Wednesday, February 19, 2003
Tyson reality TV show may be on tap
By Darren Rovell ESPN.com
Reality might bite.
A reality show featuring Mike Tyson could be announced in the coming weeks, according to a Hollywood TV show producer who says he's been having substantive negotiations with a major television network.
Stu Schreiberg, executive producer at Triage Entertainment, declined to comment on the specific network involved, but did say that over the last month the show's format has been finalized and, after surveying the TV landscape for interest, the suitor list is down to one network.
It's been about a year since Schreiberg's company thought about bringing Tyson to what has emerged as the most popular genre of television today. He then brought the idea to Tyson's manager Shelly Finkel, who confirmed last month that they were pursuing a deal. Fox spokesman Scott Grogin said the network was not interested, while an ABC spokesperson would not comment. Calls to CBS and NBC were not returned.
Schreiberg wouldn't give specifics about the format to the show, only to say it would be "Rocky-esque, with good dramatic story telling of characters over many weeks that eventually builds to a live event." Published reports last month speculated that the plot involves an average man going through training before getting into the ring for a true test against Tyson.
"Mike is one of the few people in sports that transcends the sports pages," said Schreiberg, whose company produced the "Victoria's Secret Fashion Show" on CBS last year. "With 500 channels, you have to have that name that just cuts through the clutter." Tyson has appeared in the top four most-watched pay-per-view fights in television history.
In an ESPNEWS poll conducted on Wednesday, many readers voted that Tyson's next career move after Saturday's fight in Memphis should be in a reality television show, instead of retiring, fighting Lennox Lewis or opening a tattoo parlor. But one industry insider isn't completely convinced that Tyson will draw in this format.
"I'm not sure Tyson has true mass appeal," said Tom DeCabia, executive vice president of PHD USA, a media buying firm. "He's not going to bring in the women and I'm not sure he'll get the hard-core boxing fans either."
DeCabia also said he would need to see more than a show outline before advocating that a client advertise during commercial breaks for the Tyson show.
"Given his history, I'd first have to make sure everything would be pulled off and, if he is going to fight someone, I'd probably ask to see what the guy looks like," DeCabia said. "Because if an audience determines from the beginning that he has no chance to beat him, they're more likely to tune out."
There's plenty of competition for viewership as more guaranteed eyeballs usually mean higher advertising rates. The finale of "Joe Millionaire" on Fox on Monday attracted 40 million viewers, which not only made it the most watched show for any network this season, but the most watched show in the network's 16-year history. The average audience for the new "American Idol" shows on Wednesday night is 24.6 million, while "The Bachelorette" -- whose two-hour finale is Wednesday night -- is averaging 15.5 million viewers.
Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.