'Choirs' clash at Christmas


NBC is putting a new twist on the reality singing-competition genre with "Clash of the Choirs," a new series from "Dancing With the Stars" producer BBC Worldwide Prods.

NBC has ordered a holiday-themed four-episode installment of "Choirs" to air as a strip Dec. 17-20, the week leading up to Christmas. The show could be picked up for additional cycles.

Based on a format by Scandinavian company Friday TV, "Choirs" will follow five celebrity singers who go back to their hometowns to assemble an amateur choir made up of everyday people.

The choirs will then compete in live performance shows in music genres ranging from pop hits to holiday classics. Groups will be eliminated by viewers, who will vote via phone, text message or at NBC.com until a winner is selected. It hasn't been decided yet if there will be a judging panel critiquing the performances.

In the holiday spirit, the winning choir, along with the celebrity that selected them, will pick a prize that will help their hometown and give back to their community -- anything from a renovating a school gym to creating a neighborhood park.

"This is a wonderful feel-good event series," said Craig Plestis, executive vp alternative programming, development and specials at NBC. "I see every TV set in America turned on, people wrapping presents and singing along."

"Choirs" will kick off with a two-hour premiere episode at 9 p.m. Dec. 17, followed by a one-hour at 9 p.m. Dec. 18 , a two-hour show at 9 p.m. Dec. 19 and a one-hour finale at 8 p.m. Dec. 20. Airing the show on four consecutive nights follows the launch pattern of other NBC reality series, including the hit game show "Deal or No Deal," which also started as a strip with a weeklong run.

"It's a good test for a series, a way to help launch a series for a later life," Plestis said.

Paul Telegdy, exec vp content and production at BBC Worldwide Americas, said he initially got the same bewildered reaction to his pitch for "Choirs" as the one he got for "Dancing," which was turned down by ABC three times before the network committed to it.

"But I think that a primetime show about choirs will work for the same reason a show about ballroom dancing does: We think it will be compelling and bold," said Telegdy, who exec produces "Choirs."

"Choirs" marks the second collaboration between NBC and BBC Worldwide following "Grease: You're the One That I Want."

Friday TV, which has developed such popular global reality formats as "Expedition Robinson" and "The Farm," is repped by ICM.