Viewers get chance to be 'Trivial'

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Just in time for its 25th anniversary, Trivial Pursuit is headed to television.

Debmar-Mercury has snapped up worldwide TV distribution rights to the Hasbro brand, partnering with the company to deliver a syndicated half-hour strip titled "Trivial Pursuit: America Plays" to broadcast stations for fall 2008. Format rights also will be available to international territories.

What's unique about the game show is that it will rely heavily on user-generated content, whereby viewers submit questions via video uploads to participating station Web sites, which also will give them a chance to win money if their question stumps the in-studio contestant. Debmar-Mercury, distributor of first-run syndicated programs including game show "Family Feud" and comedy series "Tyler Perry's House of Payne," said there will be additional opportunities for station involvement in the production.

Mort Marcus, who serves as co-president of Debmar-Mercury alongside Ira Bernstein, likened the user-generated video concept to that of the CNN/YouTube presidential debates allowing voters to submit questions to candidates in a video format.

"Every single question that will be asked on the game show will be asked by the viewers in a video," he said. "It's a cool way for viewers to be involved, and it will be done very organically."

Wheeler-Sussman Prods. is producing the show, having developed the format. Burt Wheeler and Sharon Sussman have 15 years of game show experience, with credits including "Sale of the Century," "Scrabble" and "Scattergories."

The show is being offered on a cash-plus-barter basis, with Debmar-Mercury targeting early fringe and access slots. A host has not yet been named.

Marcus said Debmar-Mercury is co-financing the show with Hasbro. They also have formulated plans for a multimillion-dollar national marketing campaign as well as local marketing plans, Marcus added.

"One of the things about Trivial Pursuit is that we felt that the name of the game brought such high awareness that tune-in would be high, and tied together with the national and local marketing pushes, (the show) will bring viewers," he said.

Added Bernstein: "We are excited to be working with Hasbro and look forward to partnering on an aggressive marketing plan in support of the 'Trivial Pursuit: America Plays' launch."

WMA's Mark Itkin brokered the deal, which is part of an aggressive push into the entertainment industry by Hasbro since it signed with WMA. It also marks the company's first TV deal, following on the heels of this summer's feature film "Transformers" and the upcoming "G.I. Joe."

" 'Trivial Pursuit: America Plays' is a great example of extending a Hasbro brand into a new arena, where we will be able to reach new audiences in addition to build upon our existing fan base," Hasbro Games group executive Phil Jackson said. "The strong focus on marketing is exactly what is needed to ensure success for one of our top properties."

Trivial Pursuit was introduced in the U.S. in 1982. There have been numerous versions of the game released since the launch, with more than 85 million sold worldwide.
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