EXCLUSIVE: Rob Lowe is taking his giant robotic arm Ava for another spin after Fox renewed reality competition series Mental Samurai for a second season. Casting is underway now and Season 2 will premiere on April 22.
Rob Wade, Fox’s president of alternative entertainment and specials, said Mental Samurai is a “one-of-a-kind show that brilliantly marries intellect and physicality.” The A. Smith & Co. Productions, Warner Horizon Unscripted Television and Apploff Entertainment-produced show will return after Fox examined its ratings in the context of how similar shows performed last year.
“When the show launched, we looked at the ratings and they were OK; it didn’t overperform, but we were proud of what we did,” Wade told Deadline at TCA last year. “As summer came and we saw how shows performed on all networks, it was obvious that actually, the [Mental Samurai] ratings were pretty solid.”
Mental Samurai is billed as an “obstacle course for the mind,” with contestants completing knowledge, memory, puzzles and sequencing challenges, all while being strapped into a specially designed robot, named Ava, which is capable of rotating 360 degrees at high speed.
Arthur Smith, Mike Darnell, Jeff Apploff, Noah Bonnett and Brooke Karzen serve as executive producers, while Lowe is a producer. The show was conceived by Smith and Darnell.
In addition to the Fox renewal, Warner Bros. International Television Production has built an exact replica of the Mental Samurai studio in Madrid, Spain, which will act as a production hub for international broadcasters to make the show. The format is already in other territories including Portugal, where TVI has commissioned two seasons.
“We bought one [Ava] so we could do the show in America — as soon as we were done shooting, the international division decided to make a hub to make it less expensive for some of our international partners,” said Darnell, Warner’s president of unscripted and alternative television.
He told Deadline that Lowe would be interested in presenting international versions of the show. “Rob has told me, any English speaking — and maybe even non-English speaking countries — he will absolutely come and do the show,” Darnell explained. Lowe is repped by WME, Brillstein Entertainment and Latham & Watkins.
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