Television producer Mark Burnett and Steven Spielberg search for the next great filmmaker in Fox's new show,

April 11th, 2006

THE SKINNY: Reality show junkies will likely have a new catchphrase this fall when ON THE LOT premieres on the FOX network.

Mark Burnett,, Steven Spielberg, DreamWorks Television and FOX combine forces for a two night a week competition called ON THE LOT which will search for the next great filmmaker.

“All through my career I've done what I can to discover new talent and give them a start” says Spielberg. “This opportunity with Mark Burnett, DreamWorks and FOX allows all of us to reach out directly to open a much wider door.”

Aspiring director/filmmakers from across the country will vie for the opportunity of a lifetime as contestants create short films for an hour “Film Premiere” episode, followed the next night by a half-hour “Box Office” results show. Ultimately, one filmmaker will rise above the rest and will be rewarded with a studio development deal at DreamWorks.

“For me, like any person who wants to be a filmmaker, the opportunity to work hand in hand with Steven Spielberg is a dream come true,” says Burnett. “With the help of our partners at FOX, Peter Liguori and reality maestro Mike Darnell, we're going to make an incredible show about looking for the next great filmmaker by mining the growing segment of the public making their own content, and giving them the chance of a lifetime.”

After a nationwide search, applicants will be winnowed to a group of 16 undiscovered talents. The finalists will be brought to Hollywood, where they will be divided into several teams and will begin the hopeful journey toward their “big break.” As the competition begins, each team will produce a short film from that week's genre, running the gamut from comedies to thrillers, personal dramas to romance, sci-fi to horror. With one member selected as the team's director and other members helping produce, they'll have access to the best resources the industry has to offer. A pool of professional writers, cast and crew will be made available, and if the contestants are resourceful enough, they may even be able to land Hollywood celebrities to star in their films. With the clock ticking, however, and other teams working with the same genre, premise or unique challenge, they'll all need to match their vision with decisiveness, execution and flexibility.

Each week, after the teams have battled time frames, budgets and all the usual chaos that goes along with filmmaking, their films will be shown and critiqued in front of a live audience during the “Film Premiere” episode. Judges will include a high-ranking motion picture executive, a prominent film critic and a succession of well-respected guest judges, such as directors who are experts in the week's featured genre. But they'll also be subjected to perhaps the harshest judge of all … the public.

“When you have the opportunity to work with people like Mark Burnett and Steven Spielberg, artists who've redefined this business, you jump at the chance,” says Peter Liguori, President of Entertainment for FOX. He added, “In this age of digital cameras, cell phones with cameras and the Internet – with hundreds of thousands of people creating their own movies at home every day – the concept of this series is completely relevant, tapping into a cultural phenomenon as it happens.”

It will be FOX viewers whose votes ultimately determine which film should be left on the cutting-room floor. But, just as in Hollywood, where the director's work and vision have an enormous impact on the success or failure of a film, not all team members will pay the price. On the next night's “Box Office” results show, only the director of the losing feature will be sent home, leaving that team with fewer contestants to help produce the next week's film.

As the competition continues and directors are eliminated, eventually the remaining filmmakers will have to work individually, creating a new short film every week until only the most talented individual is anointed the winner, whisked away to the DreamWorks studio, met by Steven Spielberg and shown a new office … ON THE LOT.

“Movie-making is completely relatable to the American public,” adds Mike Darnell, EVP Alternative Programming and Specials for FOX. “Everyone enjoys going to the movies, reading about the movies and learning about the movies. Most Americans consider themselves amateur film critics and this will give viewers the opportunity to create the next big filmmaker.”

I guess it's a bit obvious, but iF puts money down that after each person is eliminated, they will be told some variation of, “now will you please escort him/her… off the lot.”

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