Fifteen years after Who Wants To Be A Millionaire ushered the new golden age of reality television on the broadcast networks, ABC is returning to the quiz show genre with a new series from top unscripted producer Mark Burnett and Warner Bros. Unscripted TV President Mike Darnell. ABC has given a straight-to-series order to 500 Questions (working title) to air in 2015. It is the brainchild of Barnett and Darnell, who previously worked together on hit quiz show Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader, which Burnett co-created and executive produced for Fox’s unscripted division headed by Darnell. “Mark and I have done many shows together over the years, but one of our best experiences (both professionally and personally) was Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?, and ever since, we have been trying to come up with another game show that would break new ground,” Darnell said. “I think we have finally cracked it with ‘500 Questions,’ and with Mark and his team on board, I have no doubt this is going to be the next international game show hit.”
500 Questions, which marks the first big network reality series order for Warner Bros. TV since Darnell joined the studio in summer 2013, is described as a “genius game show.” The producers are not giving out many details but the show will be testing contestants’ knowledge with a series of questions, with those who are winning being able to move from one episode to the next until they answer correctly all 500 questions. “I love this show,” Burnett said. “It is the first network game show to combine what audiences love about serialized unscripted hits with a huge game show event. It has ongoing characters and huge stakes.” The order for 500 Questions expands Burnett’s relationship with ABC where he executive produces the hit Shark Tank. Additionally, Burnett is collaborating with Warner Bros. on NBC’s successful singing competition The Voice, which he also exec produces. One of the first sales for Darnell at Warner Bros. was to ABC, which ordered a pilot for a haunted house project executive produced by Jason Blum. The network took a big reality swing this summer with live singing competition Rising Star, which didn’t do well and is not expected to return.
Burnett also executive produces Survivor and Celebrity Apprentice. He and wife Roma Downey have upcoming NBC event series A.D: Beyond the Bible, a follow-up to the duo’s hugely successful Bible miniseries, and miniseries The Dovekeepers at CBS.