‘Fear’ drives cabler

Game Show Net grabs skein similar to NBC hit

The Game Show Network, salivating for the big ratings chalked up by “Fear Factor” on NBC, has bought U.S. rights to “Who Dares Wins,” an Australian clone of the Peacock hit.

Rich Cronin, president and CEO of GSN, also said that he has hired Bob Boden as the new head of programming for the cable channel. Boden succeeds Jake Tauber, who left two months ago.

In addition to “Who Dares Wins,” Cronin said GSN has bought two gameshow reruns, “Press Your Luck,” from Pearson TV, and “The $1.98 Beauty Contest,” from Sony Pictures Entertainment, which is co-owner of GSN with Liberty Digital.

Youth appeal

Cronin said he bought “Dares,” “Luck” and “Beauty” because all three have the potential of drawing younger viewers to the channel, which tends to suffer the eternal curse of the gameshow: It attracts mostly older people, the least desirable demographic on Madison Avenue.

“Who Dares Wins” should have youth appeal because it “features the kinds of stunts that turn up all the time on ‘Fear Factor,'” Cronin said, including daredevil feats like hanging by a rope ladder from a helicopter that’s flying through various obstacles.

GSN has bought 56 half-hours of “Dares” from Australian exec producers David Mason and Adrian Brant. Show will run every weekend beginning Sept. 1.

The reruns of “Press Your Luck” and “$1.98 Beauty Contest” also will kick off in September. “Luck” ran 1983-86 on CBS’ daytime schedule. “Beauty” was a syndicated series in the late ’70s from Chuck Barris Prods. Akin to Barris’ “The Gong Show,” skein featured celebrity panelists who selected the winner of a talent and swimsuit competition among beautiful young women willing to make fools of themselves.

As previously announced, GSN has bought 156 episodes of “Let’s Make a Deal,” with Monty Hall as host, and will strip it in primetime starting in September after a weeklong marathon of half-hours at the end of August.

‘Showdown’ facelift

One of Boden’s first tasks, Cronin said, will be to work on the revamping of GSN’s most successful original series, “Hollywood Showdown,” hosted by Todd Newton. The new version will premiere as a five-times-per-week primetime series Jan. 4.

GSN has a number of original-series ideas in development, and Cronin said he wants to get three of them on the air by March.

Boden comes to GSN from Dick Clark Prods., where he was senior VP of production and development. Before that, he was vice president of development and production for Fox cabler FX. Prior to that, he was veepee of daytime programming for the Family Channel.

As a producer, Boden co-created and exec produced the Fox network’s primetime gameshow “Greed.” He also served as a producer of “Family Feud” early in his career.

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