Fox is putting reality TV on ice.
Net is fast-tracking production on a celebrity figure-skating skein in which famous faces will be paired with well-known pros in a weekly elimination competish. Fox Sports exec-turned-reality pro Arthur Smith (“Hell’s Kitchen”) will exec produce the series, “Skating With Celebrities,” which has been given a six-episode order.
Greenlight by Fox reality exec VP Mike Darnell was no doubt encouraged by the strong ratings for ABC’s summer hit “Dancing With the Stars.” Latter skein bowed with low expectations, but in two weeks has emerged as TV’s top-rated summer series, giving ABC yet another hit in its rapidly expanding arsenal of both scripted and unscripted successes.
Indeed, while the Alphabet has made no formal announcements yet, there’s little doubt it will soon order up at least one more round of the BBC Worldwide-produced “Dancing With the Stars.”
Fox, which made U.S. TV safe for variety shows with “American Idol,” may not be the only net with designs on a figure-skating skein.
The success of the BBC’s original ballroom format (dubbed “Strictly Come Dancing”) led to a disco-themed spinoff series and, yes, the one-time special “Strictly Ice Dancing.” ITV last year announced plans for its own celeb skating skein, “Stars on Thin Ice.”
Whatever the potential competish, Darnell calls Fox’s figure skating skein “the next step” in celeb competition.
“If it’s interesting to see celebrities master ballroom dancing, it’s going to be incredibly interesting to see if they can master a double axel and a spin,” Darnell said. “Watching a celebrity try to master something this intricate is going to be compelling to watch. We expect a lot of falls and a lot of nerves.”
Darnell and Smith wouldn’t discuss casting, but at least on the skating side, “You can expect to see the participation of some major names,” Darnell said.
As for the celebs, Fox is looking for stars who already know how to skate but are interested in taking their skills to the next level. “A lot of celebrities around town already skate or play hockey,” Smith said.
Darnell believes the huge popularity of Olympic figure skating indicates there’s an appetite for the skein he and Smith are planning. Indeed, “Dancing With the Stars” somewhat resembles an Olympic competish, complete with a leader board and a “kiss-and-cry” room in which dancers await the judges’ verdict.
“Visually, this is going to look like a big event every week,” Smith promised, noting his past experience producing ice-skating matches for Fox Sports will come in handy.