[05/05/03 - 12:00 AM]
Reality to Dominate NBC's Summer Slate
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- NBC will once again ramp up its commitment to reality television this summer as in addition to the return of "Crime & Punishment," "Dog Eat Dog" and "Meet My Folks," the Peacock will launch a half-dozen or so new reality series. In total viewers can expect to get at least one hour of new programming on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday nights for most of the summer.

Here's a rundown of what to expect (taken from NBC's press release):

DOG EAT DOG (premieres with back to back episodes Tuesday, May 27, 8 - 9 p.m. ET and 9 - 10 p.m. ET) - This in-studio game show returns for a second season and combines extreme stunts and outrageous dares with smarts and strategy, is a mixed breed from both the producer of NBC�s hit reality series "Fear Factor" and the producer of the reality game show "Weakest Link." Brooke Burns ("Baywatch") hosts each one-hour episode that pits six players against one another in a game in which the final "top dog," the winner may actually be the biggest surprise. Each week, six new contestants begin the game by spending a day together, undergoing various tests of intellect and brawn, so that as a result they may judge each other�s strengths and weaknesses. Re-convening the next day on the elaborate "Dog Eat Dog" stage, they then set out to find the top dog - someone who could walk home with $25,000 in prize money. "Dog Eat Dog" is a production of NBC Studios in association with BBC-Worldwide, and Matt Kunitz ("Fear Factor") and Stuart Krasnow ("Weakest Link") are the executive producers.

FAME (two hour premiere Wednesday, May 28, 8-10 p.m. ET) - The "Fame" series will chronicle host Debbie Allen�s attempts to recruit multi-talented performers (ages 16 and up) from across the country, followed by an intense "boot camp" drill by Allen. As the group hones its skills and routines in front of celebrity judges, family and friends, the field is narrowed. Viewers at home will determine who ultimately travels the path all the way to "Fame." "Fame" is produced by MGM Television Entertainment and Stone Stanley Entertainment with David G. Stanley, Scott A. Stone and multiple Emmy-Award winner Jeff Margolis serving as executive producers.

CRIME & PUNISHMENT (premieres June 1, 10 - 11 p.m. ET) - Dick Wolf, creator and executive producer of NBC�s powerhouse "Law & Order" franchise, and Bill Guttentag, 2003 Oscar winner for the documentary "Twin Towers" (an honor he shares with the producing team at Wolf Films), return to San Diego for season two of the critically acclaimed unscripted drama series "Crime & Punishment." Hailed as "riveting, addictive and well told" by Time magazine, this real-life look at the world of criminal justice chronicles actual cases brought to trial by the San Diego County District Attorney�s office. Filmed in high-definition video, the series combines cinema verit� footage - going behind the scenes with prosecutors as they investigate crimes and prepare for trial - with three-camera courtroom coverage, giving it the look and feel of a fictional drama series. "Crime & Punishment" is produced by Wolf Films, Shape Pictures and Anonymous Content in association with Universal Television Distribution. Wolf, Guttentag (who also has an Oscar win for the documentary "You Don�t Have to Die") and David Kanter ("Traffic") are co-creators and executive producers. Peter Jankowski ("Law & Order") also serves as executive producer.

FOR LOVE OR MONEY (two hour premiere Monday, June 2, 9-11 p.m. ET) - In this new unscripted drama series, 15 beautiful girls come for love but are surprised to learn in the first episode that there is also a million dollar prize at stake - but the winner and the bachelor will not know that she ultimately must choose between the man of her dreams or $1 million. Jordan Murphy ("Boston Public") hosts the six-episode series, guiding the contestants through numerous twists and turns as they try to win the heart of a handsome and charming Dallas defense attorney. Though the bachelor is unaware of the $1 million incentive, the women know from the beginning that the lucky girl he chooses will win the money - prompting viewers to wonder if they�re really pursuing him "For Love or Money." "For Love or Money" is a production of Nash Entertainment & 3 Ball Productions. Bruce Nash (NBC�s "Meet My Folks," "Mr. Personality") is the executive producer, along with J.D. Roth ("Endurance," "Moolah Beach"), Todd Nelson ("Endurance," "Moolah Beach") and John Foy ("The Martin Short Show").

MEET MY FOLKS (premieres Monday, June 9, 10-11 p.m. ET) - NBC�s hit relationship show, returns with new episodes, including two special two-part episodes. One features five men competing for a trip to Australia with a gorgeous swimsuit model. In the second two-parter, five competing girls are surprised to learn they have to get up stage and sing at a popular nightclub - and even more shocked to see where their "bad facts" are revealed - as they try and win a trip to Greece with a handsome California college student. Making a return appearance will be Giancarlo Maniaci, whose appearance as a contestant on the show last summer generated so much viewer mail that he was asked to come back to the show -- but this time, three women will compete to win a trip with him. Another summer episode features three men vying for a trip to Hawaii with Janelle Matulich, a cheerleader for the San Francisco 49ers football team. Viewers can also expect to see more outrageous "secret tasks," more shocking revelations about each player�s past and the notorious "lie-detector" tests. "Meet My Folks" is from NBC Studios and Nash Entertainment. Bruce Nash ("For Love or Money," "Mr. Personality") and Scott Satin ("The Most Outrageous Game Show Moments," "Extreme Gong Show") are the executive producers.

LAST COMIC STANDING: THE SEARCH FOR THE FUNNIEST PERSON IN AMERICA (premieres Tuesday, June 10, 9 -10 p.m. ET) - "Last Comic Standing: The Search for the Funniest Person in America" is hosted and executive-produced by actor/comedian Jay Mohr ("Mohr Sports"). The new series has an eight-episode commitment and will provide a new spin on alternative programming as it features a nationwide talent search for professional and non-professional comedians (both male and female). Once the selection process is narrowed to 10 finalists, after the semi-finals in New York and Los Angeles, the program will then follow the comedians as they live together in a house and compete for the ultimate prize-an exclusive talent contract with NBC. "Last Comic Standing" is from Peter Engel Productions in association with NBC Enterprises and Giraffe Productions. Peter Engel, Jay Mohr and Barry Katz are executive producers. Rob Fox is co-executive producer.

Other news and notes:

-- "Dateline NBC" will continue to offer fresh installments all summer long.

-- A second wave of reality series, including "The Restaurant" and "Beauty and the Average Joe," will join NBC's lineup shortly after the July 4 holiday.

-- Repeats of most of NBC's scripted dramas will take a powder for all or part of the summer, including "Ed," "Third Watch," "Crossing Jordan" and "The West Wing."

-- "The Next Action Star" has been pushed back until midseason 2004 while "Perfect Partners" (a.k.a. "Love Shack") is also being eyed for a delay.

-- NBC hopes at least one of its new reality series will be successful enough to merit a midseason 2004 order.

-- While NBC entertainment president Jeff Zucker told reporters in January he planned to launch two new scripted series during the summer, those plans have been put on hold.

Note: This article was updated on May 6 with additional program information.

  [may 2003]  

· ED (NBC)

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