FOX orders "Secret Millionaire" reality show
- From: David <dimlan17@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Mon, 12 May 2008 22:21:00 -0700 (PDT)
from the hollywood reporter
'Secret Millionaire' set for Fox
Reality series is a modern 'Prince and the Pauper'
By James Hibberd
Fox's newest reality experiment is a modern-day twist on "The Prince
and the Pauper."
The network is set to announce "Secret Millionaire," a new series from
RDF USA in which wealthy benefactors go undercover in impoverished
neighborhoods. For about 10 days, a multimillionaire meets financially
destitute locals and experiences what it's like to live on a meager
budget for the first time in their lives. At the show's conclusion,
the millionaire reveals his true identity to the community and gives a
minimum of $100,000 of his own money to at least one deserving person.
"How often do we see somebody who's homeless on the street and wonder
what it would be like to live like that?" Fox president of alternative
entertainment Mike Darnell asked. "Whereas the superwealthy are so
detached from that experience. This is a really clever conceit and has
a great emotional arc to it."
Fox ordered six episodes of the hourlong series. The network plans to
unveil the show Thursday at its upfront presentation to advertisers in
New York. "Secret Millionaire" is based on a Channel 4 U.K. hit from
RDF Media that has aired for two seasons, is ordered for a third and
won the prestigious Rose d'Or award in 2007 for best reality series.
"It's going to be huge," said Chris Coelen, CEO of RDF USA ("Don't
Forget the Lyrics," "Wife Swap"). "It's got a 'fish out of water'
element -- which is always fun -- and it's got the inspirational
stories about what these people are doing in their communities. And
then there's an unbelievable emotional payoff."
"Secret Millionaire" producers sought participants with assets in
"triple-digit-million range" who have lived sheltered lives. Most are
men, but not all. Each episode tracks two story lines: the
millionaire's culture shock as he or she is immersed in poverty and
the rags-to-riches fairy tale of struggling individuals who gain an
unexpected financial windfall. The millionaires are required to give
at least $100,000 and might split the reward among several people.
Philanthropic reality shows have been increasingly popular the past
couple of years, led by ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and,
most recently, "Oprah's Big Give." Yet some attempts to capitalize on
them have flopped, such as NBC's "Three Wishes" and ABC's "The
"Aspiration for the sake of aspiration does not work," Darnell said.
"But this has a very compelling concept."
Fox's reality efforts have been on roll this past year. Although top
series "American Idol" has suffered recent ratings erosion, freshman
show "The Moment of Truth" was the season's top-rated new series and
veteran summer program "Hell's Kitchen" has enjoyed record-setting
viewership by running in-season.
Yet with "Secret Millionaire" helping the poor and Fox's recent
reality pilot "Bad Dads" tracking down deadbeat parents, the network's
oft-notorious reality efforts have recently taken a surprisingly
"This show is one of my last few shots at redemption," said Darnell,
whose hits include "Joe Millionaire" and "Temptation Island."
Joking aside, Darnell advised not to read anything into his recent
feel-good picks. Like "Truth," Darnell said, "Secret Millionaire" is
simply good business.
"There's no method to the madness," Darnell said. "I purchase whatever
I think will work."
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