The Peacock’s going on a diet.
NBC has greenlit production on “The Biggest Loser,” an eight-episode unscripted battle of the bulge in which a group of 12 to 16 overweight contestants compete to see who can achieve the most spectacular physical transformation — sans surgery.
Ben Silverman, J.D. Roth and Dave Broome are exec producing via their respective shingles, Reveille, 3 Ball and 25/7 Prods.
“It’s our version of a makeover show in the way it should be done: Everything’s real,” said Craig Plestis, NBC VP of alternative.
Some elements of the skein are being kept under wraps, but the dieters will move in together under one “Big Brother”-style roof. Cast members will likely be anywhere from 35 to 100 pounds overweight; winner will get a new body — and other “life-changing” prizes producers declined to specify.
Combining elements of “The Apprentice” and “Dr. Phil’s Weight Loss Challenge,” contestants will follow various diet and exercise regimens to shed pounds — and because this is a reality show, there’ll be plenty of twists, natch.
“There’s a lot of stuff that will go on that will test (the contestants) along the way,” Silverman said. “There’ll be eliminations, and challenges and a lot of game play.”
It’s expected that during at least one part of “Loser,” contestants will be forced to keep the pounds off in a real-world setting, outside of what Roth calls “the biodome atmosphere.”
But the theme behind the show will be giving contestants the tools to transform themselves — a sort of “Extreme Makeover” the old-fashioned way.
“You’ll see a bigger transformation of the person from the inside out rather than the outside in,” Roth said. “I look at these people on some shows getting their necks sucked out and stomachs stapled … (rather than) taking responsibility.”
Adds Silverman: “There are no shortcuts. People will have to work to get healthy.”
All of the dieters will be medically supervised and given access to experts in weight loss, nutrition and exercise. And the winner won’t simply be the person who sheds the most pounds, but rather the person who’s in best shape.
“We want to create a healthy way for them to lose weight. Nobody here will be eating only 400 calories a day,” Broome said, noting that viewers will be able to follow the same diet regimens as the contestants via Web sites and other components.
“Hopefully we will inspire an overweight America to get fit,” Silverman added.
Producers are also working on an array of potential sponsors natural to a weight-loss show.
“We plan to offer sponsorship opportunities beyond just product integration into the show,” Broome said. “Our goal is to use other outlets to create and garner greater attention to the show, such as radio and online components.”
Plestis also thinks the lack of surgery will help make WMA-packaged “Loser” a winner with advertisers.
“It’s an advertiser-friendly show because it’s all about how we can empower the people we choose and help them make over their lives in a real way,” he said.
Casting is already well under way on “Loser,” with the show likely to debut in late fall or early winter. Long lead-time is needed to capture the dieters’ transformation.
Silverman is currently prepping for the premiere of “Blow Out” on Bravo, which he produced with Shapiro/Grodner. Roth’s 3 Ball is readying the third and fourth cycles of “For Love or Money” (with Bruce Nash) and the third season of NBC’s Saturday ayem hit “Endurance.”
Broome’s credits include “The Radio Music Awards,” which moved to NBC last year and scored a major ratings increase.