CBS to debut walled-off 'There Goes the Neighborhood' on August 9
By Christopher Rocchio, 06/30/2009
CBS has announced There Goes the Neighborhood, a new reality competition series that will feature families battling against each other on their own property behind a 20-foot wall, will premiere Sunday, August 9 at 9PM ET/PT.
There Goes the Neighborhood, which the network has been producing under the Block Party working title, will begin with eight families living in suburban Kennesaw, GA who will be almost completely cut-off from the outside world by a massive 20-foot wall erected around their houses.
In addition, the families will also have "virtually no electricity and no ability to text-message, watch television or surf the Internet," according to CBS.
Matt Rogers, a third-season American Idol finalist who has previously hosted Discovery Channel's Really Big Things, will serve as There Goes the Neighborhood's host.
During each episode, the families will compete against each other in various challenges. One family will be eliminated each episode until only one group remains -- claiming the $250,000 grand prize.
"This show is truly a social experiment," said executive producer Mike Fleiss. "We've never seen anything like it before. An entire neighborhood trapped behind a giant wall. It's insane!"
Earlier this month, The Atlanta Journal-Constitutionreported that 20-foot walls and scaffolding were being constructed around nine homes in the Annandale section of Legacy Park in Kennesaw.
"Once we start filming, it's in the lockdown situation," CBS executive Colleen Sullivan told The Journal-Constitution at the time.
In addition, Kennesaw mayor Mark Mathews said neighbors in the community met with a CBS producer earlier in the year to learn more about the show.
Once the walls were completely erected -- eventually stretching 2,000 feet around eight homes -- The Journal-Constitutionreported the set was like "the outside of a maximum-security penitentiary -- minus the barbed wire" but complete with off-duty Kennesaw police officers stationed on the road to direct traffic.
The families lockdown inside the walls began on June 15, according to The Journal-Constitution.
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There Goes the Neighborhood executive producer Jay Bienstock told The Journal-Constitution that it took "months" to find eight families on contiguous properties willing to appear on the reality show -- adding Kennesaw agreed to the disruption caused by filming due to boost it provided to the local economy.
In addition, Bienstock described the families as middle class and typically living in two-story suburban homes in the 2,500 square foot range.
"It could be Anywhere, USA," he told The Journal-Constitution. "It's like we hit the lottery."
While CBS felt like it hit the jackpot, the same apparently couldn't be said for some Kennesaw residents -- who began to complain about the 20-foot wall as filming continued into last week.
"I pay $600 a year in [home owners associaton] fees to live in a quiet, kid-friendly neighborhood," resident Anthony LaBorde toldThe Journal-Constitution in a June 21 report. "It's been just the opposite of that for a month and a half."
Specifically referring to the wall, LaBorde called it "big... gray, and it's a pain in the a**."
Fellow resident Mike Altman shared LaBorde's displeasure and felt residents should have had more of a say on whether the show could film in Annandale.
"I moved out here for the peace and quiet and security, and the [home owners association] and the City of Kennesaw took that away," he told The Journal-Constitution. "It's upsetting because the [home owners association] didn't let us in on the decision."
Allen Massey, the Legacy Park associaton's president, told The Journal-Constitution that while CBS got permission from the organization, it was unnecessary because they are filming on private property and had the consent of each of the involved families.
"I think overall it's going to help us out," Massey told The Journal-Constitution about the reality series' impact. "Hopefully, when people relocate to this area from across the country, they'll think of Legacy Park."
Jim Davis -- who lives across the street from where the wall was erected -- said he plans on tuning in to watch the show once it premieres.
"I'm not a big reality TV fan, but I'll watch it because they're my neighbors," he told The Journal-Constitution.
There Goes the Neighborhood is produced by Next Entertainment and Jay Bienstock Productions in association with Warner Horizon Television.