Reelz Orders First Competition Reality Series, 'Race to the Scene'
This story first appeared in the August 3 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
For a network that bills itself as TV about Movies, it’s only fitting that the Reelz Channel’s first foray into competition reality will be with a show about the movies.
That series, Race to the Scene, will feature pairs of contestants who race to and from actual movie locations as they compete in challenges and stunts inspired by memorable movie moments. The effort, which will be hosted by action star Dolph Lundgren (The Expendables), is set to premiere in spring 2013.
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“It’s a whole different path for us, but it fits into our filter of big stories, big stars and things that revolve around movies,” says Reelz channel chief executive Stan E. Hubbard, who ordered the project straight-to-series in his push to grow both his audience and his brand with splashy fare.
“Our strategy when we got into this business was to do big and different, and one of the ways to do that is to get in first and early with companies,” notes Justin Hochberg, whose Hochberg Ebersol Company is producing Reelz’ first competition effort just as it did TNT and USA’s reality forays with The Great Escape and The Moment, respectively.
“The way we see it, this isn’t a show for cinephiles or actors; this is a show for the person who goes to and loves big, popcorn movies.”
Hochberg and his partner Charlie Ebersol began talking to the network about the project a little over a year ago, and have since spent time selecting iconic scenes –think Bruce Willis jumping off Nakatomi Tower in Die Hard-- for which to recreate. Adds Ebersol, a self-declared “fan boy”: “The design of this show was to find the movies where you could know them just by seeing one frame.”
For Reelz, which was put on the map with the airing of the controversial Kennedys miniseries in 2011, Race is part of a larger push into the originals space. “We are approached, and pitched and sought out in ways that we never were before we aired The Kennedys,” says Hubbard, who adds of his commitment to continued expansion: “The people who create these big projects know now that we’re able and willing to step up in a big way to support big ideas and bring them to life on screen.”
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News of Race’s launch comes some two months after the network announced it would be movingforward with a Meg Tilly drama vehicle entitled Bomb Girls, World Without End, an eight-part miniseries adapted from a best-selling Ken Follett novel and a docu-series entitled Beverly Hills Pawn, revolving around Yossi Dina’s Beverly Hills-based pawn shop.
“Beverly Hills is synonymous with Hollywood,” says Hubbard, explaining how the project fits into his growing brand, “and it’s going to tie to and have people that others around the country will recognize and know.”