A show about antiques on Fox?! The network has greenlighted Buried Treasure, a new unscripted series starring antiques experts and appraisers Leigh and Leslie Keno (identical twin brothers of Antiques Roadshow fame), who travel across the country to help people sell collectibles lying around their homes. The series, from ITV Studios America, was created by Joe Livecchi (What Not to Wear), who is exec producing with Paul Buccieri, Tim Miller, Leigh Keno, Leslie Keno and Tim Eagan.
Discovery Studios, the production arm of Discovery Communications, has signed a long-term overall deal with veteran reality producer Eddie Barbini of Blue Frog Pictures who will produce series and specials for the studio. Barbini is a three-time Emmy award nominee in the Outstanding Reality Program category for his work on Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs. His credits also include Worst Case Scenario, Swamp Loggers and Out of the Wild: The Alaska Experiment for Discovery Channel and Miracle Detectives for OWN, as well as SWAT: Tactical Force for USA, American P.I. for FX, Arrest and Trial for ABC, and Manhunt for UPN. Barbini was recently an executive producer with Pilgrim Films. Discovery Studios has been actively making deals with unscripted producers. It recently signed American Chopper EP Rob Hammersley.
Oxygen Media has picked up a new reality series, Bachelorette Party, with an eight-episode order. The series, which gives brides-to-be an all-access, V.I.P. fantasy weekend with their ”besties” in Las Vegas, was developed by Gavin Polone of Pariah Entertainment and PB&J TV. Bachelorette Party, which starts production immediately, marks the latest unscripted effort for Polone whose previous reality credits include the 2005 series Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model Search. Polone is executive producing Bachelorette Party with Kathy Landsberg, Patty Ivins Specht and Julie Pizzi.
Fox will premiere new game show Million Dollar Money Drop as a strip during the holidays, airing on Dec. 20, 21, 22 and 23. On the show, based on an UK format, two contestants are given $1 million and have to work together to keep the money by answering multiple-choice questions. The project, which has been in the works at Fox for a while, will be hosted by Kevin Pollack who was previously attached to the network’s ill-fated Our Little Genius game show.
After a string of smaller cable series and gigs as awards show producer, Mark Burnett is back on network TV with a big adventure competition reality series at ABC. At first blush, the series, titled Expedition Impossible, looks very similar to CBS veteran The Amazing Race with teams of 3 instead of 2. From Expedition Impossible’s official description: “Teams of three will solve problems while racing across deserts, over mountains and through rivers. Each week a new stage of the expedition will be revealed. After ten stunning legs of competition, one team will cross the finish line first to claim victory.” Burnett, who is executive producing the series with Lisa Hennessy, describes it as “an epic Indiana Jones-style experience.”
Spike TV has greenlighted Most Lethal, a new unscripted series that should be a suitable companion to the channel’s popular Deadliest Warrior reality series. In Most Lethal, 12 real-life warriors from the top tiers of special operation forces faceoff in a grueling competition to determine who is the fiercest and winner of the “Most Lethal” title. The 10-episode, an authentic look at the covert world, is produced by GRB Entertainment for a summer 2011 premiere on Spike.
The ice rink proves to be less appealing for celebrities than the parquet floor as ABC announced a far less buzzworthy cast for its Dancing with the Stars spinoff, Skating with the Stars, than the ones it has been able to assemble for the mothership series. Real Housewives of New York star Bethenny Frankel is probably the biggest name on the roster which features not one but two actresses on soap operas, All My Children‘s Rebecca Budig and Young and The Restless‘ Sean Young as well as Motley Crue frontman Vince Neil. They will be joined by Olympic gold-winning skier Jonny Moseley and Disney Channel actor Brandon Mychal Smith.
EXCLUSIVE: Carson Kressley is getting his own series on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. Kressley, who is already set to co-host Your OWN Show: Oprah’s Search For the Next TV Star, which will premiere on OWN at its January launch, will also topline Carson-Nation, a makeover series, which will begin production next month for a March premiere. Carson-Nation, from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition creator/ executive producer Tom Forman and Relativity Real, will feature Kressley traveling around the country “to makeover America one town at time and to make peoples lives better.” Executive producing the series with Forman is David Metzler. Kressley, repped by ICM and Untitled, shot to prominence as the breakout star of Bravo’s Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. He recently headlined Lifetime’s How To Look Good Naked and co-hosted ABC’s True Beauty.
EXCLUSIVE: I hear VH1 is close to greenlighting a new reality series starring The Hills‘ Audrina Patridge and executive produced by Mark Burnett. Patridge will segue into the new series after wrapping her turn on ABC’s reality hit Dancing with the Stars. The still untitled project, whose order is expected to be in the 8-10 episode range, will document Patridge’s life with her family as she tries to navigate the world of fame and celebrity in Hollywood. (The Patridge Family anyone?) Burnett will executive produce with Patridge and her manager Dave Fleming.
Patridge, repped by ICM and Mosaic, teamed with Burnett to develop a new reality series built around her in the spring of 2009. MTV ordered a pilot for the project, The Audrina Show, which was to chronicle her daily life. While it ultimately didn’t go to series, sister channel VH1 pursued Patridge and Burnett for a retooled version of the project and to better fit into its brand and ordered it to series. Burnett is in business with VH1 through the new reality series Rock ‘N’ Roll Fantasy Camp he is producing for VH1 Classic. It premiered last week.
CBS has greenlighted The Same Name, an hourlong pilot from one of the masters of comedic celebreality, Cris Abrego. The project, which Abrego executive produces with Eugene Young, is a fish-out-of water comedic series involving regular people and celebrities with whom they happen to share the same name. Each self-contained episode of the show, produced by Endemol-owned 51 Minds, will feature a celebrity as he/she trades life and careers with his/hers name doppelganger
USA Network continues its genre expansion with a big push in reality programming. The top basic cable network is close to ordering its first unscripted series in 5 years, WWE Tough Enough. It is also in the process of hiring a reality executive, and USA programming president Jeff Wachtel has been meeting with top reality production companies to talk about his plans in the arena. USA’s revival of Tough Enough actually came together separately from its current efforts in the unscripted area and stems from the network’ relationship with WWE through USA staple WWE Raw. Tough Enough, which features contestants competing for a contract with WWE, ran on MTV for 3 seasons, and in 2004 it moved to UPN where it aired for a season as part of SmackDown. On USA, it also is expected to run in tandem with USA’s WWE Raw series.
ABC has ordered a new cycle of its summer reality series Wipeout for midseason. ABC already renewed the show for next summer in August, so the winter run will be in addition to the summer one, bringing the total Season 4 order to 24 episodes. Set to premiere in January, the new cycle will take place on a new “Winter Wonderland” course featuring slippery ice, frosty snow and avalanches. New stunts will include Spanker Sleds, the Wipeout Ski Lift and the Polar Bear Run. ABC has kept Wipeout in the summer with the exception of a Super Bowl special that aired during half-time in 2008. But with the network’s new scripted series underperforming, new boss Paul Lee is clearly looking for reinforcements for midseason.
EXCLUSIVE: Nine years after Jerry Bruckheimer TV made a big entrance in reality TV with The Amazing Race, the company is re-teaming with the Race creators for a new reality competition series, this time on ABC. ABC has handed out a six-episode order to Take the Money and Run (form. Catch Me), which Bruckheimer executive produces with Race creators Bertram van Munster and Elise Doganieri as well as Jonathan Littman and Belfast-based producer Philip Morrow, on whose format the series is based. Jerry Bruckheimer TV and Van Munster’s Profiles TV are producing with Horizon Alternative TV, the alternative division of Warner Horizon.
After obesity and addiction, candid kids seems to be the next area for dueling reality series, as Lifetime and TLC prepare to go toe-to-toe with shows hosted by Heidi Klum and Brad Garrett, respectively. Lifetime this morning announced Seriously Funny Kids (working title), a new unscripted series hosted and executive produced by the Project Runway host (and mother of 4), for a 2011 launch. In the vein of Kids Say the Darndest Things, Seriously Funny Kids will feature Klum “interacting with children and bringing out the hilarious and often insightful things they say,” according to Lifetime’s press release. Meanwhile, TLC recently announced a 6-episode order for another series dubbed as a modern take on Kids Say the Darndest Things, hosted by Garrett and executive produced by Ryan Seacrest.
EXCLUSIVE: With 160 million YouTube views under their belt, style-focused Tennessee sisters Elle Fowler, 22, and Blair Fowler, 17 are setting sights on reality TV. After fielding multiple offers, the Fowler sisters have signed with Chris Coelen’s Kinetic Content to develop multi-platform programming around their brand with a focus on a reality series. The Fowler sisters took their hobby of sharing makeup and style tips with other young girls online, quickly building a fan base of millions of young women around the world and developing an Oprah Winfrey-type influence among their constituency, with brands and products
This sounds like a conveniently timed media uproar just as Simon Cowell’s UK-broadcast The X Factor airs its first 2½ hour live show beginning tonight. Or else it’s the 5th recent TV scandal plaguing Cowell. In any case, Simon is defending his show’s producers after a UK newspaper claimed they knew one short-listed contestant faced deportation and told X Factor judge Cheryl Cole not to pick her. Instead, pop singer Cole chose two other contestants over viewer favourite Gamu Nhengu, the Zimbabwe-born 18 year old. Cowell told Deadline that it’s not true that the show’s producers ordered Cole to drop Nhengu. “We were unaware there would be any problem with her visa until this week,” he told Deadline.
EXCLUSIVE: E! is looking to expand its slate of celebreality with a docu-reality series starring actress Lara Flynn Boyle. The cable network has greenlighted a pilot presentation for the project, which will follow the Practice alumna as she splits her time between her life in Texas and her marriage to real estate investor Donald Ray Thomas II and her Hollywood-centric lifestyle in Bel Air. Boyle, who is repped by Fortitude and Rugolo Entertainment, is currently meeting with potential showrunners. E!’s celebrity-driven reality series include mega-hit Keeping Up with the Kardashians and its spinoff Kourtney & Khloe Take Miami as well as Kimora: Life in the Fab Lane on sister channel Style.
EXCLUSIVE: Eli Holzman has been upped to president of Studio Lambert USA, running the U.S. operations of the London-based reality production company behind CBS’ reality hit Undercover Boss. Holzman, who has more than a decade of TV executive experience, joined Studio Lambert in 2008 when the company’s chief executive, top British reality format creator and executive Stephen Lambert, recruited him to launch and lead the U.S. subsidiary of Lambert’s eponymous All3Media-backed production shingle.