Keeping it Real Listen up, Fran Tarkenton fans: Sources say CBS has the inside edge on an updated version of the ’80s reality series That’s Incredible! — one of several retro formats that are making the TV rounds. Variety-show producer George Schlatter plans to peddle a new Laugh-In, while Fox is retooling the old In Search Of … series. Speaking of old concepts, several real-life spins on the Around the World in 80 Days concept are also being pitched. ”There are two ideas that I’ve taken at least five pitches on — those adventure races and scavenger hunts,” says Andrea Wong, ABC’s VP of specials. Clearly, the nets are happy to hear any and all reality-show ideas — especially if the TV writers follow through on a threat to hit the picket line next spring over issues of residual pay. That could force the nets to rely on non-scripted shows for summer programming in 2001. ”This is the first time we’ve gone into our back catalog to see what we’ve had in development so we can retool them,” says Eric Schotz of LMNO Prods. (Guinness World Records: Primetime). ”I have got more work than I know what to do with.”
Tribal Counsel And they thought living with Richard was hard. The final four Survivors may face an even tougher task turning their fame into fortune. Advice from the experts: Hire an agent and snag a commercial — fast. Says marketing expert Nova Lanktree: ”The Survivors certainly [won’t] have a larger window than Olympic talent, who notoriously have only one month afterwards to cash in.” That said, they could be slam dunks for Survivor-themed spots that peddle outdoor supplies or athletic gear (Reebok snagged outcasts B.B. and Stacey). Of course, there’s still a question of likability. ”Of the final four, none are truly loved,” says Kathryn Thomas of the media-buying firm Starcom Entertainment. ”To try now to win back the American audience through creative endeavors may not pay off.” Don’t tell that to Gervase, who’s set to appear on UPN’s The Hughleys; neurologist Sean has nabbed gigs with Extra and The Guiding Light. ”Some producers will stunt-cast them without question,” says Martin Lesak, head of TV talent at United Talent Agency. ”But I wouldn’t want to represent them. I’d prefer to have actors who went to Yale and Juilliard — not the island of Pulau Tiga.”
The ‘Tao’ Jones Recently released Sundance fave The Tao of Steve has TV producers scrambling to make it a southwestern Northern Exposure. Kindergarten teacher Duncan North, who coscripted the flick, based on his life as a chubby lothario living in Santa Fe, N.M., says Hollywood is anxious to translate it to the small screen. ”It’s crazy,” says North. ”My agent just rejected an offer that was more than I’ve made in four years.” One downside: Tao lead Donal Logue, who won the Sundance prize, won’t star — he’s been tapped for Fox’s mid-season comedy Grounded for Life.
— Additional reporting by Rebecca Ascher-Walsh