[FPSPACE] "Survivor" Show on Mir
Wed, 9 Aug 2000 11:36:47 EDT
Start countdown to 'Survivor' in space, aboard Mir Aug. 9, 2000
By Gary Levin, Gannett News Service
'Survivor' producer Mark Burnett's latest project is out of this world.
If exiling 16 strangers to an island wasn't audacious enough, an upcoming
show will blast its
winner into outer space with two Russian cosmonauts.
"The winner of our show would orbit the Earth over 20 times before linking up
with the Mir
space station," Burnett says. "It's a 10-day trip."
'Destination Mir', being shopped to major networks, will chronicle 13 to 15
after rigorous physical and psychological screening, who are sent to the
Russian space training
camp in Star City to prepare for the mission.
In each weekly episode, two teams of Russian space officials conducting the
eliminate one would-be amateur cosmonaut.
The contestant with the right stuff will be launched in a Soyuz rocket on the
final episode, to be
broadcast live, and his progress will be chronicled with follow-up specials
ending with the
splashdown. Burnett aims to air the series in fall 2001.
Unlike 'Survivor', the contestants won't oust rivals. The mission is "all
about teamwork" and
physical and mental agility, Burnett says. "We can't have someone who's going
to freak out."
After NASA rejected his proposal, citing its stance against privatization of
the U.S. space
program, Burnett signed a deal with Russia's MirCorp, 40% owned by American
the rest controlled by Energia, a NASA equivalent jointly held by the Russian
MirCorp will conduct the mission and training program for a $20 million fee,
to be paid by the
network that wins broadcast rights. Overseas networks will air the show
Dennis Tito, 59, a rocket scientist-turned-millionaire money manager, will
pay $20 million to be
sent into space in June as the first civilian to visit Mir.
As a prelude to the new series, Burnett will produce a documentary on Tito's
mission. But the
contest aspect of the Destination mission promises to make it a news event
far beyond which
torch is snuffed out on 'Survivor'.
"The real goal is to make space accessible to ordinary citizens," says
Chirinjeev Kathuria, a
Chicago-based investor in Mir. "Our idea is to take the average person who
could never go to
space, whether it's a janitor, housewife or an executive, and give them the
Burnett also is busy with other projects. He has just completed the
'Survivor' finale, due Aug. 23.
He's preparing 'Survivor 2' in the Australian outback, to begin filming in
October. And he leaves
today for Borneo, where he'll produce an Eco-Challenge competition for the
USA cable network.