Peacock imports reality music skein 'Baby'

NBC is getting into the musical reality game, fast-tracking production on a U.S. version of the Granada format “Hit Me Baby One More Time.”

Each self-contained hourlong episode of the skein takes five former chart-topping artists and gives them a chance to get back into the spotlight by performing a cover version of a current pop hit, as well as one of their past successes. There’ll also be a competitive angle to the show, since studio audience members will get to determine their favorite act via a sort of battle-of-the-bands vote. Winner will get a prize to be determined.

Skein is set to bow June 2 in the 9 p.m. timeslot normally occupied by “The Apprentice.” Vernon Kay, who hosts the Blighty version of the show, will reprise his role in the U.S.

The Peacock’s initial order is three episodes, but NBC reality topper Craig Plestis said the show “is expandable to many more episodes, if we wanted to go there, which I think we will once we see it.”

Exec producer Paul Jackson predicted “Hit Me” will “ignite memories” in viewers and said that based on its success across the Pond, it’s “sure to connect well with U.S. viewers.”

This summer promises to bring a slew of music or dance-themed skeins, from CBS’ “Rock Star” to ABC’s remake of Brit hit “Strictly Come Dancing.”

Plestis said “Hit Me” will give NBC “a footprint in the genre that’s unique. You won’t see a show like this, with favorites coming back, anywhere else.”

Talent for the episodes is expected to be announced shortly. U.K. version, which is still in the middle of its first season, featured performances from artists such as Howard Jones, Tiffany, Gloria Gaynor, Belinda Carlisle and Haddaway. Latter performed a cover of Britney Spears’ “Toxic.”

Pre-taped packages will give viewers a rundown of the artist’s past successes and an update on what’s going on in their lives now.

“Hit Me,” packaged by WMA, is being produced by Granada America. Exec producers include Paul Jackson (“Nanny 911,” “Hell’s Kitchen”), Curt Northrup (“Celebrity Fit Club”), Michael Agbabian and Dwight D. Smith (“Last Comic Standing”), Daniel Soiseth (“Big Brother 4″) and Stewart Morris (“Brainiac”).

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