USA reality revs up

Net hires Porter, OKs Gurin pilot 'Ransacked'

The reality department at USA Network is ramping up, adding development exec Elizabeth Porter to the team as a VP and greenlighting a reality/gameshow pilot from producer Phil Gurin.

Porter joins USA as VP of alternative programming for USA Network, based in Los Angeles.

She’ll report to Chris Sloan, senior VP of reality programming and specials, and work with Sloan to develop reality skeins and specials, including those aimed at latenight. She’ll also oversee production on current unscripted projects for various dayparts and package the general entertainment cable net’s daytime movie block.

Prior to USA, Porter was a producer on such shows as Martin Short’s “Primetime Glick” for Comedy Central and syndie strips “Vibe” and “The Howie Mandel Show.” She started her career with “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

Production on the pilot from Gurin, an exec producer of NBC’s “Weakest Link,” will get under way in two weeks in Los Angeles.

Dubbed “Ransacked,” the hourlong show calls for four couples to open up their homes to be ransacked for valuables. The couples then compete in a variety of games with hopes of winning nicer versions of their possessions.

“They play to either win back their stuff, win better stuff or, if they do really poorly, we destroy their stuff right onstage in front of them,” said Gurin, who created the show and is producing via his shop the Gurin Co.

Show, which had been developed under the title “Search & Destroy,” culminates in a battle between two couples over their family cars, during which the winning couple gets a brand new ride while the loser goes home with the winner’s old car and has to watch their own vehicle get demolished.

Skein’s host has yet to be cast. Gurin said there will likely be two sidekicks.

“It’s a gamble. There are real stakes involved. Like Vegas, you can come back with less,” USA’s Sloan said. “The hook is the whole notion of real consequence. There’s real drama because contestants put their real possessions on the line.”

Meanwhile, USA is in various stages on a handful of other previously reported reality projects.

A pilot for “Break In!,” from Bruce Nash, is in the early stages of being arranged, the “Aphrodite Jones” pilot is close to being finished, and USA has decided not to go forward on its project with former Hell’s Angels leader Chuck Zito.

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