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Real deal at Endemol

Kunitz turns back on 'Fear'

“Fear Factor” showrunner Matt Kunitz has left NBC Universal for reality powerhouse Endemol USA, ending a six-year run at the Peacock.

Kunitz has inked a two-year, seven-figure production deal with Endemol, which produces hits including “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” “Deal or No Deal” and “Big Brother.”

His first gig at Endemol will be adapting and exec producing Endemol’s U.S. version of “American Idol”-like singing competish “Operacion Triunfo” for ABC. Skein is already casting and could be on the air as soon as this summer (Daily Variety, Feb. 7).

Endemol and Kunitz are not strangers: Studio produces “Fear Factor” for NBC. That relationship prompted Endemol USA prexy David Goldberg to go after Kunitz when the producer’s deal with NBC U expired.

“He’s been the driving force behind the success of ‘Fear Factor,'” Goldberg said, “He’s highly creative, fiscally responsible and a good manager of people.”

In addition to launching “Triunfo,” Kunitz will develop and create original programming for Endemol.

Studio’s independence — unlike NBC U, which produces reality shows mainly for the Peacock net — was appealing to Kunitz.

“It will give me the freedom to develop relationships with all the networks, while maintaining a home base with a company that I have (worked with before),” Kunitz said.

Last April, Kunitz extended his overall deal with NBC U through 2007. He asked the Peacock to release him from his deal so he could sign with Endemol.

Kunitz has exec produced all 145 episodes of “Fear Factor,” which until recently was a fixture on the NBC sked. Net hasn’t yet said whether the show will return for a new season next fall, but original segs likely will air this summer.

During his Peacock run, Kunitz exec produced “Dog Eat Dog” for the network, as well as “Late Friday.” He’s a consultant on the net’s summer skein “Treasure Hunters.”

Before joining NBC in 1999, CAA-repped Kunitz spent five years on MTV’s “The Real World,” rising to supervising producer.

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