November 30, 2011
by James Hibberd
Here are some details about Mark Burnett’s plan to team with preacher Joel Osteen for an ambitious reality show that brings missionary-style giving to primetime.
The working title for the project is Pack Your Bags. In each episode, the popular Houston megachurch pastor will lead volunteers to a surprise destination to try and make a difference in other people’s lives. For example: To put on a homecoming party for a group of soldiers returning from oversees to their hometown, or bringing holiday cheer to an elderly care home. “You get on plane, you don’t know where you’re going, you don’t know what you’re going to be doing,” Burnett says.
Burnett says our current economic climate makes this an ideal time to launch a show like Pack Your Bags. “America is the most giving nation on Earth,” says the British producer, who became an American citizen two decades ago. “One of the best ways to feel better is by doing something for somebody else.”
The Survivor producer points to the success of his NBC hit The Voice, which eschewed mocking contestants like American Idol and instead had a more supportive judging panel. “There has been a shift, I’m sure of it,” Burnett says. “People are genuinely hurting. The last thing the audience wants to see is people ripped apart.”