Fox orders real-life 'Someone's Gotta Go' layoff competition series
By Christopher Rocchio, 04/08/2009
Fox has found a way to turn job losses due to the tough economy into a new reality series.
The network has ordered Someone's Gotta Go, which will take place in real businesses across America and give employees the power to decide who among them gets fired, Daily Varietyreported Wednesday.
"It's Survivor meets The Office," Fox reality chief Mike Darnell told Variety.
"When someone is arbitrarily let go the first reaction usually is 'How come that person was fired when another idiot is still here?' This finally gives employees a chance to make that decision instead of a boss."
Someone's Gotta Go is being produced by Big Brother's Endemol USA production company, according to Variety, which added the series is already in production and could premiere by late summer or early fall.
While Fox and Endemol have remained tight-lipped on several aspects of the show's format, Variety reported each episode will feature a different small business that has been forced to downsize its staff due to the country's current economic climate.
The employees will get to review the company's human resources files -- including salary information -- while also having the chance to speak their minds about each other face-to-face.
In addition, the employees will be helped by a "professional business coach/employment consultant who will double as the series host," Variety reported. Fox and Endemol declined to reveal the host's identity.
Each episode will conclude with the employees voting on who loses their job, according to Variety, which added the terminated worker will likely receive a "small severance."
Darnell told Variety that Someone's Gotta Go's concept came to him after he saw a television news report about a struggling business owner who let her employees know each other's salary information, which led to a conversation about who was making too much and cost cuts.
Fox subsequently teamed with Endemol for the series after both had been contemplating reality show formats based in the workplace, according to Variety.
"We're always trying to find the next thing that is topical and timely in the zeitgeist. What could be more current than the financial crisis and dealing with the realities of losing jobs? This is an extension of that real-life experience," Endemol North America executive David Goldberg told Variety.
"For a lot of people, it takes the pressure off them. As a boss myself, I don't want to have to make those decisions. It's safe to say that it hasn't been difficult to find companies willing to participate."
Darnell reiterated Someone's Gotta Go has a similar feel to The Office and added the reality show is even being filmed in a documentary style similar to the scripted NBC sitcom, Variety reported.
"The biggest show on TV about offices is a fictional show that looks like a reality show," he told Variety.
Darnell and Goldberg told Variety they have also decided to preemptively confront potential legal problems by taking "extra precautions" by vetting the show through several legal channels.
"We've consulted with labor attorneys and have covered all of our bases," Goldberg told Variety. "We've got an employment expert and business consultant to work with us through this process. There is a professional involved that brings the show an element of credibility."
"A lot of things had to be signed off [before proceeding with the show]," added Darnell.