'Contender' card for Asia

Singapore set for series adaptation

SINGAPORE -- Mark Burnett Prods. has teamed with Singapore production house Imagine OmniMedia to co-produce the reality competition series "The Contender Asia," scheduled to start shooting in Singapore at the beginning of August.

"Contender Asia" will center on the martial art of Muay Thai, a form of kickboxing, and air on AXN. It marks the first adaptation of the "Contender" format that doesn't center on traditional boxing, said C. Scot Cru, head of international at Mark Burnett Prods.

"We did a global search to find 16 of the best fighters to battle in 'Contender Asia,' " Cru said. "Muay Thai dates back thousands of years, and the popularity of the sport has seen phenomenal growth over the past five years. We're very excited; this show has been a year in the making, and we wanted to get all the elements in place for a great program."

Cru added that negotiations are under way to air "Contender Asia" in the U.S. as well but declined to be more specific.

Imagine OmniMedia said the series is scheduled to air at year's end.

Production details will be unveiled Wednesday during a briefing in Singapore.

In addition to director Ozzie Smith and producer Jerry Schafer, who will oversee production in Singapore, the briefing will be attended by the Media Development Authority of Singapore's CEO Christopher Chia, Imagine OmniMedia CEO Riaz Mehta and a representative of DBS Bank.

Kimberly Nordyke in Los Angeles contributed to this report.