“American Idol” producer FremantleMedia has snapped up the rights to hot Oz reality format “The Block” and is in final negotiations with Fox to import it to the U.S.
Show, a cross between “Big Brother” and “Trading Spaces,” follows four competing couples as they redecorate a block of four identically derelict apartments.
“The Block” follows the couples as they live inside the homes for as long as three months; each episode ends with them completing another room in the apartment.
The shabby-cum-chic dwellings are then auctioned off; whoever gets the best sales price (revealed in the final episode) wins $500,000. As incentive, losers still get to walk away with the profits off their apartment sale.
“The Block” scored big this month in Australia, where it aired on the Nine network. The channel drew 4.4 million viewers last weekend, when the apartments were sold — with more than 53% of all Australian viewers tuned to the show.
That made “The Block” finale the most successful series hour in Australian history.
FremantleMedia North America entertainment prexy David Lyle — a former Nine exec — was instrumental in acquiring U.S. rights to the format, which the company picked up three weeks ago from Nine.
“The Block” sale marks the first-ever Australian TV format to reach primetime on a major U.S. network. RDF Media picked up rights to “The Block” in the U.K., where it’s expected to land on ITV.
It’s too soon to tell who may exec produce the U.S. version of “The Block” and to what extent the show’s Australian creators, David Barbour and Julian Cress, will be involved.
Fox declined to comment on the pending deal; “The Block” could show up on the net as soon as midseason.