5:30am PT by Kimberly Nordyke
Science Channel Reviving 'MythBusters,' Seeking Hosts via Reality Series (Exclusive)
Science Channel is reviving MythBusters.
The Hollywood Reporter has learned exclusively that the Discovery-owned cable network has greenlighted a reality competition series titled Search for the Next MythBusters, which comes on the heels of the series finale for the original show in early March. MythBusters, which ran for 14 seasons, featured Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman using science to put various myths and rumors to the test.
Search will focus on finding an "all-new generation of myth-busting science superstars with mind-blowing build skills and nerves of steel." It will involve both social media and stunts as it tests a cast of hopefuls on their skills as they compete in various challenges.
"When I got to the network, and we clearly identified MythBusters as a franchise and something that was important to Science Channel and Discovery, and it was such a beloved show, I didn't want to let it go," says Marc Etkind, who became general manager of Science Channel in September after serving in the same role at sibling network Destination America. "So we looked really closely at what would be the best way to keep it going and invigorate it and thought, 'Let's host a worldwide search for the next MythBusters.'"
To that end, Science Channel is inviting viewers to submit videos. Ideal candidates are "people who have building skills and are naturally inquisitive," Etkind says. "People who don't mind getting embarrassed a little bit, who ask lots of questions and have the skills and knowledge to put those to the test." (Science Channel's website has further details.)
The competition will start with 15 participants who look to solve challenges that include classic myths from the show as well as new myths. Hopefuls will be eliminated on each episode by a panel of judges — consisting of those who have been involved with MythBusters at some point over the years — until the final picks are made. Etkind says it could be one person or several people, depending on what happens.
Asked if the next incarnation of MythBusters will have the same format or be something entirely new, Etkind says that remains to be seen. "We'll see who emerges victorious and from those folks determine what the best format is," he explains. "It's a long-running goal for Science Channel to have MythBusters on the air."
Also, as part of its upfronts announcements, the network has greenlighted a new series dubbed How to Build … Everything and renewed Through the Wormhole With Morgan Freeman.
How to Build … Everything, which is "structured in the spirit of a home-installation guide," aims to show the step-by-step building process behind some of the world's most complex apparatuses — such as Apache helicopters, hovercrafts, cruise ships and satellites — in a way that anyone can understand.
"It approaches the building of everything from cruise ships to helicopters in a basic, fun way," Etkind says. "You may not be able to go out and build a pipe organ, but you can understand how it's built in a modular fashion and understand how it works."
The network also is reviving Punkin Chunkin, which focuses on the annual gathering of unconventional engineers and builders who use air cannons, centrifuges, catapults and even trebuchets to see whose homemade contraptions can propel a pumpkin the farthest. The special last aired in 2013.
"It's a celebration of everyday science. The people who make these machines are backyard engineers," says Etkind. "This is really tapping into the everyday movement of backyard engineers, and that's something we want to celebrate. Science isn't just done by people in lab coats."
Also new to the network is the tentatively titled special Mission Jupiter, covering NASA's New Frontiers Mission, which is en route to the planet.
Wormhole, meanwhile, is set to return for a seventh season. The Emmy-nominated series, hosted by Freeman, explores scientific mysteries and unanswered questions, with upcoming topics on whether we can live without privacy, whether aging can be cured and whether humans can all become geniuses.
"This is probably our most important series," Etkind says. "It's about those large, mind-blowing questions about the meaning of life, and this year we have a slate of new questions that only Morgan and his team can answer. I like the ambition of this series and that it's not afraid to tackle the biggest questions."
Other returning series include Survivorman, How Do They Do It?, How It's Made, What on Earth?, How the Universe Works and Outrageous Acts of Science.
Science Channel — which recently posted its highest-rated quarter among key adult demos of adults 25-54 and 18-49 and its most watched year in primetime — will continue featuring live coverage of breaking news events in the science arena, including NASA space launches, in addition to covering news in its new nightly program Science Presents DNews, which gives updates on space, technology and engineering.
"DNews was important to me and made our channel feel contemporary and current and in the zeitgeist," Etkind says. As a brand overall, "we're tapping into what is just a general interest in science. And when you look at our ratings success, we're really becoming a broad appeal network. Science is for everybody."