CBS, New Line combine 'Elm Street,' reality

HOLLYWOOD — CBS and New Line Television are hoping to scare up viewers with a reality take on the studio’s “Nightmare on Elm Street” franchise.

Eye has ordered six episodes of “Nightmare on Elm Street: Real Nightmares,” an hourlong unscripted skein in which viewers will be given the chance to confront their worst fears head-on. Robert Englund — who plays Freddy Krueger in the films — has signed on to host the show, sans scary makeup.

New Line TV senior VP Jon Kroll will serve as exec producer, with Star Price (“Penn & Teller: Bullshit!”), Rick Ringbakk (“The Missy Elliott Project”) and Tony Yates (“Mad, Mad House”) co-exec producing.

At the start of each seg, Englund will drop in on viewers and ask them to detail their worst nightmare. A visual effects team, led by Oscar-winning f/x artist Peter Kuran (“Star Wars,” “X-Men 2″), will bring those nightmares to life via elaborate recreations.

The skein’s hook: Nightmare-racked viewers will be given the chance to complete a challenge or stunt that will give them a chance to face their fears directly.

“If it’s a nightmare about falling, you can bet someone’s going to be taking a plunge,” Kroll said. “You won’t see all the rigging involved (with the stunt). It’s going to feel like a movie, not a garishly lit reality show.”

Kroll said Englund will serve as ” a dark shrink, a Vincent Price type who will analyze their dreams. Hopefully through Robert, they’ll be able to sleep peacefully at night because he’s helped them overcome their nightmare”.

Englund said he’s “eager to discover what lurks in America’s nightmares, so I can visit my victims — I mean, guests — and find out what makes ‘em scream.”

Each episode of “Real Nightmares” will feature three frightfests, with every hour self-contained — and, thus, syndie-friendly. While participants will get an appearance fee, as of now, there are no plans to crown a winner or offer a cash prize a la NBC and Endemol’s wildly successful “Fear Factor.”

Instead, Kroll said the payoff will be in seeing someone face down their personal demons.

“There have been other shows that deal with people getting into scary situations,” he said. “In this show, every single piece will be about someone directly confronting some part of their own psyche.”

While Englund won’t be donning his Freddy face for “Real Nightmares,” Kroll said the actor is an “absolutely compelling personality” even in his own skin.

“He can be as scary out of makeup as he is in makeup,” Kroll said, adding that “Real Nightmares” won’t always take itself too seriously.

“We want it to be highly entertaining, terrifying and always unpredictable, but there’s also a sense of fun around the ‘Nightmare’ movies, and we want to keep that,” he said.

The “Nightmare” franchise, started by horrormeister Wes Craven, is marking its 20th anniversary this year and has spawned seven sequels, most recently last year’s “Freddy vs. Jason.”

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