Burnett signs to MTV Movie Awards

Reality guru to executive produce awards show

Mark Burnett is expanding his empire to include kudocasts, signing on as exec producer of the 16th annual MTV Movie Awards.

The “Survivor” guru replaces Joel Gallen, who’s produced the nontraditional kudos for more than a decade. MTV exec Sally Frattini — who worked with Burnett on the latter’s “Eco-Challenge” — will continue in her role as exec producer.

In a first, this year’s kudos will be broadcast live, rather than pre-taped. They’ll be held June 3 at a Los Angeles venue to be announced later.

Decision to hire Burnett comes in the wake of continued ratings decline for the kudos. Last year’s event averaged 3.22 million viewers and a 1.6/5 in adults 18-49 — down 30% in the demo from 2005 and 43% vs. 2004. Ratings were also off in the cabler’s core demo of adults 12-34.

Burnett has no prior experience producing an awards show — and that’s a plus, said MTV prexy Christina Norman.

“The fact that he hasn’t done an awards show is really appealing,” she said. “We wanted someone to come in with a really fresh perspective.”

Burnett said he doesn’t plan on blowing up the framework Gallen had established for the Movie Awards.

“This is not about radical change,” he said. “The movie spoofs need to stay, the (offbeat) categories need to stay. It’s just about making sure the show isn’t being overproduced, and not being too slick. What makes the show special is when the viewers feel like they’re just hanging out with the stars.”

Norman says she and Burnett have already talked about a number of ways to bring the sexy back to the kudocast, including adding user-generated content.

“Being live will also really help add to the ability of the stars to be themselves, to totally go off-prompter,” Burnett said.

Producer said he and Norman have already been talking about ideas for hosts and are also close to a decision on a venue.

Burnett also plans to continue the tradition of linking the Movie Awards to the summer tentpoles, which this year includes the third installments of the “Spider-Man,” “Shrek” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchises.

Expected to launch around when the Movie Awards will be held is “On the Lot,” the amateur film-focused reality skein Burnett and Steven Spielberg are producing for Fox. There aren’t any current plans to promote that project on MTV, though he and Norman said they may discuss the idea.

Meanwhile, though not ready to discuss specifics, Norman hinted that she’s also in the process of exploring possible changes to cabler’s signature Video Music Awards.