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Fox checks into ‘Divorce Hotel’

It orders pilot of Smith reality format

CANNES

Fox has greenlit a pilot for a show that is likely to create a stir in the global TV market by offering warring couples the chance of an instant divorce.

“The Divorce Hotel” is the latest project from A. Smith and Co., the U.S. home of Gordon Ramsay’s “Kitchen Nightmares,” which also airs on Fox.

The show takes unhappily married couples plus their legal teams to a luxury hotel for a weekend.

By the end of Sunday night, the idea is that pair, and their worldly assets, will be happily and legally separated.

Arthur Smith, CEO of A. Smith and Co., said, “This is a new type of reality show, which unlike all those old-school ‘Big Brother’-style shows doesn’t involve a game or any kind of elimination contest.”

Smith acknowledged that ‘Divorce Hotel’ will be “voyeuristic, but it is going to feel like real drama because these are real people trying to sort their lives out.”

Smith added that they have taken pains to overcome the “legal complexities” that come with the concept of an instant divorce. “I am convinced we have a massive hit destined to be compelling viewing in international markets,” he said.

Show comes as a result of a deal between Smith and Jim Halfens, the Dutch entrepreneur behind a real-life Divorce Hotel service in the Netherlands.

Smith declined to reveal how much he paid for the rights.

His partners on the venture are Mickey Stern and John Brenkus of Base Prods., the U.S. shingle specializing in sports science series.

The hourlong pilot will feature two childless couples planning to divorce. Smith is scouting for a suitable luxury hotel in a U.S. city. He’s ruled out Las Vegas, the city known for offering no shortage of opportunities for couples to stage a quickie wedding.

If Fox likes the pilot, Smith is optimistic that an eight-to-13-part series will follow in time for an international launch at next spring’s MipTV market.

Distributor Mentorn Intl., part of the same British indie that owns A. Smith and Co., is being lined up to sell “Divorce Hotel.”

Smith, meanwhile, lives in Los Angeles with his wife of 24 years. The couple have two daughters.

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