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ABC announces plans to air five new reality series this summer


By Reality TV World staff, 05/24/2006 

ABC has announced that will air five new reality shows -- Buy It Now, How to Get the Guy, Master of Champions, One Ocean View and The One: Making a Music Star, an American edition of one of the world's most popular reality singing competition formats -- as part of its summer programming lineup.

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"These shows are exciting additions for ABC and perfect for summer viewing," stated Andrea Wong, the ABC executive vice president responsible for the network's reality programming. "They are light, fun, engaging series that we believe viewers will make appointments with all summer long."

Similar to the staggered approach that it used for the slate of new reality shows that it premiered last summer (which included the network's first season of its smash-hit Dancing With The Stars reality series), the five new shows will debut in a staggered schedule.

First out of the chute will be How to Get the Guy, a six-episode hour-long "docu-soap"-style reality series that will premiere Monday, June 12 at 10PM ET/PT and follow four young, attractive and available women as they look for love in San Francisco. Declaring that they are "ready, willing and able to do anything and everything they have to in order to find true love," Alissa ("the spiritual massage therapist"), Anne ("the girl next door"), Kris ("the party girl"), and Michelle (a "coax trial lawyer") will work with a journalist Teresa Strasser and television host JD Roberto, who will guide the women through the experience and serve as their "life coaches."

How to Get the Guy is being produced by Scout Productions, the production company behind Bravo's Emmy Award-winning Queer Eye reality series. David Collins and David Metzler will executive produce the series.

Two weeks later, ABC will debut Master of Champions, an hour-long variety competition that will premiere Thursday, June 22 at 8PM. Featuring events such as Interpretive Pizza Tossing, Extreme Unicycle Obstacle Course and Amazing Drift Driving, each Master of Champions episode will begin with six contestants competing in such unique and extreme challenges intended to determine who is "the best of the best." After judges pare the group down to three finalists, a live studio audience will determine who will earn the title of "Master Champion."

Master of Champions is being executive produced by Jonas Larsen and Anthony Ross for Y27 Entertainment.

Rounding out ABC's staggered summer reality show schedule will be Buy It Now, One Ocean View and The One: Making a Music Star -- none of which have announced premiere dates yet.

Buy It Now -- originally announced as Make It Happen back in April -- will be a feel-good reality series in which families will (in perhaps the ultimate product placement) "realize one of their most meaningful dreams" by auctioning off items on eBay. Buy It Now (named after eBay's instant purchase feature) will air on a twice-weekly schedule. Each week's first episode will showcase a family, explain their dream, and show them and their relatives, friends, and neighbors identifying items that will help them raise the funds needed to accomplish their dream. A second live follow-up episode will then reveal the final few minutes of online bidding and see if enough money was raised.

Buy It Now is being produced by Flody Suarez (8 Simple Rules), Jay Blumenfield & Tony Marsh (Tuesday Night Book Club), and Tom Mazza, Jak Severson & Danica Krislovich (Treasure Hunters).

One Ocean View -- first announced under the working title of Summer Share earlier this month -- will be a six-episode reality series that will follow the lives and loves of a group of people who'll spend their weekends in a summer house on New York's Fire Island. The show will be produced by Bunim-Murray Productions, the production company responsible for MTV's long-running The Real World, and feature a cast that's "old enough to have real jobs, issues and 'baggage,' but still young enough to leave all that behind and have a great time."

"It's The Real World meets Laguna Beach for adults," Wong told Daily Variety earlier this month. "[Bunim-Murray co-founder] Jon Murray came in with this great development, and we thought it was perfect." According to Wong, ABC (presumably like ever other network that's watched the ratings success that MTV's Laguna Beach has enjoyed) has been looking "to do a fun, frothy show for a while now." While One Ocean View will focus on the cast's weekend adventures, the show's cameras will continue to follow the cast during their weekday lives if an event warrants it.

Jonathan Murray and Joey Carson will executive produce One Ocean View.

Although ABC will be calling it The One: Making a Music Star, The One will actually be an American adaptation of Operacisn Triunfo. Created by reality TV powerhouse Endemol (the Anglo-Dutch production company responsible for numerous reality shows including Big Brother, Fear Factor, and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition), Operacisn Triunfo is a smash-hit Spanish reality singing competition that has aired dozens of editions in other countries (including British and French editions which aired under the Fame Academy and Star Academy titles) for several years.

While it's taken five years for an American network to decide to broadcast an American edition of Operacisn Triunfo, the show's original Spanish edition actually premiered back in Fall 2001 -- the same time as Pop Idol, the British reality singing competition upon which Fox's smash-hit American Idol series (which Fox premiered in Summer 2002) is based. Although the ratings for subsequent editions of the series waned, Operacisn Triunfo's initial Spanish edition season averaged a 50% share and broke Spanish television records with a 68% share for its finale. In France, Star Academy produced an incredible 70% share and has consistently dominated the country's ratings. In the U.K, Fame Academy finished on a ratings high with a 35% share, beating Pop Idol, which had a 31.7% (neither series has aired lately in the U.K., where The X-Factor, a Simon Cowell-created reality music competition, has displaced both programs.)

Unlike Idol, which focuses mainly on the on-stage singing performances of its contestants, the Operacisn Triunfo concept also focuses just as much on the behind-the-scenes activities of its contestants. When they aren't performing, all of the show's contestants are cut off from the outside world and attend a fully functioning boarding school-like music academy in which Big Brother-like hidden cameras continuously record their activities. The music academy offers vocal coaching, choreography/dance lessons, image consulting, fitness experts, media training and celebrity mentors.

Once a week, The One will broadcast a live performance show in which the academy's teachers -- who will also serve as the show's judges -- will nominate three students for Big Brother-like eviction. Immediately following the teachers' announcement, the remaining non-nominated contestants will get to vote to save one of the three from elimination. After the pool of nominated contestants is narrowed to two, home viewers will then get the opportunity to call in and save one of the nominated contestants from elimination. The last contestant left standing will receive a recording contract with a major record company.

If The One's voting format sounds familiar to long-time reality TV viewers it should. CBS's poorly received initial of Big Brother utilized a similar voting format, with the show's houseguests nominating two houseguests for each weekly eviction and home viewers then getting to determine which houseguest would go home. After its poorly rated initial season in which Big Brother viewers quickly voted out all of the show's more controversial houseguests, the show's voting concept was revamped and home viewers were no longer allowed to determine which houseguest went home.

American Idol did briefly tinker with the idea of offering more behind-the-scenes footage during its 2003 second edition, but dropped the concept as its season went on. Last summer's edition of Rock Star, the Mark Burnett-created CBS reality talent competition, originally used a thrice-weekly broadcast schedule that included an episode that focused solely on the competition's behind-the-scenes activities but CBS later dropped the broadcast due to poor ratings.

Nonetheless, ABC and Endemol remain convinced that if presented properly, home viewers will be interested in the following the competition's behind-the-scenes happenings. "There are a lot of shows out there, going back to Star Search, that are performance shows," Endemol USA president David Goldberg told Daily Variety when ABC first announced its Operacisn Triunfo plans back in February. "What we rarely see is what it takes to get to the point where a person is performing onstage. If you have a singer fighting laryngitis and can't hit certain notes, or if you see that person is struggling the last week to do that dance, (showing that) reality brings a heightened attention and interest."

Nor is Goldberg worried that given Idol's dominance, America doesn't have room for another reality music competition series. "There's a different way to do this show," Goldberg told the trade paper. "It's a show we've done for years in Europe. It's ironic that it's taken this long to get this show established here. It co-exists in many markets where Pop Idol is and in some cases it beats it."

While ABC hasn't yet announced any broadcast details beyond a premiere sometime in July, The One is reportedly expected to air over ten weeks, with a thrice-weekly broadcast schedule similar to the one that Rock Star initially used for its first season among the plans under consideration.

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