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‘The World’s Best’ Producers Bullish on Challenging ‘America’s Got Talent’

There’s room in the unscripted television landscape for more than one talent variety show, according to the “The World’s Best” producers at CBS’ winter TCA press tour Wednesday.

While indicating that the mid-season edition of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent: The Champions” was a “direct shot at us,” executive producer Mike Darnell sounded bullish on the prospects for “The World’s Best,” a talent competition show that incorporates an international judging element.

In addition to judges RuPaul, Drew Barrymore and Faith Hill, 50 expert talents from around the globe – K-pop singers, martial arts experts, ballet dancers – constitute the Wall of the World and will also weigh in on the contestants on stage.

Watching performers who have spent years perfecting their expertise, RuPaul said he “wasn’t prepared for the emotional journey” that the show took him on, calling it “fantastic.”

Darnell, an executive whose credits include “Ellen’s Game of Games,” “Love Connection,” and “Little Big Shots” – not to mention “American Idol” during his time at Fox – said that the reality genre is “healthy.”

While genres like comedy and drama are pretty well defined, he said, unscripted is a pretty wide swath, “so when something’s not working, something else is taking off.” He also said reality is a “super important” genre on an advertiser level, given the heft of reality-show seasons compared to scripted series.

Hosted by James Corden and offering a million-dollar prize, “The World’s Best” has a coveted premiere spot, debuting on CBS immediately after the Super Bowl on Sunday.

Calling it a “mighty title,” executive producer Alison Holloway said that the name has “spurred us as producers to do the very best that we can” with a new talent format that has “no template.”

And pointing to the success of “The Voice” and its swinging judging chairs amid an already competitive landscape of singing competition shows, Darnell highlighted the way that a new element can differentiate a show. “The World’s Best” adds a “global feel” and “dramatic way of scoring” that he says makes the show feel “fresh and new.”

“We’re ready for the challenge,” said Darnell. “We think we’ve got the next new spin on a variety show.”

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