April 05, 2012 5:00pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
Dick Wolf, Mark Burnett Team for Celebrity Military Series at NBC
NBC has enlisted Dick Wolf and Mark Burnett for an unscripted reality competition series to benefit the armed forces.
Stars Earn Stripes (working title) will feature celebrities going head-to-head as they compete in elite training and challenges similar to those performed by high-level Special Forces such as Navy SEALs and the Green Berets.
For Wolf, the project marks a departure from scripted fare he's known for, with the last-place broadcast network turning to the Law & Order veteran in an effort to boost its fortunes.
Nine stars from the film, music and sports worlds will gather at a secret top-notch military training facility, and each will be paired with a trainer tasked with preparing them for different weekly challenges. The challenges will be adapted from real exercises practiced by all five branches of the armed services -- as well as joint ops and Special Forces -- and include tasks like a staged hostage rescue that will test the celebrities physically, mentally and emotionally.
"I think this is a unique opportunity to pay tribute to our troops and first responders who put their lives on the line every day," Wolf said. "Mark and I are looking forward to working together as we bring this exciting, dramatic and entertaining competition to viewers."
The show was created to put a spotlight on the U.S. armed forces, and stars will compete for cash prizes with the money going to a military charity of their choice.
Stars Earn Stripes will be executive produced by Wolf, Burnett and David A. Hurwitz, whose credits include Fear Factor and American Gladiators. No premiere date or episode order has been determined.
The vehicle marks the latest unscripted entry for Burnett, whose many credits include CBS' Survivor and NBC's The Voice. The reality guru also is teaming with The Glee Project's Michael Davies for The Job, a reality series in which five contestants compete for their dream job. CBS has given a pilot order to the project, which counts James Sunderland (America's Got Talent) among its executive producers. Lisa Ling is on board to host.
"When I see someone in a military uniform, I make it a point to approach them, shake their hand and say five words … 'thank you for your service,' " Burnett said. "Stars Earn Stripes is a high-energy, fun action show, but at its heart, it is all about those five words. Our celebrities are going to experience the high adrenaline that Special Forces and law enforcement encounter and will realize how very hard and scary it is to do those jobs. I encourage everyone who reads this today to say those five words the next time they see someone in uniform -- be it military or law enforcement.”
In addition to Law & Order: SVU, Wolf also has the drama pilot Chicago Fire in development at NBC, with The Vampire Diaries' Taylor Kinney attached to star.
Wolf is repped by WME, 3Arts Entertainment and Ziffren Brittenham. Hurwitz is with WME.
Lacey Rose contributed to this report.