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GSN game for real Woolery

Project reps company's first foray into reality p'gramming

HOLLYWOOD — The Game Show Network is getting real, ordering an unscripted skein focusing on classic quizmeister Chuck Woolery.

Net has greenlit two and two (plus two more) episodes of “Chuck Woolery: Behind the Lingo,” a weekly half-hour that will mix elements of HBO’s “Project Greenlight” and MTV’s “The Osbournes” by focusing on the behind-the-scenes workings of GSN’s successful strip “Lingo” as well as Woolery’s off-camera life.

Project reps GSN’s first foray into reality programming. Phil Gurin (“Weakest Link”) and Laurelwood Entertainment are producing in association with Red Skies Entertainment. Six-episode skein is set to bow during the second quarter of 2003.

GSN topper Rich Cronin said he and programming senior VP Bob Boden have long wanted to expand the cabler beyond basic quizshows, and after “The Osbournes” launched MTV’s Nielsens into the stratosphere, execs also began looking into a personality-driven concept.

Began with ‘Lingo’

When the Gurin-produced and Woolery-hosted “Lingo” bowed over the summer and quickly became the net’s most watched original series, “Behind the Lingo” was born.

“We felt our fans loved Chuck, and if we did a reality show (about him), we’d have something that appealed to our current audience and bring in new viewers,” Cronin said.

Skein will feature “Larry Sanders”-like elements by focusing on how crew members and producers interact with the 61-year-old Woolery. It’ll also focus on the veteran host’s familial relations with third wife Teri Nelson and Woolery’s children from various relationships.

Boden believes Woolery’s off-camera life will provide plenty of fodder for “Behind the Lingo.”

“I was privileged to work side-by-side with Chuck on ‘Greed,’ and every time that we’re together, something interesting happens, whether he’s serenading the audience, selling me on fishing or interacting with his family,” Boden said.

Luck with Chuck TV

GSN is rapidly turning into Chuck TV. In addition to “Lingo” and “Behind the Lingo,” net airs episodes of “Greed” every weekend and last week picked up repeats of “Love Connection.”

“There’s going to be a whole lot of Chuck on Game Show Network,” Cronin said.

While the tentatively titled “Behind the Lingo” is GSN’s first stab at reality programming, Cronin is looking to pick up more projects outside the studio gameshow format.

“We’ve got several documentaries in development and some other reality ideas we’re kicking around,” Cronin said.

New episodes of “Lingo” bow next week, with GSN expected to add at least three new quizzers to its lineup by next summer.

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