Cutting edge reality at Fox

Net, FremantleMedia pact to change lives

Fox is teaming with “American Idol” producer FremantleMedia to put an extreme spin on the makeover genre.

Net has ordered at least six episodes of “The Swan,” a weekly skein in which women age 22-38 will get what producers call a “full-life” makeover — complete with plastic surgery — and then find themselves competing against one another in a live, two-hour beauty pageant finale. So-called “life specialists” will guide the women through their transformation, offering advice on everything from fashion to speech.

Indie producer Nely Galan brought the project to Fox and Fremantle, and will serve as an exec on the project. Fox, Fremantle and Galan are in the process of picking a showrunner.

While there are some obvious similarities to ABC’s “Extreme Makeover” and Bravo’s “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” the Fox project seems as much about ambition as transformation. Rather than simply making people over, “The Swan” will attempt to see how makeovers can change participants’ lives.

“We’re going to take women who are, on the surface, ugly ducklings and make them into swans,” said Fox alternative chief Mike Darnell. “(But) it’s plastic surgery with the purpose of something: winning a pageant.”

Pageant will consider looks, talent and poise, with judges rendering a verdict. In addition to accepting videotaped applications, producers will also hit the road for auditions in which hopefuls can plead their case for makeovers.

Darnell said Galant was inspired by the Latin American beauty pageant industry, in which contestants for some events make no secret of the fact they’ve undergone plastic surgery to better their chances at winning.

But while the competish is a key part of the show, Fremantle North America COO Ceclie Frout-Coutaz said “The Swan” will also allow contestants a chance to change more than their outward appearance.

“This goes a step beyond the physical makeover show,” she said. “It’s about changing the inside as well as the outside. People kind of get stuck in a bad area in their lives, and what this show is about is giving a cast of women the opportunity to fulfill their objectives.”

Skein, being readied for a spring bow, was packaged by WMA.

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