Reality TV may be the hottest trend on network prime time, but scripted programming is where producers get respect. With that in mind, reality producer Mark Burnett, best known for CBS's reality hit Survivor, last week signed an exclusive two-year deal with Warner Bros. Television to make the leap from reality to scripted.
"Mark's success and storytelling ability in the reality television genre is unparalleled," said Peter Roth, president of Warner Bros. Television. "We believe he will create equally compelling and innovative scripted programming."
Burnett has tried at least once before to enter the scripted arena with a pilot he produced for The WB in association with Carsey-Werner called Are We There Yet?
The WB ordered a pilot and three scripts but declined this season to pick up the show, a sort of TV rendition of National Lampoon's European Vacation.
"I am excited about the partnership with Peter Roth and his very gifted team of executives, who are now my teammates as I cross over the the scripted side of programming," Burnett said.
Conrad Riggs, Burnett's producing partner, will continue to work with Burnett on development of scripted shows as well as on oversight of all of Burnett's reality projects. Besides producing CBS's Survivor, Burnett also produced NBC's The Restaurant
and The WB's Boarding House: North Shore
this summer. He is in pre-production on NBC's The Apprentice, hosted by real estate tycoon Donald Trump, for January.
Burnett has been nominated for 14 Emmys, and won for Survivor
and Discovery's Eco-Challenge,
the shows where Burnett cut his teeth. He's also won the People's Choice Award three years in a row for Survivor
as favorite reality show. Burnett and Riggs are represented by CAA.