CBS has given that reality show about eight suburban families trapped behind massive prison-like walls in Kennesaw a name (”There Goes the Neighborhood”) and a launch date — August 9.
The show will air for seven weeks as the eight families vie for $250,000. This is less than CBS sister shows “Survivor” and “The Amazing Race” ($1 million each) and “Big Brother” ($500,000.)
During a press conference this morning, the show producers Jay Beinstock and Mike Fleiss (best known for creating “The Bachelor’), along with the host Matt Rogers (season three, “American Idol”) stood in the front yard of one of the homes. Beinstock said the families were off filming a challenge elsewhere so we were able to use that backdrop.
They revealed some small details on what life is like for the families, whose names have not been revealed yet. They have no Internet, no cel phones, no contact with the outside world. Some pets that could handle the cameras and such stayed. Others were kenneled or sent to friends. There is no electricity for cooking or for the TV though I think they do get lights. In this sweltering heat, they also get A/C. “We’re not THAT inhumane,” Fleiss said, half-jokingly.
The show took two to three weeks to build the 20-foot-plus walls, then started production June 15. Mayor Mark Mathews said set up was more disruptive to the neighborhood than the actual shoot, which is set to end July 4th weekend.
The point of the show is to force the families to spend time together so the kids can’t play video games, moms can’t go off to the hair stylist and dads can’t play golf with the buds. The families do suburban-style challenges (probably with props such as lawn mowers and barbecues) to win prizes and to avoid elimination. Ousted families leave the premises and stay sequestered in a hotel for the remainder of the shoot. There are no judges. The families vote each other off. Presumably, at the end, the six eliminated families decide which of the final two families get the $250,000. (This is a good recipe for ending friendships, eh?)
Besides “The Bachelor,” Fleiss has done numerous other reality shows including the upcoming “Bachelor for chubby folks” show “More to Love” on NBC, the current CW show “Hitched or Ditched” and the recent TV Land show “The Cougar.” He said the time to do post-production for this show will be the tightest he’s ever had to contend with. He already has folks working on the first four episodes now.
He also said this was the toughest show he’s ever had to cast because he had to fight families on continguous properties to agree to take three weeks off from their jobs. At least with a show such as TV Land’s “High School Reunion,” he could sub out the lead cheerleader with another cheerleader. In this case, he had very little flexibility.
But Fleiss said he’s thrilled with the diverse casting. He said there are plenty of charismatic characters and it helps the families already know each other well. He said there’s a single mom, an inter-racial couple and a lesbian couple. There are kids as young as six. (No infants, which would certainly have complicated shooting.)
“There Goes the Neighborhood,” which was originally called “Block Party,” will be on at 9 p.m. Sundays through Sept. 20.
I will also post a separate interview I did with host Matt Rogers for the “Idol” blog later this week. And you know I’ll be doing episode recaps of this show for sure.