Kid's game show eyes midseason debut

Brilliant fifth graders aren’t enough for Fox, which has picked up a new gamer that revolves around even smarter children.

“Our Little Genius” comes from Mark Burnett Prods. and Zoo Prods., the shingles behind the net’s “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?” quizzer.

This time out, the competish will focus on gifted tykes who are experts on a given topic — be it astronomy or Shakespeare.

Fox has picked up eight episodes of “Genius” — several of which will air behind “American Idol,” according to reality topper Mike Darnell.

“Genius” reps another instance of reality’s bad boy executive gone straight, picking up a feel-good reality show about kids. But Darnell said he’s hardly gone soft.

“At heart, I’m a businessman,” Darnell said. “Whatever works, I do. And I’ve never been so confident of a show working. This is a slam dunk.”

Burnett said show came out of a desire to keep a game show on the air that repped values similar to “5th Grader” — which continues in first-run syndication, but is no longer on the network.

“These kids are on another planet of brilliance,” Burnett said. “These kids may at times get picked on or laughed at, but here’s a format that celebrates what makes them brilliant. The kids radiate on the set, it’s really joyful to see the smile on these kids’ faces.”

No host is in place for “Genius” yet, and a marketing partner has yet to sign on. But Burnett said he’s bullish on the internation format possibilities for the show, and expects to start hearing from global broadcasters soon.

“Genius” will follow kids, ages 6 to 12, who answer increasingly difficult questions in their given topic. The catch: Their parents can choose to walk away with the accumulated cash at any time.

The kids’ parents will decide whether to trust their genius’ answers by consulting with a panel of experts (such as professors, doctors or scientists). If they think their kid is wrong, they may opt to go home.

But if the parents allow their kid to go ahead, and the genius gets it wrong, then the cash prize drops to a lower level.

Unlike “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” the contestants won’t be given multiple choices for their answers.

Children on “Our Little Genius” will be playing for a cash prize in the six figures (a final pot hasn’t been determined yet).

“Our Little Genius” will be a part of Fox’s midseason schedule, which is expected to be announced in the coming days.

Burnett is the exec producer on “Genius” alongside Zoo’s Barry Poznick and John Stevens.

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