LOS ANGELES – Sony Pictures Television is shooting into uncharted territory with a new competition reality series entitled “Milky Way Mission,” which plans to send stars into space.
Dutch-based broadcaster Nederland 1 has given the green light for an eight-episode season, created by Tuvalu Media and Simpel Media in conjunction with the Space Expedition Corporation (SXC). The original series will presumably be comprised of 10 Dutch celebrities who will have to endure an intense Bootcamp-type astronaut training regime, along with punishing physical and mental challenges to avoid elimination and end up on a flight just out of earth's atmosphere and into space.
Sony will reportedly offer “Milky Way Mission” to international broadcasters in October, which means that if other nations pick up the format, they would likely put the casting call out for local big names.
“For years people have dreamt about the possibility of a show in space. [Sony Pictures Television] is now poised to make that dream real,” Wayne Garvie, CEO of international production at Sony Pictures Television said in a statement.
But word of the out-of-this-world the new concept spread, scores of people have made it clear how they want the potential U.S. version to be played out.
In the Twitterverse, one piped up: “Is it a one-way trip? Can we choose who?” as another tweeted “high ratings if they stay there.” Another observed: “I’d watch if they were allowed to stay there,” while others tweeted such things as “there are a lot of celebrities I’d like to launch into space. Politicians too,” and “the public should get to choose who goes into space.”
And over at news entertainment website Deadline.com, one reader exclaimed: “This is a terrific idea. I say we take all of the celebrities and launch them irretrievably into space!” another quipped “WOW! This is the best idea EVER! What? They’re going to bring them back? Never mind.” Another weighed in that they would “spend 30 bucks on pay per view to see Matt Damon launched into orbit from a cannon,” and another wrote: “Great spacey idea but what if the network pulls the plug? Will they be allowed to come back to earth?”
Yet despite the quips, according to reality television agent Alec Shankman, of L.A-based firm Kaplan Stahler, the series does have the potential to send ratings soaring sky high – or beyond.
“The Red Bull stunt where they filmed a guy (Felix Baumgartner) jumping out of space was one of the most fascinating moments in recent TV history and the ratings were enormous,” he said. “This concept will be an interesting way to follow up on the success of that one-off event and further tap into the human fascination with space (and celebrity).”
And although its likely plenty of A-list celebrities would be eager for such an opportunity, contractual red tape may turn the cast into more of the “I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!”caliber.
“Incidentally, many contracts that celebrities and athletes have with TV networks, sports teams, studios, and brands often prevent them from participating in potentially life threatening activities, of which flying to space is certainly one. So, it’s likely that even if certain celebs want to participate, they may be contractually prohibited,” Shankman explained. “However, I certainly believe that this will appeal to some big names.”
But Sony hasn’t won the reality space race just yet.
Mark Burnett, the creator of “The Voice,” “Survivor” and “The Bible,” is – according to Deadline – in the process of pitching another unscripted series about space, in which the grand prize a trip on Virgin Galatic’s SpaceShipTwo.