NBC has announced it's ordered Celebrity Circus, the working title for a new Dancing with the Stars-like reality series that will follow celebrities as they compete alongside professional circus troupes.

Celebrity Circus is scheduled air on NBC prior to the network's coverage of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, which will commence August 8.  NBC previously announced Nashville Star's sixth season and American Gladiators' second installment are also scheduled to air this summer prior to the Olympic coverage.

Produced by Endemol USA -- the global production giant that produces Big Brother, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Deal or No Deal, and many other unscripted shows --  Celebrity Circus is based on a reality format that other Endemol divisions have previously used in Portugal, Argentina and Australia.

"We are extremely excited to be bringing this show to American audiences," said Endemol USA president David Goldberg.  "Every week this show will bring big thrills and bigger entertainment to our audience who can look forward to some very adventurous television."

Each episode of Celebrity Circus will feature "jaw-dropping performances and inspirational stories as the competitive journey unfolds," according to NBC, adding "the performances that rival contemporary Las Vegas-styled circus shows."

"This show will draw our favorite celebrities out of their comfort zone and into a stunning and magical circus environment that allows them to showcase their unseen skills," said NBC executive Craig Plestis.  "It's a fresh concept from our friends at Endemol and is unlike anything else currently in the TV landscape."

Goldberg told Daily Variety that celebrities participating in the show will both train and perform in a "real circus," and added the stars will be judged by a panel of professional circus entertainers. 

"It won't be shot against a fabricated backdrop," Goldberg explained. "It will take you into the craziness of the real thing."

Goldberg said he approached NBC with the idea for Celebrity Circus "a while ago," according to Variety, and Plestis added that he and NBC Entertainment co-chairman Ben Silverman have been discussing the show for months.

"This has been part of our gameplan for a while," he told Variety.  "When people are switching around their TV channels, they're going to stick to this like flypaper,.  It's going to be a very fresh perspective on a performance show."

Plestis added while the show shares some similarities with ABC's Dancing with the Stars, Celebrity Circus is "bigger, bolder and more death-defying."

"You can break a nail doing that show," he told Variety.  "You can break a leg on ours."
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Celebrity Circus will reportedly have some company under the big top, as ABC is also planning a "souped-up revival" of the campy 1980s show Circus of the Stars, Variety reported.

ABC is currently in "serious negotiations" for Circus of the Stars following a "fierce bidding war with at least one other network," according to Variety.  Michael Dempsey will executive produce the series along with original Circus of the Stars executive producer Bunny Stivers.

In addition, CBS and Fox have also "expressed interest" in the celebrity circus format, according to Variety.