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Eye races to reality ‘World’

Bruckheimer joins craze with adventure skein

While NBC gets ready to launch a civilian into space, CBS is preparing to send eight couples on a “Race Around the World.”

In another example of network television’s continuing fascination with all things nonfiction, the Eye has made a 13-episode, on-air commitment to a new reality adventure skein from producers Jerry Bruckheimer and Bertram Van Munster, in association with Touchstone Television and CBS Prods. Van Munster and Elise Doganieri will serve as co-creators.

“Race Around the World” will send eight pairs of people on a trek to 11 cities in 30 days, starting and ending in New York City. The couples — who could be husband and wife, grandfather and grandson, two frat brothers or virtually any other combo– will have to perform various tasks at every stop, adding to the sense of adventure and competition.

At intervals throughout the competish, slower couples will be eliminated until just two remain. The pair that lands back in New York will win a yet-to-be-determined cash prize.

Cameras will follow the contestants’ every move, documenting the trials, tribulations and adventure of the monthlong trek.

“Race” is being targeted for a summer 2001 debut, though it could air sooner. It’s the first major commitment to a reality skein by CBS since the web’s summer success with “Survivor.”

Deal is a straight license fee pact and does not include provisions for sharing ad revenues. NBC recently inked a rich cash and ad revenue deal with “Survivor” exec producer Mark Burnett for “Destination Mir,” in which an average American will be sent into space (Daily Variety, Sept. 12).

“This show is ultimately about relationships, which is what people understand,” said Ghen Maynard, VP of alternative programming for CBS. “This isn’t about a race or travel or running around the world. It’s about how various relationships are impacted (by the stresses of the competition).”

Maynard is responsible for bringing “Survivor” to CBS.

“Race” is Bruckheimer’s second series for CBS. He’s currently exec producing the Eye’s upcoming crime drama “C.S.I.”

“We’ve had a great relationship with CBS on ‘C.S.I.’ We’re thrilled this project went there,” said Jonathan Littman, president of TV production for Bruckheimer Films.

Touchstone Television topper Steve MacPherson said his studio is “excited to be in business with CBS on this project.”

“They’ve been incredibly supportive to both Bruckheimer and Touchstone,” MacPherson said. “Given the success of ‘Survivor,’ CBS seems like the perfect spot to be.”

Littman said Bruckheimer will try to duplicate in “Race” some of “the flair we bring to our movies. We want to make it look different, sound different, feel different.”

Van Munster is a veteran at following people around: He spent seven years as an exec producer on Fox’s reality granddaddy, “Cops.” Most recently, he exec produced the syndie skein “Wild Things.”

“Race” was packaged by CAA.

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