At NBC, Real World Grows Up


With Starting Over, NBC Enterprises is bringing to daytime the type of reality programming that has become popular in prime time. From the producers of MTV's Real World and Road Rules, Starting Over will select six or seven women to live together in a house and work on accomplishing important individual goals. When a woman manages that feat or when it's obvious that she is nowhere close to accomplishing anything, she will move out of the house and be replaced.

"A lot of women will tell you that there are decisions they have made or that were thrust on them that they wish they could change," said Jonathan Murray, the show's producer and co-head of Bunim/Murray Productions. "A lot of women would love the chance to start life over."

"It's an opportunity for these women to work on something they want to change. That might be getting out of a bad marriage, losing weight or developing a better relationship with their families," said Linda Finnell, senior vice president of programming and development of NBC Enterprises.

A counselor will live in the house with the women to "keep them on their marks and encourage them to set their goals," she said. The producers have not yet selected the counselor.

The first installment will likely take place in Chicago, Murray said. "We imagine we will have tons of women applying for this, so it has to take place in a big city where the possibilities are endless."

Murray hopes the new program will take over where shows like The Oprah Winfrey Show
leave off, following the women for an extended period of time.

"A lot of the fun of the show will be in the daily drama," Murray said. "Women don't walk away from conflict and they are much more interested in self-exploration than men are."

NBC hopes to sell the show into slots between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., because it's a "great lead-in or lead-out of soap operas," said Ed Wilson, president of NBC Enterprises. "You have that soap-opera type of story-telling there, in which women are talking openly and honestly about very intimate issues in their lives."

So far, the show is cleared on the NBC stations and on Hearst-Argyle's stations, reaching 50% of the country. Hearst-Argyle is a partner in NBC Enterprises.