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Kids to rule reality on CBS

Show offers new take on 'Lord of the Flies'

CBS is ready to unleash a reality take on “Lord of the Flies,” quietly wrapping filming on a new skein in which a group of 8- to 15-year-olds will create their own society.

Tom Forman, showrunner on “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” is behind the 13-episode project, tentatively titled “Kid Nation.”  

Eye is expected to unveil the show Wednesday at its upfront presentation. It’s unclear if “Kids’ Nation” will land on the fall sked, but it wouldn’t be surprising if it did. 

Project was originally pegged for a summer debut but was held for the 2007-08 season after CBS execs became excited about its breakout potential. Eye’s other reality staples — “Survivor” and “Amazing Race” — have been greenlit for two cycles and one cycle, respectively.

CBS reality guru Ghen Maynard has been feverishly working on nearly two dozen unscripted concepts for the Eye and cousin net the CW. 

With “Survivor” and “Amazing Race” both aging, execs at CBS have made finding the next big reality hit a huge priority. Effort begins in earnest later this month with “Pirate Master,” premiering on the same date “Survivor” originally bowed.

As for “Kid Nation,” skein will follow 40 kids for 40 days, observing them as they attempt to build a new society from scratch.

Rather than surviving on an island, the kiddies relocated to Bonanza City, N.M., a ghost town abandoned more than a century ago. Prodigal children live without parental supervision and modern comforts.

Goal for the kids is to build a functional society. They have to pass laws, choose leaders and build an economy. People familiar with the project said the kids may also be given choices between things they need (food and supplies) and things they want (think Nintendo Wii).

Unlike most reality shows, there will be no mandated eliminations. Kids can go home when they want to.

Rather than weekly exits, each seg will end with a feel-good moment in which one kid is selected by his peers to earn a major reward.

CBS brass have kept the project quiet in part out of fear that the idea of the project — kids living sans parents — could kick up a media frenzy and threaten production before it began. By wrapping the show before its announcement, net will now be able to show off clips and perhaps quash some pre-broadcast controversy.

Eye also wanted to avoid giving potential copycats too many details about the project, mindful of many past cases in which rivals have ripped off each other’s concepts.

“Kid Nation” is being produced via Tom Forman Prods. and Good TV Inc. Eye execs declined comment. Forman, who’s repped by CAA, inked a multiyear overall deal with CBS Par Network Television last year (Daily Variety, March 30, 2006).

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