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NBC's 'The Biggest Loser' weight-loss reality show to premiere October 19


By Wade Paulsen, 09/28/2004 

If you have been super-sized, NBC claims it might be able to help you.

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On Tuesday, October 19, at 8PM ET/PT, NBC will premiere The Biggest Loser, a show in which overweight contestants lose weight -- or, in NBC's words, they "receive the opportunity to undergo a radical physical makeover without any kind of surgery." The show will be hosted by stand-up comedian and former talk-show host Caroline Rhea, who has discussed her own weight-loss struggles in her comedy routines.

The firm announcement of The Biggest Loser means that NBC's much-ballyhooed boxing-reality show The Contender, which was originally scheduled for this time slot, will now definitely be postponed, probably until the rumored January date.

The simple idea of the one-hour unscripted series, familiar to dieters the world over, is that "whomever loses the most...wins." Losing weight will be difficult, though, as the 12 contestants (six male and six female) will be faced with "real-life temptations" that their new "approved weight-loss skills and resources" should help them overcome -- if they want to win, that is.

The twelve contestants will be divided into two teams of six, cleverly named the Blue team and the Red team. The teams will be mixed by gender (unlike, say, the current editions of Survivor and The Apprentice) and will be organized to be approximately equal in weight. Each team will then be assigned a "team trainer" to teach it individual fitness and nutrition regimens. According to NBC, one trainer has a tough 'boot camp' attitude while the other offers a much calmer approach yet remains strict and focused on results. So ... will the carrot or the stick work better?

Viewers will also have the opportunity to study and learn the two dieting methods that the "celebrity trainers" incorporate into their team's nutrition plan. If the success of the Atkins and South Beach diet books is any indication, this part of The Biggest Loser will soon become its own book.

During each week's broadcast, the teams will face difficult and demanding daily work-outs culminating in a weekly competition in the form of a challenge, but the moment of truth will come during a weekly weigh-in. At the weigh-in, each team member will be weighed to determine the total pounds lost as a team. The team that loses the least amount of weight is faced with having to eliminate one of their own. In the end, the winner of The Biggest Loser walks away with $250,000 and a healthier body augmented by new coping skills ... or so NBC claims.

We have another suggestion: the teams could go on the Mark Burnett Survivor diet.

The personal fitness trainers on The Biggest Loser will be Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper. Michaels' celebrity clientele includes entertainment mogul David Geffen, Amanda Peet (Something's Gotta Give), Vanessa Marcil (Vegas), Amber Tamblyn (Joan of Arcadia), Sarah Paulson (Down with Love) and Jeremy Renner (S.W.A.T.). Harper is a consultant to trainers and teachers alike, and has trained such celebrities as Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Stiller, Ellen DeGeneres, Melissa Etheridge, Guy Ritchie (pre-Kabbalah, we guess), Lauren Dern, Selma Blair, Jessica Alba and Dermot Mulroney.

To be sure that the contestants do not drop dead on the air from all the unaccustomed exercise, they will be under the supervision of off-camera medical experts, including Robert Huizenga, author of "You're OK, It's Just a Bruise," the book on which the feature film Any Given Sunday was based, and UCLA nutrition professor Dave Heber.

Executive Producer Ben Silverman stated that "The Biggest Loser celebrates hard work and rewards discipline. Hopefully we will inspire an overweight America to get fit." But not so fit that couch potato Americans stop watching television on Tuesdays at 8PM, of course.

The Biggest Loser is a production of Reveille, 25/7 Productions, 3 Ball Productions and NBC Universal Television Studio. Ben Silverman (The Restaurant), David Broome (Jingle Ball Rock), and the trio of JD Roth, John Foy and Todd A. Nelson (For Love or Money, Endurance) are the executive producers.

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