Mindless brainstorms 4 reality pilots

Projects include 'Movie Maniac,' 'Scrabble'

“The Surreal Life” producer Mindless Entertainment has thought up a quartet of new reality pilots set to roll this summer.

Led by founder/president Mark Cronin, Mindless’ reality roster includes projects for FX, Discovery Channel, the Independent Film Channel and the Game Show Network.

“The kind of shows I do are mindless,” Cronin said. “The name is our motto. I really only want to do stuff that is in some way funny. I’m not the person you go to for hard-hitting reality or dirty-trick reality.”

New projects include IFC’s “The Search for America’s No. 1 Movie Maniac,” a pilot that could turn into an eight-episode quest to find the nation’s ultimate movie fan.

“These are people who live in their basements, surrounded by their four DVD players, absorbed by it all,” Cronin said.

Cronin said “Movie Maniac” came out of his experience producing “Beat the Geeks” for Comedy Central. That gamer, which pitted contestants against pop culture fanatics, ran for 130 episodes on the channel. Cronin said he’s looking to start pitching variations on “Beat the Geek,” perhaps tailored to specific networks like ESPN or VH1.

Also, Mindless has teamed up with Fox Television Studios for the FX pilot presentation “Hurt Bert,” a spinoff of the cabler’s former late night strip “The X Show.”

Mindless produced 390 episodes of “The X Show,” which featured up-and-coming stand-up comedian Bert Kreischer. “Hurt Bert” is based on a segment Kreischer did for the show, in which he tackled his worst fears.

“Hurt Bert” is one of a number of projects under consideration at FX; the cabler is also toying with launching a Friday night block of reality series.

Meanwhile, Mindless is also producing the backdoor pilot “The Science of Fiction” for the Discovery Channel. The series looks at how science fiction is dealt with in Hollywood through various flights of fancy.

For example, Cronin noted, the science behind “The Matrix” is completely flawed.

“The entire concept of ‘The Matrix’ is that human brains have all been linked together because the machines need the power,” he said. “But it doesn’t make any sense. Humans don’t generate power, they take up energy.”

Then there’s an updated version of “Scrabble” for the Game Show Network, which Mindless has taken over for production. A previous pilot has been scrapped.

“We’re still going to preserve the basic game, but add younger bells and whistles,” Cronin said. “To take it and update it is a little bit of a challenge.”

Cronin is currently producing a second season of “Cram” for the Game Show Network, which features contestants studying all night and competing in mental and physical challenges the following day. Game Show Network picked up 65 episodes of the show for its second cycle, which will include several celebrity editions.

Most recently, “Survivor” alums Jerry Manthey and Susan Hawk squared off for charity.

Mindless, which is repped by UTA, is continuing work on a second season of “The Surreal Life,” alongside fellow producers Brass Ring and Renegade 83.

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