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Nets fight to keep ripoffs out of reality

ABC trusting fewer outside suppliers

The always-secretive reality biz has become even more cloak-and-dagger as nets try to avoid being ripped off by competitors.

That’s the word from ABC exec VP of alternative/latenight Andrea Wong, who says the Alphabet is trusting fewer outside suppliers as a result.

“We’re trying to be our own studio more often and develop internally,” Wong said Thursday at the Museum of Television & Radio’s monthly industry forum luncheon in BevHills. “We’ve been forced to keep development extremely confidential because of that risk.”

ABC isn’t closing the door to outside suppliers. While about a third of the net’s unscripted ideas are generated internally, the rest come from outside or are formats, mandating the net still work with others.

If the Alphabet does catch wind that one of its projects is being copied — think “Supernanny” and Fox’s “Nanny 911” — it’s decided it no longer makes sense to rush to be first on the air.

“Every time in the past when we tried to move fast and sacrificed quality, it didn’t work,” Wong said. “Quality is the most important thing.”

Wong used Thursday’s forum to encourage producers to come up with new ideas rather than new takes on old concepts. Noting it’s been two years since the last massive international formats — “Dancing With the Stars” and “Deal or No Deal” — hit the marketplace, she said nets need producers to innovate.

“We’re looking to the creative community to come up with the next left turn,” she said.

And since no gathering of TV execs would be complete without a mention of “American Idol,” Wong offered her take on Fox’s unstoppable beast.

“You just want to kill yourself every time that show is on,” she sighed, singling out the skein as the one reality show from another net she wished she had.

Wong also weighed in on the “controversy” surrounding the “meanness” of “Idol’s” judges, saying she was “a little uncomfortable” with some of this year’s tongue-lashings. “But it hasn’t hurt the ratings,” she said.

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