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ITV wins NBC reality commission

UPFRONTS: UK-based ITV Studios has landed an unscripted series commission from US network NBC, one of the channel’s five new reality formats for next season.

Confirmed for 2012/13 but as-yet without a slot, Surprise With Jenny McCarthy looks like a US version of the UK production studio’s long-running series Surprise Surprise, which aired on ITV1 for 14 seasons.

Like the UK show, NBC’s one-hour feelgood series will feature a celebrity host who orchestrates various family reunions, tear-jerking announcements, good-humoured pranks and other emotion-packed events.

Arthur Smith (Hell’s Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares), head of LA-based prodco A Smith & Co, and ITV Studios America’s president Paul Buccieri are executive producers of the NBC show.

The US deal comes weeks after ITV confirmed it will be bringing back Surprise Surprise as a special later this year, with Holly Willoughby taking over from long-standing UK host Cilla Black. The UK show ran from 1984 to 1997, with a few one-offs up until 2001.

NBC today unveiled its sitcom-laden 2012/13 schedule, clearing out a number of unscripted formats to make room for the new titles. The list of cancellations included Escape Routes, Fear Factor, The Sing-Off, Minute to Win It, The Marriage Ref, Who’s Still Standing?, It’s Worth What? and Who Do You Think You Are?

As well as Surprise With Jenny McCarthy, NBC has greenlit a few other reality formats. Howie Mandel’s White Elephant is a gameshow from Universal Television and Alevy Productions based on the traditional parlour game.

Stars Earn Stripes is a celebrity obstacle course show from Law & Order veteran Dick Wolf and The Apprentice creator Mark Burnett that was announced last month. Ready for Love, meanwhile, is a dating show from Desperate Houswives star Eva Longoria’s Unbelievable Entertainment, Renegade 83 and Universal Television that was also announced in April.


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