Studio Lambert Scores E! Reunion Reality Series As ‘The Circle’ Producer Continues U.S. Push

The Circle
The Circle Netflix

E! has ordered a four-part series that brings some of the most celebrated TV casts back together on a roadtrip.

The casts of All My Children, Scrubs, A Different World and Queer Eye For The Straight Guy are getting back together for Reunion Road Trip to reminisce and share surprising revelations about their shows. The series launches on June 10.

It is the latest U.S. order for Studio Lambert, the All3Media-backed producer behind series such as Netflix’s The Circle and CBS’ Undercover Boss.

The company’s U.S. division is led by EVP, Development and Current Jack Burgess.

Burgess and Studio Lambert have had a busy year, despite the pandemic. Right at the start of the pandemic, they scored an order for Celebrity Watch Party from Fox. The show, which is based on the company’s hit UK format Gogglebox, premiered on May 7 and was turned around in 21 days.

Burgess (left) told Deadline that getting that show under their belts meant nothing felt that scary in comparison.

The latest season of its U.S. version of social experiment The Circle – which is similarly based on a Channel 4 format – just ended this week on Netflix. The 13-episode run was scheduled in four three four-part blocks with the finale coming a week after the last block.

Burgess said one of the most interesting things about working with the streamers is “figuring out the cadence”. He added that the main difference between the U.S. and UK versions is that in the UK, contributors go in and let everything happen around them, whereas in the U.S. they go in with a plan. This was evidenced [SPOILER ALERT] by the fact that Brit Chloe Veitch, star of Netflix’s Too Hot To Handle, was narrowly beaten by catfisher Deleesa Carrasquillo, playing as Trevor.

A third season of The Circle is coming after Netflix handed it a two season order.

The company is also in production on season 11 of Undercover Boss for CBS. The show has been running since 2010. “When it was first made in 2010, it was on the back of the recession and felt like a really important show,” said Burgess. “The thing that unscripted does best is reflect what’s going on in the world, so making that show this year has been really [interesting] because it is a really different landscape, we’re figuring out with the businesses how they’re adapting.”

Its ABC gameshow The Hustler, created by British TV personality Richard Bacon and starring Craig Ferguson, also scored a second season that will launch this summer.

Christopher Willard/ABC

The show follows five contestants as they collaborate to answer a series of 10 trivia questions worth $10,000 each, with the goal of building a collective prize pot that increases with each correct answer but there’s a twist. ABC reality chief Rob Mills recently told Deadline that given that the network is known for reboots, it was “really exciting that Stephen Lambert came in with something that felt kind of wholly original and something that we could make new and make work”.

Burgess added, “It’s hard to launch a new gameshow and it doesn’t look or feel like other studio gameshows.”

The company is known for social experiments, whether that’s The Circle or Undercover Boss, and it’s a genre that it will continue to develop in, particularly given the interest from buyers. “We’ve got some big social experiments in development, that’s the thing that people want from us, but we’ve also got some brilliant pieces of talent that we’re working on ideas with, some gameshow ideas. That mix is one of the reasons I came to work in the States,” Burgess added.

The company will be helped by the fact that LA is starting to open up. Burgess said that he’s looking forward to getting back to pitching in person because “big unscripted ideas are like flames and if someone is on their phone, it’s so easy to dismiss them”. He will also likely be joined soon by Stephen Lambert, who is known for his trips to LA, bouncing around town and pitching networks and streamers.

“Non-scripted is as popular as it’s ever been and the brilliant advantage is that we can move quickly and we can reflect what’s going on in the world,” he said. “It feels like there’s more places to sell than ever before and everybody is really open to unscripted. Broadcast networks, streamers, even the cable world still hungry for content.”

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