A&E’s on a Strange ‘Safari’

Sep 20, 2004  •  Post A Comment

A&E is developing a reality series called “Human Safari” that parodies classic nature documentaries, sources said. The half-hour comedy targets a different human “subculture” each week-gold-diggers, male models, cheerleaders and so forth-then sends an intrepid host to observe and comment on them “in their natural habitat.”

British actor Jim Piddock (“Best in Show,” “A Mighty Wind”) hosted a pilot episode ordered by the network. J.B. Sugar (“WinTuition”) and Artur Spigel will executive produce.

An A&E spokesperson confirmed the pilot order but declined further comment.

The format will be similar to 1980s nature documentaries, with Mr. Piddock filling the role of a straight-faced David Attenborough-style host.

“Everyone goes through the process of analyzing and categorizing people and [viewers] can learn about that,” Mr. Spigel said. “We also felt like reality television was getting kind of formulaic and we wondered how to put a scripted twist on reality. We call this a hybrid-comedy-wildlife-documentary series.”

Max Stubblefield, the Don Buchwald and Associates agent who brokered the deal, said A&E seemed like a good match for the concept.

“We thought A&E would be a perfect fit since there’s an aspect to this show that’s a little more sophisticated than the average `Surreal Life’ reality show,” Mr. Stubblefield said.

If given a full rollout, the series would fit right in with A&E’s recent attempts to reduce its median viewership age through reality programming. “Airline,” “Dog,” “Family Plots,” “First 48” and “Growing Up Gotti” have given the traditionally stuffy network some fresh air and boosted its profile; among 25- to 54-year-old viewers, A&E is up 23 percent this summer.

Listed below are other A&E reality projects in development.

w-“Caesars,” a behind-the-scenes look at the Las Vegas casino Caesars Palace. The network has ordered 13 episodes, which are currently being shot.

w “Mondo Magic,” a reality series following the lives of a veteran magician and a young rival. Six episodes were filmed and the series debuts in early October.

w-“Intervention,” a look at real-life interventions by friends and family trying to help an out-of-control loved one. The show is now in production on 13 episodes.