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Fox calls for ‘Daddy’

Gameshow will bow as a 90-minute special Jan. 3

Father’s Day will come early next year on Fox.

Net is finally taking the wraps off “Who’s Your Daddy?,” the potentially controversial paternity gameshow first revealed last summer by rival web head Jeff Zucker (Daily Variety, July 15).

“Daddy” will bow as a 90-minute special Monday, Jan. 3, at 8 p.m.; seven other episodes ordered will air later in the season as a weekly series or a series of specials.

Fox TV Studios is producing in association with exec producers Ken Mok (“America’s Next Top Model”) and the team of Scott Hallock and Kevin Healey (“Scare Tactics”). Soap vet Finola Hughes hosts.

FTVS primetime reality skein is the first for Fox since Angela Shapiro-Mathes took control of the studio.

“Daddy” takes an adopted woman who’s searching for her father and puts her in a classic reality show elimination scenario. She’s introduced to eight men. One is her real dad; the other seven are fakes, each of whose goal is to trick the woman into thinking they’re her father.

If the woman successfully identifies her dad after three elimination rounds, she gets up to $100,000. If she doesn’t, one of the seven faux papas — all of whom are contestants — get the coin.

Either way, each self-contained episode ends with a four-hanky reunion of father and child.

“It’s the most emotional show we’ve ever put on the air,” said Fox reality chief Mike Darnell. “I guarantee you: If you have any heart, you’ll be bawling at the end of the show.”

Zucker told a room full of reporters about “Daddy” and “My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss” as a form of retaliation against Fox, which Zucker felt was stealing his reality show ideas.

While all involved in “Daddy” are aware of its “What’s My Line”-like deception, skein could still draw fire because the seven fake daddies all try to deceive the adopted woman. As a result, it’s possible the woman could form a bond with a fake dad — or grow to dislike her true father before she even knows who he is.

“Sometimes you’ll wince at what happens,” Darnell admitted, noting that in situations where the woman has ended up eliminating her dad, “she feels terrible.”

“We’re making people play a game to find one another,” Darnell added. “But the game aspect takes a back seat to the emotions.”

“Daddy” is not the first primetime reality skein to dabble in long-lost relatives.

Last summer’s “Big Brother” featured “Project DNA,” in which two contestants discovered on-air that they were half-siblings. NBC has also been developing LMNO Prods.’ “Extreme Reunions” for NBC (Daily Variety, July 7).

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