Fox’s ‘Master’ plan: reality-gamer hybrid

New quizzer from Nash could air by August

Fox is closing in on a deal to air “Master Game,” a hybrid reality game show from Nash Entertainment that combines elements of the upcoming CBS skein “Big Brother” with the long-running quizzer “Jeopardy!”

Premise of the show has five contestants locked into separate hotel rooms for a week as part of what one insider calls a “mental decathlon.” Each day, players are given a wealth of reading material about one topic and told to cram in as much info about the subject as possible.

Cameras follow the contestants during the week as the intense memorization and studying begins to take its toll. One exec familiar with the concept characterizes it as an “innocent show.”

At the end of a 10- to 12-hour period, the instant experts face off against one another in a quizshow-style test to determine how much knowledge they’ve retained.

The process is repeated for the rest of the week; the contestant with the most points at the end of the frame gets a chance to go out for a large, yet-to-be- determined amount of cash.

Finals week plus

“It’s like finals week in college, only you can win money,” said one exec familiar with the concept behind “Master Game.”

Fox and Nash are still hammering out the specifics of a deal, but as of late Monday, it appeared likely the net would commit to at least five episodes of the skein. Show would be stripped over the course of a week, most likely in August or September — and possibly opposite NBC’s coverage of the Sydney Olympics.

Should “Master Game” work in its summer trial, sources say the show could return as soon as sweeps-TV’s version of finals week.

“Master Game” is just the latest twist in TV’s newfound obsession with nonscripted entertainment programming.

Last week, CBS scored awesome adults 18-49 Nielsen numbers with “Survivor,” a 13-week skein that strands a group of strangers on a remote island. Eye next month will launch “Big Brother,” a five-nights-a-week strip that locks a crew of average folk together in a Studio City house and then monitors their every move via a network of hidden cameras.

High school combo

Later this summer, Fox is planning to premiere a combo documentary/drama skein set in a suburban high school. Net Monday night launched another quizzer, “It’s Your Chance of a Lifetime,” for a multiweek run. Also this summer, Fox has the previously announced “Krypton Factor,” from LMNO Prods.

All this interest in reality programs and quizzers was inspired by ABC’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” which emerged as a surprise phenom shortly after its premiere last August.

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