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Verschoor, Fox partners in ‘Crime’

Show follows group of people trying to solve whodunit

The man who brought you “The Real World” now wants to send reality TV into the unreal world.

George Verschoor has inked a multiyear deal with Fox Television Studios Prods. to develop and produce reality and scripted series. The pact’s believed to be in the $750,000 range.

As part of the new deal, Verschoor has been brainstorming new reality concepts, including a number of ideas that incorporate both scripted and non-scripted elements.

“We’re trying to create new formats rather than relying on getting an import from the U.K.,” said Lisa Berger, exec vice president of creative affairs at Fox Television Studios Prods.

Verschoor has already sold one format, tentatively titled “The Crime,” to Fox. Show follows a group of real people who are placed in the middle of a fake crime scene. Through interviewing actors and making their own deductions, the contestants try to solve the whodunit.

Contestants would also be given spending money to handle their research, which may include travel.

Berger said the studio is in talks with well-known mystery writers to create the show’s scenarios.

“It’s almost like a virtual-reality game,” Verschoor said. “People won’t be able to distinguish what’s real and what’s not. We’re bringing people into a world that’s very carefully constructed. Is it scripted or is it real? It looks like a movie but it’s real people.”

The horror of it all

Another entry from Verschoor, tentatively titled “Smalltown X Pro-ject,” is currently being pitched to networks. Show takes real people and puts them in the middle of a classic horror movie. Verschoor hopes to scout out actual small towns and add fictional horror elements.

Townspeople and actors alike would then play along as contestants are taken down one by one by a “mysterious force.” Last person standing or revealing what’s causing the town’s horrors wins.

“Imagine ‘Real World’ meets ‘Twin Peaks,'” Verschoor said.

Verschoor also has the comedy reality project “Free Rent” in the works. That entry turns the tail on the reality world, watching people being filmed and the people watching them being filmed at the same time. Another possible project, “She-Blade,” spoofs the “Xena” genre of syndie action hours.

Reality reunion

Verschoor’s deal at Fox TV Studios Prods. reunites him with Berger, who worked in programming at MTV when Verschoor directed and produced the first four seasons of “The Real World.”

“With our studio trying to bring new forms to TV, especially with the success of reality, we needed to bring someone in who basically launched the form and does it well,” Berger said. “There are a lot of people out there doing it, but George is just the best.”

After “The Real World,” Verschoor produced and directed the MTV comedy series “Austin Stories.” He also exec produced and directed the MTV pilot “Fear,” which was recently commissioned as a series, and directed the pilot for FX’s “Son of the Beach.”

Verschoor also plans to develop feature films under his new pact at Fox TV Studios Prods. He’s repped by Endeavor and attorney Jared Levine.

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