ABC Orders Game Show ‘500 Questions’

Series reunites producers Burnett, Darnell
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ABC has ordered primetime game show 500 Questions from producer Mark Burnett’s One Three Media and Warner Horizon Television, the network announced Thursday. The show was conceived by Burnett and Warner Bros. unscripted and alternative television president Mike Darnell. It is scheduled to premiere in 2015.

Details on the show’s format were not revealed, though the network promised in its announcement that it will test “the smarts — and nerve — of contestants in a pressure-packed, incredibly intense environment.”

“[500 Questions] is the first network game show to combine what audiences love about serialized unscripted hits with a huge game show event,” Burnett said. “It has ongoing characters and huge stakes.”

Burnett, who produces Shark Tank for ABC, and Darnell last collaborated on Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? which aired on Fox during Darnell’s time there as unscripted chief. Darnell joined Warner Bros. in July, 2013, one month after leaving Fox, where he had overseen the launch of American Idol in 2002.

“I couldn’t be more excited to be back in business with my close friend and colleague Mark Burnett,” said Darnell. “We have done many shows together over the years, but one of our best experiences (both professionally and personally) was Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?, and ever since, we have been trying to come up with another game show that would break new ground. I think we have finally cracked it with 500 Questions.”

ABC has made several recent attempts to launch a new unscripted franchise, finding little success. This summer it premiered music competition Rising Star, which drew a 1.0 Nielsen live-plus same day rating among adults 18-49 for its finale Aug. 24, and fantasy-reality hybrid The Quest, whose finale drew a 0.5 Sept. 11. Neither series has yet been renewed.

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