The younger-skewing Viacom network has revived Fear Factor with an order for a 12-episode reboot to be hosted and exec produced by Ludacris, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. The revival, which will premiere Tuesday, May 30, at 10 p.m., is the first project to stem from a new overall deal MTV inked with Ludacris.
The new incarnation will flip the script on its targeted Generation Z audience and instead of gross-out challenges (like eating worms), will be more playful with the hope of providing a cathartic tension release along the way. The newly designed stunts are geared at tapping into visceral fears of today’s anxious youth — such as couch surfing at 300 feet and waterlogging personal cellphones.
Inspired by urban legends, scary movies and online videos from the zeitgeist, contestants will be pushed beyond their comfort zones where their body’s physiological responses will take over. Each hourlong episode will feature eight contestants pairing up in four teams of two — think siblings, college rivalries, roommates, best friends, co-workers and exes — and facing off for a cash prize.
The MTV reboot hails from Endemol Shine North America, which produced the original series. Original exec producers Anthony Carbone and Kevin Wehrenberg are returning to serve in the same capacity. They will be joined by Charles Wachter (American Gladiators), Rob Smith and Robin Feinberg for Endemol. MTV head of unscripted Nina L. Diaz will oversee for the network alongside Pamela Post and Tim Palazzola.
Fear Factor was based on a Dutch format called Now or Neverland, with NBC and Endemol changing the franchise’s name for U.S. audiences. It has been adapted all over the world.
Ludacris will take over as host, previously Rogan’s role. Fear Factor comes at a busy time for the singer-actor, who recently released the first single from his forthcoming studio album. He also has been busy doing press ahead of the April 14 debut of The Fate of the Furious, in which he reprises his role as Tej. He next voices a role in the animated feature Show Dogs. Fear Factor will be his largest TV commitment to date. He’s repped by CAA and Fox Rothschild.
Fear Factor becomes the latest unscripted show to get a revival as the reality space returns to its roots as new concepts — and hits — become increasingly challenging to find. ABC is bringing back Battle of the Network Stars as the Disney-owned network has found success with other retro shows like Celebrity Family Feud and Match Game as well as the upcoming Love Connection and Gong Show.
For MTV, Fear Factor joins a roster of reality competition series including veteran The Challenge and recent launch Stranded With a Million Dollars. The decision to revive Fear Factor comes as MTV president Chris McCarthy has stressed his plan to reinvigorate the network focus on “everything it is to be young” with universal moments similar to those seen on staples The Hills, Jersey Shore and Laguna Beach. Below, McCarthy talks with The Hollywood Reporter about what to expect from the new Fear Factor and how it fits in with his vision for MTV.
Talk us through the decision to reboot Fear Factor. What made that franchise appealing for MTV?
How much is the cash prize?
There will be a $50,000 per episode cash prize.
Will Joe Rogan be involved at all?
No, but you never know who may pop up.
In success, is this a renewable series or a one-off?
How does Fear Factor speak to the types of programming that the new MTV is looking for?
What does having Fear Factor mean for The Challenge? Can both shows coexist?