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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Utopia, the way-out-there Fox reality show from John de Mol that would send “pioneers” to settle an uninhabited part of Earth together and figure out how to run it, has posted a teaser trailer featuring bits of interviews with some of those would-be colonists. Fifteen pioneers will be chosen for the experiment, then recorded around the clock, with video on the Internet as well as on TV. The catch, a pioneer can be replaced at any time by one of the show’s audience. It’s based on a Dutch show that’s been running since January. The show premieres for three nights in a single week this fall, beginning Sept. 7. Here’s the teaser:
Reality Check is a Deadline feature series covering the players, programs and trends in reality television.
At the end of the current 18th season of ABC’s Dancing With The Stars, executive producer Conrad Green will leave the show that he has been with since the start. After that many years, end of an era is no hyperbole. Not that the veteran producer and former head of BBC’s Factual Entertainment is getting out of the reality TV game: Green is joining Fox‘s upcoming social experiment reality series Utopia. The series features a group of everyday people who are planted in an isolated, undeveloped location for a whole year and forced to create their own civilization, flaws and all. With that big change coming, Green spoke to Deadline about what the essential skills for success in producing unscripted TV are, the state of singing competition shows and the arrival of Rising Star plus what he would bet on for the next big thing if he were a betting man.
DEADLINE: Big picture things first, what is the state of unscripted TV today?
CONRAD GREEN: I think it’s quite a mature market, at the moment. As in, lots of the big staples have been on air for quite a while. Feels like it’s time for a big, new show that’s completely different to arrive, you know? Competition reality performance shows have been going for quite a long time now, and are still, but aren’t as powerful as they once were, and it feels like it’s time for an innovation. Read More »
Check out the first look at Fox‘s new comedies and dramas as part of the 2014-2015 series orders. Check back for more as they come in.
Gotham – Fall Drama
Produced by Warner Bros TV and based upon characters published by DC Entertainment. From writer/executive producer Bruno Heller, director/executive producer Danny Cannon and executive producer John Stephens.
Gracepoint – Fall Event Series
Produced by Shine America in association with Kudos and Imaginary Friends. From writer/executive producer Chris Chibnall and executive producers Anya Epstein, Dan Futterman, Jane Featherstone,John Goldwyn and Carolyn Bernstein. Futterman and Epstein serve as showrunners.
Red Band Society – Fall Drama
Produced by ABC Studios in association with Amblin TV. From writer/executive producer Margaret Nagle and executive producer Steven Spielberg, Justin Falvey, Darryl Frank and Sergio Aguero and director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon.
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Social experiment format Utopia is getting a German version. The ProSiebenSat.1 Group has acquired rights with the local version to be a co-production between Talpa Media and its German partner, Schwartzkopff TV. In the States, Talpa Media U.S. is working with Fox on the American version for launch later this year. The reality series features a group of everyday people whisked to an isolated, undeveloped location for an entire year and challenged to create their own civilization. Read More »
Television executives are always on the hunt for the proverbial Next Big Thing, and for the past year or so, the Mipcom and Mip-TV markets have emerged as important hubs where some of the hottest new formats are unveiled. Following a strong showing at last fall’s Mipcom, Keshet‘s Rising Star sold around the world, including to ABC in the U.S. What will be the breakout format at Mip-TV which kicks off tomorrow? With the U.S. reality market yet to yield a new tentpole franchise since NBC premiered The Voice three years ago, and most established series more than a decade old, the necessity of finding reinforcements is ever more urgent and means execs need to be constantly vigilant as to where the new possibilities may be hidden. Likening the search to digging for truffles, Jennifer O’Connell, head of Core Media’s U.S. Television Division, says, “We’re really going to be sniffing around everywhere.” It’s important to keep a “very open mind to where a great idea can come from.” Regardless of the provenance, U.S. broadcasters are more apt to take a second look “if someone else did it first… It can be almost like an insurance policy,” she says.
Most agree that the biggest proving grounds for new programming remain the UK, the U.S. and the Netherlands. Israel has also been coming on … Read More »
After his successful TV debut with Netflix’s House Of Cards, David Fincher is spearheading the U.S. adaptation of another British series, this time at HBO. The pay cable network, which aggressively pursued House Of Cards when it was shopped, has teamed with Fincher for Utopia, a drama series project based on the Channel 4 series created by Dennis Kelly and produced by Kudos. Fincher is set to direct the adaptation, which will be written by Gillian Flynn, reteaming with Fincher whose upcoming feature Gone Girl is based on her novel. Both Gone Girl and Utopia are in the thriller genre. The series revolves around the die-hard fans of an iconic, underground graphic novel who are suddenly launched into their own pop-culture thriller when they learn that the author has secretly written a sequel. Unfortunately, the new manuscript is much more than just a book and those on the hunt for it suddenly find themselves in a game of shifting loyalties, conspiracy and shocking twists as the true meaning of the book is slowly revealed (watch a trailer for the original series below). Read More »
UPDATED: In a competitive situation, Fox has picked up Utopia, a new social experiment reality series from Big Brother creator John de Mol and his Talpa Media US. The project is based on a format by de Mol that successfully launched in the Netherlands earlier this month, sparking a lot of interest among U.S. networks. It marks the first series greenlighted by Fox’s new head of alternative Simon Andreae. The show is eyed for a summer launch but that has not been set in stone and will depend on how quickly the network and de Mol select a location and a cast.
Utopia will feature a group of 15 everyday people whisked to an isolated, undeveloped location in the U.S. – for an entire year – and challenges them to create their own civilization. Like the original, the series is envisioned to last a year but its length will depend on what happens in Utopia. “One of the key things we liked about the idea is that is very bold and open,” Andreae said. “They have the opportunity to create a society, and we don’t know to what degree they will succeed — will it be harmonious, or will there be a revolution or another event that will put an end to it?” Like on Big Brother, there will be eliminations. As the Utopians build the new society, each contestant must try to become indispensable to the group or risk being exiled to their regular lives and replaced by potential newcomers. (The original series has new participants joining at part of the elimination process, but it has not been determined whether the Fox version will feature that.) Cameras will follow the pioneers 24/7, with their efforts chronicled weekly on Fox and also online (and possibly on cable). The online component of the original series has been very successful, something the producers will try to replicate in the U.S.
Related: John De Mol’s Social Experiment ‘Utopia’ Off To Strong Start In Holland, Heads To U.S. Read More »
With the talent competition arena pretty saturated by Fox’s American Idol and The X Factor, NBC’s The Voice and America’s Got Talent, soon to be joined by ABC’s Rising Star, and the cooking broadcast market cornered by Gordon Ramsay, reality industry insiders have been tipping social experiments as the next hot unscripted genre. Now the man behind the most successful social experiment format to date, Big Brother creator John de Mol, is throwing his hat into the ring with his latest series, Utopia, in which 15 people set up their own new society. Like he does with most of his formats, which include global hit The Voice and Deal Or No Deal, de Mol launched Utopia in his native Holland, where the show premiered Monday night on SBS 6, part of SBS Broadcasting’s Dutch operations, in which de Mol’s Talpa Media has a 33% stake. The debut exceeded expectations, ranking as SBS 6′s highest-rated nonscripted premiere in six years. It won its time slot and pulled a 25.2% share in adults 18-49, improving the network’s market share in the time period by 500%, and drew almost 1.6 million overall viewers compared to SBS’ average viewership in the slot of 300,000. I hear at least one US network already has reached out to the Utopia producers, with Talpa Media USA’s chief creative officer Stijn Bakkers, executive producer of The Voice, and SVP Sadoux Kim expected to begin meeting with American broadcasters early next week about an U.S. version.
Social experiments formats have been heating up, with former Fox reality topper Mike Darnell also said to be shopping a series in that arena with Shed’s Twenty Twenty. In Utopia, 15 contestants leave their current lives to create their own ideal mini-society while being followed by hundreds of cameras. (Watch a trailer in Dutch below.) Read More »