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ABC to air four new reality shows and new 'Wife Swap' episodes this summer


By Reality TV World staff, 04/28/2005 

ABC announced Tuesday that it will premiere four new reality shows this summer, plus broadcast ten new episodes of Wife Swap, the popular reality series that premiered as part of its 2004-2005 primetime programming schedule.

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Part of a larger ABC original summer programming strategy that includes the broadcast of its big-budget Empire limited series and new summer 10PM ET/PT time periods for repeats of its Lost and Desperate Housewives freshman hit series, the new reality series will be Dancing With The Stars, The Scholar, Brat Camp, and Welcome To The Neighborhood.

Premiering Wednesday, June 1 at 9PM ET/PT, Dancing With The Stars is a six-episode adaptation of Strictly Come Dancing, a popular United Kingdom program broadcast by the BBC and produced by BBC Worldwide. An unusual reality concept, Dancing With The Stars will feature six celebrities paired with leading professional dancers and training to compete in a live knockout ballroom dancing competition. Similar to Fox's American Idol, Dancing With The Stars will have an audience participation element, with each episode allowing viewers to vote for the dancer that they feel has best learned to master and execute the difficult dance moves.

"I am fully aware that this may sound like the craziest show anyone has ever heard of," ABC executive Andrea Wong stated in last month's announcement of the network's pickup of the series. "But in a world where it's easier for reality series to imitate than innovate, I just loved how fresh this format is. And the show's global success just shows how audiences around the world find it to be surprising, and undeniably fun."

Format Entertainment's Richard Hopkins will executive produce ABC's Dancing With The Stars adaptation.

Beginning the following week, ABC will take viewers back to school with The Scholar. Premiering Monday, June 6 at 8PM ET/PT, The Scholar will feature ten of America's brightest high school students competing for all-expenses paid scholarship to the college or university of their choice. Filmed on location at the University of Southern California, The Scholar will offer a $250,000 prize to the needy student who best demonstrates excellence in the areas of academics, leadership, creativity and community service while facing sudden-death oral exams and questioning from an Ivy League scholarship committee.

"This show is a living application to find the perfect kid, one of America's best and brightest, to send to college," Wong told Variety when The Scholar was first announced last fall. "We're looking at leadership qualities, charisma, intelligence, all the things it takes. The different challenges will all be organic to the application process."

Based on an original idea by Jaye Pace, Shannon Meairs and Waxman Williams Entertainment, The Scholar is executive produced by Steve Martin, Joan Stein, Bunim/Murray Production's Jon Murray, and sitcom titans Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner of Carsey-Werner (The Cosby Show, Roseanne) fame. Continuing the ongoing trend in which established scripted production companies partner with veteran reality TV producers as they begin to dip their toes into unscripted programming, The Scholar will be Carsey and Werner's first reality project.

Sometime in July, ABC will debut its other two summer reality series -- Brat Camp and Welcome To The Neighborhood.

Like Dancing With The Stars, Brat Camp is based on a United Kingdom program of the same name created by Twenty Twenty Productions. Produced stateside by Arnold Shapiro and Allison Grodner (the same folks responsible for the last four editions of CBS's Big Brother, UPN's The Road To Stardom With Missy Elliott, Bravo's Blow Out, etc.), Brat Camp will follow six families that decide to send their troubled teenagers to the Sagewalk Wilderness Therapy Camp, a therapeutic wilderness intervention program located in the high desert country of Central Oregon.

"This show will feel more like a documentary than most reality shows," said Wong told Daily Variety when the network first announced plans for the show back in January. "It won't feel as fabricated."

If the concept sounds familiar to some diehard reality viewers, it should -- the network's ABC Family cable channel aired broadcasts of the original UK Brat Camp series earlier this year.

According to Variety, the nine participants range in ages between 14 and 19, and while they're not delinquents, Grodner stated that "virtually all of them are doing illegal things involving drugs and alcohol."

Despite the fact that ABC describes Sagewalk as a "boot camp-style program" in its press announcement, Grodner had stressed to Variety that the program wasn't an adolescent boot camp. "This is not about yelling or screaming at kids. It's not a military camp," she told the trade paper. "It's about taking kids out of their comfort zone, getting them back to basics and helping them learn how to face their issues."

Last but not least, Welcome To The Neighborhood will feature seven diverse families competing to win a beautiful home -- with the cul-de-sac's neighbors deciding who wins the competition. Billed as chronicling "the building of a community," Welcome To The Neighborhood is from MGM, New Screen Concepts and the Jay and Tony Show Productions, with Rob Lee, Chuck Bangert, Lou Gorfain, Jay Blumenfield and Tony Marsh serving as executive producers.

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