Get ready for TV's reality onslaught
Plus, the producers of ''The Mole'' ain't talkin'... or else
THE REAL DEALS Judging from its development slate, UPN may want to change its name to the Unscripted Programming Network. After doing bang up business in October with the shockumentary specials ”World’s Nastiest Neighbors” and ”Cheating Spouses Caught on Tape” (both originally developed at Fox), the netlet is stockpiling reality series for 2001.
First, World Wrestling Federation chief Vince McMahon is cocreating and executive producing a reality game show titled ”Manhunt.” The series, which has received a six episode order and is being readied for a March 2001 debut, features a group of contestants who are dropped into a remote locale and given a 24 hour head start before being tracked by a quartet of professional bounty hunters; those who evade capture win cash and prizes. (UPN president- CEO Dean Valentine likens ”Manhunt” to ”grown up Lazer Tag.”)
It has also ordered a ”Cheating Spouses” sequel, and a show called ”America’s Filthiest Restaurants” (ewww!). And just when you thought it couldn’t get any sleazier, UPN picked up the singles shackled together freakfest ”Chains of Love” (which NBC dumped) for next year. But don’t chide Valentine for grabbing the shock TV mantle once worn with pride by Fox: ”We’re happy to give our audience what they enjoy. Self righteous nobility is extraordinarily unappealing. I will have none of it.”
AND SO ON… The price of being a blabbermouth just went up. Stone Stanley Entertainment, producer of the ABC reality series ”The Mole” (set to debut in January), forced all involved in the show — from crew to contestants — to sign a confidentiality agreement prior to production. Those who divulge any secrets about the series — in which a team tries to complete complex tasks while one of its own works to sabotage the group’s efforts — must pay a $10 million penalty for said transgression.
That’s more than double the $4 million fine the folks at ”Survivor” were subject to. So how did Stone Stanley settle on the $10 million fee? Says ”Mole” spokesman Matthew Marcus: ”I’m afraid that information is confidential.”