EXCLUSIVE: CBS in entering the talent competition arena with a series pickup for The World’s Best. It hails from reality TV heavyweights Mark Burnett and Mike Darnell, the forces behind two of the biggest talent competition reality series of the current unscripted wave, The Voice and American Idol. Burnett is executive producing NBC’s The Voice, which is overseen by Darnell at Warner Horizon, while, in his role as head of reality at Fox, Darnell developed and launched American Idol and steered the show for its first 12 seasons.
The World’s Best, which had been in the works for awhile, is described as a first-of-its-kind global talent competition that features acts from every genre imaginable, from every corner of the planet. They not only have to impress American judges, but will also need to break through the “wall of the world,” featuring 50 of the world’s most accomplished experts from every field of entertainment. The winning act will ultimately be crowned The World’s Best.
“This is a unique, original format with global scale led by two of the most accomplished producers on television,” said Sharon Vuong, CBS’ SVP, Alternative Programming. “Mike and Mark are not only the very top producers in the genre, but they also understand how to create compelling competition and build enduring franchises.”
CBS, which found early reality success with adventure competition series Survivor and The Amazing Race as well as the voyeuristic Big Brother, has largely stayed away from the shiny floor/talent competition genre. Notably, its biggest previous effort in the arena, Rock Star, which ran for two seasons, came from Burnett, who also serves as president of MGM Television and Digital Group.
“The time has come to take talent competition shows to the next level and bring in judges from around the world to decide on the ultimate winner,” said Burnett. “It’s like the Olympics for entertainment, but you don’t have to wait every two years.”
Since Darnell joined Warner Bros. as president of Unscripted and Alternative Television in 2013, he has set up a string of new series at NBC, including hits Little Big Shots and new breakout Ellen’s Game Of Games; at Fox, including the Love Connection reboot, which is coming back for a second season; and at ABC, including game show 500 Questions, also a collaboration with Burnett.
Because CBS’ veteran unscripted series, Survivor, The Amazing Race, Big Brother, subsequently joined by Undercover Boss, all are still going strong, the network has had very little shelf space available for new unscripted fare, with very few new reality series ordered in the past few years, including Hunted and Ambulance. Because of the fact that CBS takes so few shots in reality, it is a challenge to get a show on. It had been a goal for Darnell, which he has now accomplished.
“The World’s Best is a new talent competition captured on a scale rarely seen on television,” he said. “This will be the first and only series where talent from all over the globe takes the stage in front of three American judges and 50 world experts. It’s exhilarating to embark on this game-changing event with CBS, Mark Burnett and our terrific team here at Warner Horizon.”
Warner Horizon is retaining the format rights to The World’s Best to sell internationally, in partnership with MGM.
In addition to ABC’s 500 Questions, Burnett and Darnell previously worked together on the game show Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? which Burnett co-created and executive produced and Darnell shepherded at Fox.
The World’s Best is produced by MGM Television and Warner Horizon Unscripted & Alternative Television. Mark Burnett, Mike Darnell, Alison Holloway, Brooke Karzen, Barry Poznick and Dan Sacks are executive producers.