In Depth

ABC, CBS Go for Reality

Dating, Workplace Series Orders Aim to Refresh Genre

ABC is about to find out if love is blind, while CBS is unleashing an “Undercover Boss.”
In the latest batch of reality pickups at the broadcast networks, ABC has greenlit production on “Dating in the Dark,” a relationship-based reality show in which participants go through all the usual mating rituals without ever actually setting eyes on each other.

Reality powerhouse Endemol USA is producing the show with Talpa Content USA, the company headed by “Big Brother” creator Jon de Mol. ABC has ordered six episodes of “Dating,” which is already in production, people familiar with the project said.

ABC and Endemol North America Chairman David Goldberg declined to comment.
However, “Dating” is based on a Talpa format called “Blind Love,” which puts three single men and three single women together in a house. The participants have been scientifically matched for compatibility.

During the course of several days, the six people interact with each other, taking part in various dating activities. The catch is that everything takes place in complete darkness; producers use night-vision technology to capture the action.

At the end of each episode, participants are given a chance to see what they all look like in the light. They then decide whether to move forward with their budding relationships.
It’s unclear how many changes Endemol and ABC have made to transform Talpa’s “Blind Love” format into “Dating in the Dark.”

Unlike most primetime dating shows—including ABC’s long-running “The Bachelor”—“Dating in the Dark” will feature self-contained episodes rather than serialized storylines.

ABC quietly ordered a pilot for “Dating” last year. The original version of the format has already aired in the Netherlands, where Mr. de Mol is based.

Mr. Goldberg and Mr. de Mol are expected to serve as executive producers of the new series.
As for CBS, it has given the go-ahead to “Undercover Boss,” a hidden-camera show in which an executive at a major corporation goes undercover at his or her own company.

Disguised to be unrecognizable to employees, the boss works alongside his staffers in order to get an unfiltered look at the people and systems that make his company work, people familiar with the show said.

The format has echoes of Fox’s holiday hit “Secret Millionaire.”

“Boss” is one of the first big pilots sold by the year-old Studio Lambert, the company launched by former RDF chief Stephen Lambert. Studio Lambert is part of U.K.-based All3Media.
Its U.S. arm is run by former Miramax TV executive Eli Holzman.