First it was poker. Then came dodgeball and blackjack. Now, Magic Johnson and reality producer Phil Gurin are hoping the next celeb TV craze will be … horse.
Duo are developing a new take on the playground hoops favorite, which pits two or more players against one other in a basketball shoot-off. Talks are already under way with potential sponsors, with the project set to be pitched to broadcast or cable outlets in the coming weeks.
“You don’t have to spell ‘horse.’ Maybe you could spell ‘Pepsi’ or ‘Nokia,’ ” Gurin joked. “It’s a completely sponsor-friendly show.”
Johnson and Gurin will exec produce the tentatively titled “Celebrity Horse” via their respective shingles, Magic Johnson Enterprises and the Gurin Co.
Classic rules for horse call for two or more players to try to make baskets from various spots around the court. When one person makes a shot, the other players have to attempt the shot from the same spot; anyone who misses is assigned one of the five letters that spell “horse” and is out when the word is completed. The last person left wins.
Gurin said the idea for the show came together during a spitballing session with his reps at William Morris, which also reps Johnson’s company. “They suggested we all come together to do this,” he said.
Because “so many celebrities are big basketball players,” Gurin said, attracting talent shouldn’t be too tough. Contestants will compete for charity, and Gurin said it’s possible an entire season of the show could be taped over a weekend.
Current plan is to have a series of round-robin matchups between East and West Coast leagues, culminating in a potentially live finale. Johnson will likely have an on-air presence, possibly as a color commentator.
Gurin also hopes to attract former or current NBA coaches to serve as coaches for various teams.
Johnson has brought street hoops to the small screen before. He exec produced the MTV skein “Who’s Got Game?” a few years back. He also exec produced the 1998 TNT telepic “Passing Glory.”
Gurin’s numerous credits include NBC’s version of Blighty’s “The Weakest Link” and Fox’s “Test the Nation” as well as the Miss Teen USA and Miss Universe pageants.