Producer pacts to create new unscripted projects
Jay Bienstock, the longtime Mark Burnett collaborator who’s overseen multiple seasons of “Survivor” and “The Apprentice,” is branching out on his own.Producer has inked a two-year, seven-figure overall deal with CBS Paramount Network Television. He’ll create and exec produce unscripted projects for all nets. Bienstock will work closely with Ghen Maynard, the CBS exec VP in charge of alternative programming and entertainment content for new media. With signature skeins such as “Survivor” and “The Amazing Race” aging, the Eye net is on the hunt for reality hits — and Maynard is betting on producers such as Bienstock to launch those skeins. Exec, who has known Bienstock since the first “Survivor,” said the producer has a strong sense of story direction. “He always comes at something from a different way, which I like,” Maynard told Daily Variety. “He thinks outside the box and yet he also knows how to appeal to a mass audience.” For his part, Bienstock said he’s already brainstorming a slew of potential ideas. “I love the reality competition format, and I think there are still more things to be tapped,” he said. “I also love adventure, where you put people in fun but challenging situations. Those are the shows I want to work on.” While unscripted producers are finding it hard to come up with breakout ideas in a well-saturated reality market, Bienstock believes there’s plenty of room for new hits. The genre, he said, “is just waiting for something new and fresh to come along.” Bienstock ankled Mark Burnett Prods. after a 10-year relationship that dated back to the days of “Eco-Challenge.” After several years on VH1’s signature “Behind the Music,” he reconnected with Burnett on the first five editions of “Survivor” and every installment of “The Apprentice” (including the Martha Stewart-hosted spinoff). Bienstock essentially served as day-to-day showrunner on “The Apprentice,” working in conjunction with Burnett. As for the name of his shingle, CAA-repped Bienstock is keeping things simple, calling the company Jay Bienstock Prods. “Hopefully, the shows will be a lot more creative than the name,” he quipped.
Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more