Other skeins include 'Beast,' 'Human Body'
HOLLYWOOD — Fox is teaming with Eric Schotz-led reality factory LMNO Prods. for a trio of out-there reality specials — including a doggie beauty pageant some are dubbing “Miss Bitch” and a multi-species athletic competish boasting, among other things, a team of little people squaring off against an 8,000 lb. elephant.While the nets prepare to unleash a torrent of new reality series over the next three months, Fox reality chief Mike Darnell said one-off specials like the ones being produced by LMNO remain a key part of the unscripted programming strategy for the net. Adding to their importance is Fox’s decision to try to use 9 p.m. Monday as a sort of reality wheel. Following the conclusion of “Joe Millionaire,” which premieres tonight, Fox will use the slot to launch seven-episode skein “Married by America” (Daily Variety, Oct. 31) in early March. ABC is trying a similar plan with Wednesdays at 9 p.m., while CBS uses Thursdays at 8 p.m. for “Survivor,” “Big Brother” and, starting this week, “Star Search Live.” “These specials are very important to fill holes in a schedule or to give you a (ratings) boost during sweeps or at other times you need them,” Darnell told Daily Variety. “But you also hope that, in success, they can turn into a regular series or a series of specials. Instead of testing a pilot, you just air the special.” Reality ratings rich Darnell notes that “World’s Scariest Police Chases” did so well as a special that it ultimately turned into a weekly series. And past Darnell gems such as “Celebrity Boxing,” “Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?” and “Magic’s Biggest Secrets Finally Revealed” have given Fox some of its best ratings ever. The key to a successful Fox special is something with a concept that nearly promotes itself. “Unlike a reality show, you don’t have four or five weeks to air ads,” Darnell said. “You have to count on publicity and water cooler talk. They have to be provocative, almost conversation starters.” Both Darnell and Schotz have high hopes for the three greenlit LMNO specs, all of which are seen as potential franchises:
- “Man vs. Beast,” the multispecies competish airing Wednesday, Jan. 15 at 9 p.m., will feature humans and animals going head-to-head in a series of competitions. Steve Santagati (“Bachelorettes in Alaska”) hosts.
- The doggie beauty pageant — pegged “Miss Bitch” by some industry insiders, but officially known as the “Miss American Dog Pageant”– will essentially be ” ‘Best in Show’ meets Miss America,” Schotz said.
- “101 Things Removed from the Human Body” features amazing-but-true tales of people who have either ingested or been impaled by foreign objects — and survived. Spec will also focus on weird things growing inside people.