While Treasure Hunters' global format invokes obvious comparisons to CBS's long-running The Amazing Race, NBC says that unlike The Amazing Race, Treasure Hunters will focus on the solving of its puzzle rather than the race itself -- a description that makes the series sound more like a reality version of 2004's National Treasure hit movie that starred Nicolas Cage (and ironically, like The Amazing Race, was also produced by Jerry Bruckheimer.)
"It's inspired by the success of books like The Da Vinci Code," NBC executive Jeff Gaspin told Daily Variety when the network first announced the series in March 2005..
In addition to being "inspired" by The Da Vinci Code, Treasure Hunters also shares another link to the popular novel -- Brian Grazer, the Hollywood producer who, along with Ron Howard, co-founded Imagine Entertainment. Grazer, who served as one of the producers of Howard's recently released The Da Vinci Code movie adaptation, also serves as one of Treasure Hunters' executive producers. Similar to Dreamworks Television's involvement with Mark Burnett's The Contender reality boxing series (the second season of which will premiere on ESPN on July 18), Treasure Hunters marks Imagine Television's first foray into the world of reality television.
Joining Imagine Television on Treasure Hunters' production team are NBC Universal Television Studio; Magical Elves, the folks behind Bravo's Project Runway, Project Greenlight, and Top Chef reality shows; and Madison Road Entertainment, a 2-year-old "branded entertainment" (ie. memorable product placement) marketing firm that has begun to branch into producing its own unscripted programming. As a result, the show's credits will list no fewer than seven executive producers -- Imagine's Grazer and David Nevins; Magical Elves' Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz; and Madison Road's Tom Mazza, Danica Krislovich and Jak Severson.
The first team to solve Treasure Hunters' puzzle will receive an undisclosed prize that NBC is describing as a "treasure beyond their imagination." Like The Amazing Race, Treasure Hunters' teams will be eliminated as their journey progresses. Treasure Hunters will be hosted by Laird Macintosh, an actor who also serves as the host of ESPN2's Ultimate Playground series,
TEAM "MISS USA"
• Melissa Witek, a 25-year-old from Cocoa Beach, FL (Miss USA Florida 2005)
• Kaitlyn Christopher, a 20-year-old from Indianapolis, IN (Miss USA Indiana 2005)
• Kristen Johnson, a 24-year-old from Evanston, IL (Miss USA Kentucky 2005)