Fremantle Snags Feel-Good Format


FremantleMedia, the reality format powerhouse behind American Idol, has bought the rights to Fata Morgana. No, that's not a Morgan Fairchild inversion (thin to fat) of a Kirstie Allie makeover show, but instead a hit Flemish feel-good reality series that could well make it to the U.S.

The series features a small town that has a week to complete a "seemingly impossible" task set for its residents by a "well-known national celebrity."
Tasks on the Belgian series, which debuted in 2004, have included turning one town into a winter village, complete with snow-covered mountain and ski-lift. Another was to design a fashion line, find models to model them, then build the world's longest catwalk.

FremantleMedia has bought worldwide rights to the show's format, which has become an Idol-like smash in its home country (think 50% share), and the company  ready to translate it to other markets. "This is exactly the kind of positive programming that FremantleMedia is keen to produce," says Rob Clark, Senior VP, production, worldwide entertainment, for FremantelMedia. "We believe there is definitely an appetite for this type of socially empowering programming.”

FremantleMedia is certainly not alone. Shows about empowerment and transformation--Extreme Makeover,Nanny 911, et. al.) have become a hot commodity in the reality space, even up to including whole towns in the process.

NBC this fall will debut Three Wishes, an hour reality show in which born again country singer Amy Grant leads a team to small towns across America to “transform hopes into a life-changing reality,” says the network.