NBC PUNCHES IN JANUARY FOR PREMIERE OF 'THE CONTENDER' -- NEW UNSCRIPTED SERIES SEARCHING FOR NEXT BOXING SUPERSTAR -- FROM SYLVESTER STALLONE, MARK BURNETT AND JEFFREY KATZENBERG
BURBANK, Calif. -- October 5, 2004 -- NBC has announced that its much-anticipated "The Contender" -- the new unscripted series about the search for the next boxing superstar from Oscar nominee Sylvester Stallone, Mark Burnett (NBC's "The Apprentice," "Survivor") and Jeffrey Katzenberg of DreamWorks SKG - will premiere in January 2005.
A specific date and time will be announced later.
The announcement was made by Kevin Reilly, President, NBC Entertainment, who said: "We are excited and truly inspired from what we have seen so far from 'The Contender, ' the characters are emotionally riveting and the film-like quality elevates this show to the highest levels of quality. As a result, we look forward to positioning this classic American success story on a proper platform in January apart from the distractions of the Fall. We have an all-star team of producers at the top -- and like the show's ultimate winner, we believe we have a champion series."
Said Burnett: "Having just completed principal photography we could not be more pleased with the quality of our show and we now look forward to America getting to know and love these amazing fighters through each of their personal stories. Together with Sylvester Stallone, Dreamworks and the original scores of Hans Zimmer, this show will bridge the gap between feature film and unscripted television dramas. "
Said Katzenberg: "Everyone connected to this series has felt a rush of adrenaline in the struggle to see one champion emerge victorious. We can't wait until America gets its chance to see the emotional challenges faced by our contenders as their quest to be number one begins in January."
"It has long been our dream to bring boxing back to primetime television and this show is the realization of this goal, said co-executive producer Jeff Wald. I couldn't have asked for better partners in this great endeavor than Mark, Jeffrey, Sly and Ray."
As previously announced, NBC is working with Stallone ("Rocky"), executive producer Burnett and Katzenberg, Co-Principal, DreamWorks SKG, in the series that will follow 16 aspiring boxers as they come to a training camp to follow their dream of becoming a champion boxer.
The driving force behind the series will be the pursuit of the American dream and the natural trials, tribulations and heartbreak inherent in that effort. The canvas of the show gives viewers a first hand look into the real life hopes, triumphs and defeats of the contestants and how this single-minded, consuming commitment affects their families.
Stallone and international sports legend Sugar Ray Leonard will serve as both hosts and boxing mentors to this group of fighters as they each try to improve their skills in order rise to the rank of professional boxers.
"The Contender" is a joint production between Mark Burnett Productions, DreamWorks Television and Rogue Marble. Stallone, Burnett and Katzenberg are the executive producers.