TBS is embracing reality with its inner nerd.
The Turner cable network has greenlit its first unscripted competition series in seven years: King of the Nerds. The project, which will be hosted by two of the stars from the 1984 blockbuster Revenge of the Nerds, Robert Carradine and Curtis Armstrong, comes as TBS has found ratings success with its acquired sitcom, The Big Bang Theory.
TBS has ordered eight episodes of the series, which is scheduled to premiere in early 2013. In what is dubbed the “ultimate nerd-off,” the show invites competitors — all varieties of nerd welcome — to face challenges that will test their intellect, ingenuity, skills and pop-culture prowess. They will begin as teams before breaking into a competition of individuals.
“It’s been said we’re living in the ‘Age of the Nerd,’ and if so, what better way to acknowledge that than to have a competition to crown the King of the Nerds?” said Michael Wright, executive vp and head of programming at TBS, TNT and Turner Classic Movies. “King of the Nerds is a lot of fun as it not only celebrates nerd culture but also illuminates it.”
Nerds is being executive produced by Ben Silverman (The Biggest Loser, Fashion Star) and Jimmy Fox (Mob Wives) of Electus as well as 5X5 Media’s Rick Ringbakk (The Amazing Race), Tod Mesirow (MythBusters) and Craig Armstrong (Survivor). Carradine and Armstrong also serve as executive producers on the show, with Electus International set to distribute the series internationally.
According to Electus head of creative deleveopment Jimmy Fox, the project was pitched domestically on the idea that nerd is the new cool. “We’re in the middle of this generation that’s all about nerd chic,” he told The Hollywood Reporter, noting the rise of such leading men as Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill and Jesse Eisenberg. Added Electus chief executive Chris Grant of the concept and the series’ global appeal, “We expect to be doing nerd warfare around the world.”
The show joins an ambitious slate, including upcoming TBS scripted originals Men at Work, a Danny Masterson comedy bowing in May; Sullivan & Son, a summertime Steve Byrne sitcom executive produced by Vince Vaughn; and Wedding Band, a Brian Austin Green ensemble comedy slated for later this year.
For its part, sister network TNT is also making its push into reality, with its first competition show, The Great Escape, launching in the summer. The series, which counts Ron Howard, Brian Grazer and The Amazing Race‘s Bertram van Munster among its executive producers, which will drop contestants into such locales as a deserted island or a maximum-security prison.
The Armstrong (Risky Business) and Carradine (The Big Red One, Ghosts of Mars) series was packaged by Don Buchwald and Associates/Fortitude.
Email: Lacey.Rose@THR.com; Twitter: @LaceyVRose