6:15am PT by Lesley Goldberg
Facebook Greenlights Reality Competition Series 'Last State Standing' (Exclusive)
Facebook is pushing full-steam ahead with its efforts to enter the original content business.
The social media giant has closed a deal for reality competition series Last State Standing.
While specific details are being kept under wraps, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the series hails from American Ninja Warrior producers A. Smith and Co.'s Arthur Smith. It will feature 50 contestants — one from every state in the U.S. — competing in unique and crazy games for a chance to win a $500,000 cash prize.
Production on the series has already begun in Los Angeles. A premiere date, episode count and rollout plan has yet to be determined. A. Smith and Co. and Facebook declined to comment.
The news comes a day after THR exclusively reported that Facebook has revived the Nicole Byer scripted comedy Loosely Exactly Nicole four months after MTV canceled the low-rated series after one season. The family comedy hails from Jax Media and 3 Arts; MTV is no longer involved.
The Byer comedy reunites the comedian with Mina Lefevre, who developed the series during her tenure as executive vp at MTV. She exited the Viacom network in February before moving to Facebook as head of development.
Loosely Exactly Nicole and Last State Standing will be among the tentpole projects that Facebook uses to lure viewers to its new video tab. It's an effort that began six months ago when Ricky Van Veen, the company's newly hired global head of creative strategy, announced plans to jump-start Facebook's video ecosystem.
Facebook is lining up two types of programming for its video tab, according to sources familiar with its plans. They include shortform series from digital producers such as BuzzFeed and Vox Media and a handful of signature, television-quality series that Facebook is calling "hero" projects. For those top-tier shows, Facebook is said to be looking to spend about six figures per episode for full ownership, which would give it the ability to release them to its global audience of 1.9 billion monthly active users. Terms of its deals for Loosely Exactly Nicole and Last State Standing are unclear.
For L.A.-based A. Smith and Co., Last State Standing joins a roster of unscripted series including NBC's summer reality competition American Ninja Warrior and Spartan: Ultimate Team Challenge, as well as USA Network's Team Ninja Warrior, Fox's Hell's Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares, among others. For its part, American Ninja Warrior has been a staple of NBC's summer reality lineup and earned its first Emmy nomination last year. The series features contestants competing in intense physical challenges in a bid to win $1 million. The series crowned its first winner in 2015 — in its seventh season.