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ABC renews ‘Wipeout’

Network picks up gameshow for third season

Another season of “Wipeout” balls are in ABC’s court.

Alphabet net has picked up a third season of the reality competish, set for summer 2010. Pre-production is already under way for next year’s edition of “Wipeout,” which comes from Endemol USA.

Currently in the middle of its sophomore run on ABC, “Wipeout” continues to perform strongly for the net, averaging a 2.6 rating/10 share in adults 18-49 last week.

“We’ve proven that it’s not just a one-hit wonder,” said Endemol North America chairman David Goldberg. “It’s not only a large-scale stunt competition, but it’s also a comedy. ‘Wipeout’ has found a certain voice and attitude and is the kind of show that families love to watch together.”

Exec producer Matt Kunitz said designs for the third season’s obstacle course have just been completed and approved by ABC; construction on the show’s Santa Clarita set will begin next month, with shooting to start at the end of September.

That includes adding even more mechanics and hydraulics to the course. In season two, Kunitz and company added more elements such as a robotic arm — called the “motivator” — which pushed contestants onto the signature “Wipeout” red balls if they exhibited any hesitation.

“The best wipeouts are when they have no control,” Kunitz said.

The show has maxed out its water tanks, which now are set at eight, he said.

In evolving “Wipeout,” Kunitz said he’s also utilizing social networks such as Twitter and Facebook to gauge viewer reaction.

“I can watch the Twitter feed as the show is airing,” he said. “It’s an instant focus group.”

Auds, for example, responded so strongly to “Wipeout’s” couples episode that another one is in the works for next season.

Goldberg and Kunitz said it’s too soon to know whether ABC will also ask for special editions of “Wipeout” to air during the regular season, much like the one it broadcast this year on Super Bowl Sunday. It’s always a possibility, they said, but don’t expect to see the series permanently move out of summer.

Original editions of “Wipeout” now air in 29 territories; with the exception of the U.S. edition, all are produced on a permanent course in Argentina.

Meanwhile, with the third season pickup, “Wipeout” is moving closer to the 60-80 episode mark that could push it into off-net syndication. Endemol also continues to kick around potential “Wipeout” spinoffs — such as a kids version — but nothing is in the offing yet.

Kunitz exec produces “Wipeout” with Scott Larsen. John Henson and John Anderson host, while Jill Wagner is co-host.

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