Network gives six-episode order to series

ABC has given a six-episode order to a new celeb take on the sports-themed franchise “Superstars.”

Casting has begun on the alternative series, which ABC plans to run this summer. Juma Entertainment (“The Singing Bee”) and Blue Equity’s Blue Entertainment Sports TV (Best), which owns the franchise, dusted off the title and shopped it around last fall (Daily Variety, Aug. 25).

“ABC was the most aggressive, and they were big on getting the authenticity of the original ‘Superstars’ format,” said Juma prexy Bob Horowitz. “And the fact that they have the NBA Finals in June makes it a phenomenal springboard for promoting the series.”

In bringing out the franchise last summer, Horowitz had cited the success of ABC’s “Wipeout,” as well as the popularity of celebrity reality competitions like the Alphabet’s “Dancing With the Stars.”

In “Superstars,” eight celebs will be paired with eight male and female pro athletes to compete in various events, including swimming, biking, running and kayaking. Teams will be eliminated each week, until one athlete/celebrity pair is crowned the champs.

“Superstars,” which was created by Barry Frank and Dick Button as a part of ABC’s “Wide World of Sports,” has aired in several forms since 1973. According to Horowitz, Disney topper Bob Iger even worked on the show early in his career at the Alphabet net.

“This now brings it full circle 35 years later,” Horowitz said.

“Superstars” hasn’t aired in the U.S. since 2002, but the U.K. version was revived last summer by terrestrial Channel Five. As originally conceived, the show pitted athletes opposite each other; past winners include Herschel Walker, Jason Sehorn, Dave Johnson and Bode Miller.

Horowitz and Best’s Michael Principe are exec producers.

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