10:15am PT by Bryn Elise Sandberg
Fox's 'Bullseye' Will Be a "Summer Fun, Blue Skies" Reality Show
Fox is betting big on its new reality show Bullseye.
The stunt show is the latest attempt by Endemol Shine North America, the production company behind Fear Factor and Wipeout, at family friendly entertainment.
“While Fear Factor was scary and tapped into peoples’ fears and Wipeout is more about the failures and the success, this is really a blue skies show about people achieving things that they never thought they would be able to,” said executive producer Jon Kroll, who has worked on The Amazing Race and Big Brother. The idea, he says, is that those watching at home will want to do the challenges, a feeling Kroll doesn’t think viewers necessarily get when watching other stunt game shows.
The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Kroll, who is executive producing the series alongside Scott Larsen (Wipeout, Fear Factor) to discuss the state of reality, what makes Bullseye different and why he picked Kellan Lutz as his host.
When you were developing the show, what were Fox chiefs Dana Walden and Gary Newman’s requirements for it?
Summer fun, blue skies, positive, ages 8 to 80, men, women and other. They were very clear from their standpoint that they wanted a show that was not a testosterone-fueled, boys-and-their-toys show. It needed to definitely have an appeal to both men and women. Let’s face it, Kellan gives you a little female appeal as well. He’s a guy who men would want to hang out with and women would want to date, let’s put it that way. So going for a 50/50 gender split was also really important to this, and also a focus on the amazing opportunity and the joy as opposed to being scared. Even though we’re doing stunts that could be dangerous, they wanted the focus to be on the fun. That’s a point of emphasis that we’ve really worked to do. We’re not looking for people who are afraid of heights; we’re looking for people who will say, “Yeah, I’ll try anything.”
Why do you think the big stunt shows faded in recent years?
They are really, really difficult to pull off. It’s difficult to design more challenges, to keep them fresh, and to execute those challenges. I have been blessed on this show with a team — many of those who have done those other shows and have the expertise required to pull that off — and there are very few people in the industry who have the know-how to know who to even call to get the specialty equipment you need for this. We’re very fortunate that our director, Rupert Thompson, who has done both Fear Factor and Wipeout, knows all the right angles to get. Kevin Wehrenberg is the guy who knows who to call for a 70-ton crane, where you can find a train that you can safely shoot on, that kind of thing. I don’t think there is a B-team for this.
How does the show fit with Fox’s reality rebrand?
I really think that this is a show that has more in common with the audience for American Idol in its heyday than a Master Chef because that show has a very specific type of audience and this show is really good for [ages] 8 to 80. It really is a show that anyone can get into and relate to. Families can sit down and watch, just because there is just a lot of fun in it. In our first episode, people fly for the very first challenge. They are hanging from a helicopter and it’s taking them soaring through the air. I don’t know who wouldn’t look at that and go, “That’s amazing. I want to do that.” A lot of it is kind of like a living, breathing video game and that aspect of it has a lot of appeal to young people, but the notion of being able to fly appeals to humans. I think it’s a broader audience than any other Fox reality show.
What will each episode look like?
It’s a straightforward format. It starts with four men and four women, and the first challenge is that the one closest to the center of the bullseye wins. Four people are eliminated: two men and two women. The second challenge is always hitting the most bullseyes. It’s usually something that has a lot of bulleyes that you can blast with a baseball bat or collect. It’s basically volume. Then the third challenge is first to the bullseye, so it’s a time challenge. So each of the challenges have very different parameters even though they all involve bullseyes. Three people go to the final round, either two women and one man or two men and one woman. Our youngest competitor is 19 years old and our oldest is 70 years old. They are designed to not be challenges where your physicality would give you an advantage.
How did you go about picking your contestants?
We reached out to people before the show was announced. We had a code name, ‘Weekend Warrior.’ We said, “Who is up for something that involved physical challenges with a $50,000 prize?” Of course, the first thing people asked was, “Is this Fear Factor coming back?” And we said, “No, you don’t have to eat anything gross, don’t worry.” That’s another big difference with this show. Where Fear Factor had the one kind of gross out challenge, we have the wacky, twisted, silly challenge in each one that is a little off-beat. We found people all over and we actively did not want to find a bunch of meatheads from the gym. We wanted people of all types. We have a female Olympic medalist in there, a nanny, a school teacher. We stayed away from the personal trainers. We have people from all walks of life. We want someone at home to watch the show and say, “Hey, I can do that, and I can beat those people.”
Why did you pick Kellan Lutz as the host?
Well, there’s always a wide net that’s cast in the beginning, and then you find out who is really interested in doing a show like this. There are certainly a number of people that do these types of shows all the time, but if you’re launching a big, new network brand and if you can get somebody unexpected for it, that’s a lot more interesting than getting a career host. It turns out that Kellan is kind of an adrenaline show junky, and he had hung out on the set of Wipeout and he knew some people on the crew. So when he found out about the show, he let it be known to his team that he was interested. I loved the idea of him, so I hoped on Skype with him. He was so excited about it, and his only question was, “Can I do all the stunts?” I said, “I don’t know if insurance is going to really allow that,” but we let him do one.
And what exactly is Godfrey’s role?
Kellan is such a leading man that we really needed Godfrey as well to be a sort of comic relief. Kellan is the one that hangs out with all of the competitors together, and then when someone goes off to a challenge, Kellan stays with them to provide the play-by-play. Godfrey is the one who preps them and fires them up for the actual stunt. We get to know a little bit about them through him. He also describes the stunts to us in a colorful way. But everything that he does is with a sense of humor.
Bullseye airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on Fox.