Net snipes at Alphabet with 'Trading Spouses'

Firing the next salvo in the reality wars, Fox has greenlit the tentatively titled skein “Trading Spouses: Meet Your New Mommy.”

Net has initially ordered 10 hours of “Trading Spouses,” which has already gone into production. Fox hopes to premiere the show, which hails from Rocket Science Laboratories (“Joe Millionaire”), before the end of the summer.

That would get it on the air before ABC’s “Wife Swap,” which is set to debut Wednesday, Sept. 29. “Wife Swap” was one of ABC’s best-received shows at last month’s advertiser upfront presentations; “Trading Spouses” now threatens to steal that show’s thunder.

Like “Wife Swap,” the Fox show will follow two families as they’re forced to adapt when their matriarchs switch places. But in a twist on the Alphabet web’s concept, the families’ fathers will occasionally swap places instead.

Sources close to the Fox show say “Trading Spouses” will also include a game element.

“I’ve seen pieces of the first episode and the switch is hysterical,” Fox alternative/specials exec VP Mike Darnell said. “It’s a fish out of water story. It’s like ‘The Simple Life’ meets your mother.”

Each spouse trade will unfold over two hourlong episodes, as the first seg deals with the initial switchover — and the second deals with the aftermath. In some cases, it’s the moving mother or father who experiences culture shock (think snobby mom moving in with a lower-class family), while in others it’s the family that must adjust.

Rocket Science’s Chris Cowan and Jean-Michel Michenaud will exec produce. Fox hasn’t yet determined how it will schedule the show, such as airing both hours in the same week.

The “Wife Swap”/”Trading Spouses” battle is just the latest in what’s become an insanely competitive reality marketplace. Fox has also made waves when it announced plans to launch Oscar De La Hoya boxing series “The Next Great Champ” this fall — in advance of NBC’s Sylvester Stallone starrer “The Contender.”

This wouldn’t mark the first time Michael Davies, whose Diplomatic Prods. partnered with RDF Media to produce “Wife Swap,” found himself fighting off a Fox challenger. Soon after his “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” hit it big at ABC, Fox launched the competing gamer “Greed.”

The two nets also got into a tussle in 2002, when Alphabet gameshow “The Chair” was challenged by Fox’s similarly themed “The Chamber.” Both shows were quickly yanked.

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