Nets prepare for reality battle

NBC is looking to strike a little “Fear” into the premiere of CBS’ highly-touted action reality series “The Amazing Race.”

The Peacock will use an original episode of hot shock reality skein “Fear Factor” to combat “Race’s” Sept. 5 debut.

“Let the games begin,” said NBC Entertainment prexy Jeff Zucker.

The fresh edition of “Fear Factor” will air at 9 p.m. that night — opposite “Race” and right after the premiere of another NBC nonscripted series, “Lost.” By scheduling a one-two reality roadblock punch, NBC hopes to blunt the debut of “Race,” which garnered much buzz at the Eye’s upfront presentation last May.

NBC had ordered nine segs of “Fear Factor,” but only ran eight episodes in the show’s Monday night time period. The ninth seg, originally slated to air Aug. 6, was replaced by a “best-of” edition in order to hold it back for strategic purposes.

“We had one ‘Fear Factor’ left and wanted to make sure we made the most judicious use of it,” Zucker said. “It should provide a stronger opponent than a ‘West Wing’ repeat, so it made sense for us.”

After learning of the counterprogramming move, CBS execs pointed the “Fear” finger back at the Peacock.

“The title ‘Fear Factor’ is an appropriate description of this desperate move,” said Eye spokesman Chris Ender. “It’s obvious that they’re very, very afraid of ‘The Amazing Race.”

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