ABC adopts another Brit quizzer

'Millionaire's' Davies to top 'Versus,' too

ABC has given a substantial commitment to the U.S. version of Celador’s upcoming game show “The People Versus.”

Michael Davies, who exec produces the U.S. edition of Celador’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” will also oversee production of the new quizzer.

Davies had been tapped to exec produce an ABC version of the long-running BBC quiz phenom “Mastermind.” Instead, the Alphabet network has shelved that project indefinitely.

The death of “Mastermind” came quickly: Just last month, Davies told reporters he was working on several different pilots for the project (Daily Variety, May 17.)

Meanwhile, CBS continues to take full advantage of its summer pop culture phenom “Survivor.” Net has opted to expand the show’s Aug. 23 season finale to two hours, tentatively set to air from 8 to 10 p.m.

There’s a chance CBS could add another hour of “Survivor” programming on finale night. An Eye spokesman said the net had no plans to do so “at this point,” but added that “anything is possible.”

As for ABC’s latest quizzer, the net has had an option with Celador and the production company’s topper, Paul Smith, for some time to pick up “Versus.” The show becomes the latest in a number of series commitments coming out of ABC’s busy alternative department.

Most recently, the Alphabet net ordered 13 episodes of the Matt Damon/Ben Affleck reality skein “The Runner” as well as 13 segs of “You Don’t Know Jack,” based on the CD-ROM game.

Sources say ABC execs will wait until “The People Versus” debuts this fall on the U.K.’s ITV network before deciding how to schedule the show on this side of the pond.

ITV is expected to strip “Versus” much like it does with “Millionaire,” but sources say the show does not necessarily have to air on consecutive nights (especially in the U.S., where “Millionaire” isn’t stripped either).

“The People Versus” is described as an “interactive general knowledge quiz.” Contestants on “Versus” will answer questions on a personal area of expertise put to them by individual viewers. If the contestant is stumped, the viewer takes their place on the next show.

In the U.K., every right answer will be worth £5,000 ($7,500). Unlike “Millionaire,” people playing “Versus” could, in theory, win unlimited cash.

A Celador spokesperson said a host for ITV’s show has yet to be chosen but that it would definitely not be “Millionaire” frontman Chris Tarrant.

“Versus” will air on ITV along with the latest edition of U.K. “Millionaire.” ITV typically keeps its sked for “Millionaire” secret until 10 days before air.

(Erich Boehm in London contributed to this report.)

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