The networks pledged to keep reality TV to a minimum this season. In fact, the only new reality program announced for the fall was The WB's Steve Harvey's Big Time.
But while they hope for fall success, the networks also must be ready to replace freshman series that crash and burn. To that end, NBC is preparing an unscripted show, Next Action Star, for launch as early as this month if necessary, sources said.
The series, executive-produced by Joel Silver, is part contest, part unscripted drama, pitting 14 contestants against each other in a series of stunts. The group consists of seven men and seven women living under the same roof, with one winner from each gender landing a part in an NBC TV movie. The network is in talks with General Motors about a product-placement deal for the show, said a rep for GM's media planning shop, Publicis Groupe's GM Mediaworks, Warren, Mich.
Buyers said the likeliest berth for Action Star is Tuesdays at 8 p.m., if Whoopi and Happy Family underperform. "Tuesday 8-9 has remained a challenging time period for NBC, and that may continue this year," said John Rash, svp/director of broadcast negotiations at Campbell Mithun.
Sources said NBC could also fill a scheduling hole with the unscripted relationship drama Average Joe, initially set to air this summer. Network reps were unavailable for comment on the launch of either series.
For now, Rash said, he is reserving judgment. "Until any network replaces a scripted program with a new reality show, we must take their schedule announcements at face value," he said.