Shaquille O’Neal is coming to primetime — as a reality star.
NBA superstar and sometime thesp is in production on a six-episode reality weight-loss skein for ABC that is scheduled to air this summer.
Untitled hourlong focuses on the Miami Heat center embarking on a campaign to help Florida elementary and junior high school kids lose weight. Over the course of the show’s run, O’Neal will interact with the kids as he encourages them to stay on their regimen.
Show is currently lensing in Broward County, Fla.
RDF USA (“Wife Swap”) is exec producing, along with O’Neal, Rick Ringbakk, Perry Rogers, Chris Handy and Mike Perris.
RDF USA exec producers Greg Goldman, Stephen Lambert and Chris Coelen are all involved the program. Goldman spearheaded U.S. development, Lambert created the format, and Coelen runs RDF USA as its CEO.
Series will follow the lives of the children as well as of O’Neal himself, who in episodes that have not yet been shot will lobby politicians on school nutrition and other issues.
“Shaq is upset about this issue and he’s going to do whatever it takes to set this cause right,” Coelen said.
ABC confirmed the six episode run and the summer airdate, but declined to comment on other details.
Show is an adaptation of the British skein “Ian Wright’s Unfit Kids.” Series, which aired on Channel 4 in the U.K. last year, featured a former Arsenal football star who also worked with overweight kids.
Over his fifteen seasons in the NBA, O’Neal has fashioned more of a Hollywood career than most of his peers, starring in a string of ’90’s movies, including “Kazaam,” “Blue Chips” and “Steel.”
He’s also played himself on a number of reality shows, including “Fear Factor” and “Punk’d,” and also had an ESPN reality series.
But move marks first time superstar will be in broadcast primetime.
While he hasn’t committed to anything beyond this series. it’s possible show could be franchised, either with O’Neal or with another star.
O’Neal has made childhood obesity a pet cause, starting a social-awareness program about the issue in south Florida. “Many of our kids are living in dangerous conditions,” he said. “I felt that I had to get involved.”