June 23, 2011 5:35pm PT by Jethro Nededog
'Expedition Impossible': EP Mark Burnett on Why This Isn't 'Amazing Race'
After creating and producing the extreme survival race, Eco-Challenge, for cable television in the mid-nineties, Mark Burnett went on to make a much sleeker show that takes place in one beautiful location CBS’s Survivor. His new show, Expedition Impossible, which premieres on ABC Thursday at 9 p.m. would seem like an amalgamation of the two. It pits 13 diverse teams of three against each other in a race across the harsh terrain of the Kingdom of Morocco.
These shows would seem to vicariously fulfill Burnett’s own desire to find adventure. “I wish I could have done this race,” Burnett tells The Hollywood Reporter.
“I’ve always liked adventure television,” he says. “Pre-Survivor, I did a series on cable called Eco-Challenge, an adventure race with experts mainly, and here we have Expedition Impossible. I like the outdoors and I like doing something fresh for television you haven’t seen before. I think this is a good summer series and a good vicarious adventure.”
Burnett has clearly been able to figure out what America wants. His hits have ranged from CBS’ Survivor to NBC’s The Apprentice, and he successfully took on the competitive reality singing show field with NBC’s The Voice. He tells us that a lot of that success lies in picking the right contestants who strike a chord with viewers.
“It’s a huge country, America, right? 300-million people and it’s a hardy country. And so many people wanted an adventure,” he tells us about casting the new show. “It was really more about finding the cast that I wanted for Expedition Impossible, so it had good diversity, and people could really say, ‘Oh, there’s the firefighters, there’s the team of cops, there’s the grandpa’ – so that you can really relate with them.”
Of course, hit reality TV formulas seem to be the thing Burnett is good at creating or innovating. And Expedition Impossible may echo another reality TV show, CBS’ Amazing Race, a bit too closely for critics. Burnett says the two shows are nothing alike.
“I think Amazing Race is great,” he says after we ask about the comparison. “I love all quality television, but this is certainly not like Amazing Race.”
“There’s no taxis. There’s no hotels. This is very, very different,” he continues. “Here, you actually need to put yourself on the line, really be willing to cross the deserts and the mountains and use the camels and the horses. So, it’s a very, very much more difficult competition.”
Watch a preview below.