Here we go again! VH1 (who else?) has just greenlit Scream Queens, a reality show in which 10 unknown actresses desperate to be the next Jamie Lee Curtis or Janet Leigh will compete for a starring role in an upcoming “major” Lionsgate film. And boy are they excited — one Lionsgate rep tells THR that “discovering new talent is always exciting,” while another chimes in by teaching us that “VH1 has had a tremendous track record in launching alternative programming that captures viewers' imaginations.” Yes, yes it does! Our brains have been expanded by Viacom's ongoing carnival featuring women degrading themselves in hot tubs and music execs attempting to Make A Band, Any Band Will Do quarter after quarter. But with a reputable horror studio behind Scream Queens and the fact that scary movies have launched more than a few major careers, this one may put its You’re The One That I Want and It Factor predecessors to shame. We look back at five recent Next Big Thing reality shows in an effort to place our bets:
Show: On The Lot, 2007
Wizards: Steven Spielberg and Mark Burnett, producers. Carrie Fisher, Garry Marshall, and Brett Ratner, judges.
Fate: Lasting only one season, the extremely low-rated show pitted unknown directors against one another based on three-minute film submissions. Despite winner Will Bigham's "directing" aspirations, Will is currently and unsurprisingly pounding the pavement as a (still-unknown) actor.
Project Greenlight, 2001-05:
Network: HBO (two seasons), Bravo (one season)
Wizards: Alex Keledjian and Eli Holzman, creators. Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Chris Moore, producers, backed by Miramax Films and LivePlanet.
Fate: HBO dumped the series to Bravo after two seasons in which the winning screenwriters' films each grossed under $300k in national releases. Bravo's winning duo turned out the little-remembered horror movie (oops) Feast that, despite the best efforts of GULAGER, went quickly to limited release, and even more quickly to DVD.
Grease: You're The One That I Want, 2007
Wizards: BBC fashioned the US show after Andrew Lloyd Webber's successful format for casting Broadway unknowns in How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? in the UK. Billy Bush hosted.
Fate: As with so many series borrowed by the Brits, NBC's gamble followed in the footsteps of The Office and American Idol, turning out big ratings and even bigger interest (at first) on Broadway once the winning leads took the stage.
It Factor, 2002
Wizards: Nicole Torre, Alice Peck, producers.
Fate: Though the show lasted just two seasons, the documentary following actors trying to get their big break did turn out two working stars. Sure, one got a gig as a 7Up spokesman, but Michaela Conlin went on to become a regular on Bones.
Show:Fight For Fame, 2005
Wizards: Adam Lieblein and Greg Meyer, producers and Acme agents.
Fate: Another documentary-style program, featuring five wannabe actors competing for a deal with Acme, the show suffered due to a boring format (monologues began each episode) and predictably low interested in real-agents-as-stars. Had Ari Emanuel been in charge, it would have been another story. The SF Gate summarized the one-season snoozer by including it in a piece entitled "Some Shows So Bad You Can't Be Paid To Watch."