‘Rich’ kids get taste of real life on ABC

Skein expected to air in early September

Money may not always buy happiness, but it can apparently get you a spot on a reality TV show.

In the wake of Fox’s “The Simple Life” and MTV’s “Rich Girls,” the Alphabet web has given a cast-contingent series order to Granada’s tentatively titled “I’m a Rich Kid! Get Me Out of Here!” Ten episodes are expected to air over two weeks in early September, leading into the launch of ABC’s fall season.

“I’m a Rich Kid” is a twist on the U.K. shingle’s “I’m a Celebrity!” format, which has been a big hit in the U.K. but was considered a disappointment when ABC attempted it last year. New skein will have celebutantes and ordinary offspring of rich folks survive for 10 days in the Australian outback, going from “spoiled to soiled.”

“This puts an interesting perspective on the format, and when you look at the success of the British format, we thought we should give it another try,” ABC alternative series senior VP Andrea Wong told Daily Variety. “We learned a lot from doing the first one.”

Critics — and the Alphabet’s own Jimmy Kimmel — had a field day mocking “I’m a Celebrity,” mostly because of its sub-Kathy Griffin level cast (Stuttering John, Melissa Rivers, etc.) Skein did improve upon ABC’s season-to-date time period perf each time it aired, Wong noted.

ABC no doubts hopes to duplicate the success story of CBS’ “Big Brother.” Skein was considered a creative flop and so-so ratings performer during its first season in 2000; it was revamped by new producers and became a hit the next year.

In the case of “I’m a Rich Kid,” Granada USA will still be involved in the production, while former ABC exec John Saade is expected to return as an exec producer.

But unlike “I’m a Celebrity,” contestants won’t spend huge chunks of time contemplating their navels.

“They’re definitely going to be testing both their physical and mental abilities,” Wong said. “It’s going to give them a chance to prove that they’re different than people’s preconceived notions of rich kids.”

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