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Fox orders new 'Secret Millionaire' reality series for midseason


By Christopher Rocchio, 05/15/2008 

Fox has announced its ordered Secret Millionaire, the working title of a new reality series that will follow wealthy Americans as they leave their lavish lifestyles to learn what it's like to try and survive in some of the country's most impoverished neighborhoods.

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Secret Millionaire is currently slated to air in the Thursdays at 9PM ET/PT time period as part of Fox's 2008-2009 midseason programming lineup.

An American adaptation of the U.K.'s The Secret Millionaire, each episode of the series will follow the wealthy participants as they are disguised and go undercover to various impoverished neighborhoods for roughly a week to meet different poverty-stricken people and experience what it's like to live their lifestyle.

On the last day of their experience, the millionaires will reveal their true identities to the penniless people and also give at least $100,000 of their own money -- often times more -- to those they've met.

"How often do we see somebody who's homeless on the street and wonder what it would be like to live like that?" Fox reality programming chief Mike Darnell asked The Hollywood Reporter. "Whereas the superwealthy are so detached from that experience. This is a really clever conceit and has a great emotional arc to it."

Secret Millionaire is produced by RDF USA, with Chris Coelen, Greg Goldman and Bruce Toms serving as executive producers. 

The show's producers cast participants with assets in the "triple-digit-million range," according to The Reporter, which added the wealthy individuals have also lived "sheltered lives."  While most of the show's participants will be men, Secret Millionaire will also feature some wealthy women.

"It's going to be huge," Coelen told The Reporter. "It's got a 'fish out of water' element -- which is always fun -- and it's got the inspirational stories about what these people are doing in their communities. And then there's an unbelievable emotional payoff."

RDF Media's U.K. branch produces the show's British version, which has aired two seasons on Channel 4.  The network recently ordered the show for a third installment.

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