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Fox picks up U.S. version of Holland's new 'Utopia' reality series


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 01/24/2014 

Fox has announced it's ordered an American version of Big Brother creator John de Mol's latest reality format, Utopia, which challenges participants to create a perfect utopian civilization while surviving at an isolated, undeveloped location for an entire year.

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"Utopia will be the largest, most ambitious social experiment on television, and I'm thrilled that Talpa Media USA has chosen Fox as its U.S. broadcast partner," new Fox reality chief Simon Andreae said in a statement.

"The series offers people from all walks of life the chance to start all over again and re-write the rules of civilization as we know it. It addresses fascinating and fundamental questions about human law, morality and social structures, wrapped in an irresistible and truly forward-thinking television format."

Utopia will feature "pioneers" living in an environment together with no existing power structures and limited amenities. The "inhabitants" will be tasked with building a new society and attempting to become indispensable to the group, otherwise, they'll risk being "exiled" back to their regular lives and replaced by potential newcomers.

"Fox's speed and passion for the project, combined with its pioneering reputation in the unscripted field, make it the perfect home for this unique proposition," de Mol said in a statement.

"The key questions Utopia asks are, 'Are people able to create an ideal society from scratch? And will it be ultimate happiness or complete chaos?' What makes this even more interesting to watch, both on television and online, is the question that viewers undoubtedly will ask themselves, 'What would I do?'"

Utopia premiered in Holland earlier this month and has drawn strong ratings.

Similar to Big Brother, the "inhabitants" will be recorded 24/7 and live feeds will be available online. While additional details have yet to be revealed, home viewers can become "a valuable and powerful asset to the community," according to the network.

The elimination format of the current Dutch version of Utopia has three inhabitants facing eviction as two new potential contestants simultaneously arrive. One of the two newbies will be forced to leave, but the one who gets to stay has the power to decide which one of the three remaining inhabitants will definitely be eliminated.

The participants initially nominate two of their own for eviction, while viewers select the original third nomination.

"I was really drawn to the fundamentals of the format. The idea that we're able to help a new microculture start, it was irresistible and so cleanly thought out," Andreae told The Hollywood Reporter.

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