT and its 19th international outfit. London-based Scarlet Media will focus on original factual and factual entertainment formats as well as series and specials. Andreae will be managing director, reporting to SPT president of international production Andrea Wong. Most recently, Andreae was SVP West Coast Development and Production for Discovery. He is also founder of LA-based The Incubator and a former Channel 4 exec. SPT’s other UK production companies are Left Bank Pictures, Gogglebox Entertainment, Silver River and Victory Television.