It's not clear who's dealing a hotter hand right now — Chris Hardwick or NBC's reality division.
The ubiquitous host, familiar to anyone who watches AMC, Comedy Central's @midnight or the new NBC game show The Wall, will topline yet another series with the six-episode order for The Awesome Show. Described as something in the same vein of Top Gear, but with an eye toward science and technology, it marks the third alternative series order NBC has made in the last week.
Like recent commission The Handmade Project and The Wall, this one also hails from in-house Universal Television Alternative Studio. But The Awesome Show finds Hardwick joined by prolific and formidable format creator Mark Burnett as executive producer. “Innovation and discovery is something anyone at any age can participate in, and to be able to highlight and inspire an audience is very exciting,” said Burnett, president of MGM TV. “Chris Hardwick has the perfect balance of humor and knowledge when it comes to exploring the depths of what is possible, and the audience will be entertained while at the same time having their minds blown!”
Burnett is also behind NBC flagship The Voice, among many other reality series, but this is his first stab in quite some time at this kind of format. The show, in partnership with Silicon Valley institution Singularity University, will showcase the scientific and technological advances aimed at shaping the future — while celebrating the its many players. Hardwick will host, executive produce and develop the forthcoming project under his Nerdist banner. (Brillstein's Alex Murray will also serve as EP.)
“The opportunity to develop a primetime show that celebrates science and technology was too good to pass up," said Hardwick. “I started Nerdist 10 years ago as a tech news site. I was a contributor to Wired magazine for several years and hosted Wired Science on PBS. It is very important to me to make something that positively promotes these topics in order to share humanity's triumphs, to instill hope for our future and to inspire the next generation of young thinkers.”
The Wall, hosted and produced by Hardwick, has been a boon to NBC — the highest-rated unscripted launch of the year. Its initial run averaged a 1.7 rating among adults 18-49 and 6.7 million viewers. A new batch of episodes will premiere this summer.
It's another order of NBC's relatively young unscripted studio. The studio, also behind summer 2016 surprise Better Late Than Never and the upcoming Jennifer Lopez project World of Dance, has been on a selling spree with its broadcast sibling.
"By highlighting the pioneers of tomorrow who dare to think differently to improve the way we live, work, play, move and communicate, Chris Hardwick and his team will help us navigate the future in a hilarious and uplifting way," said Meredith Ahr, president of Universal Television Alternative Studio. "This will be a first-of-its-kind series that will bring the whole family together and start conversations about things that truly matter."