Fox Revives Workplace Layoff TV Show
Three years ago, Fox picked up the reality show Someone's Gotta Go, in which employees of a real-life struggling company would vote on which one of them should be laid off. Needless to say, the concept attracted a lot of attention, but the show never ran.
After going back to the drawing board, Fox and producer Endemol USA rejiggered the format. As a result, Fox is in final negotiations to order four episodes of a reworked version -- now called Does Someone Have to Go?
In this revamped version, the show is no longer based on economically troubled companies, but instead will go inside dysfunctional offices. Employees will still decide who should be let go — but in another major change, they don't have to fire someone if they don't want to. Fox plans to air Does Someone Have to Go? some time this season, but there's no airdate yet.
The concept for the original Someone's Gotta Go came about after Fox alternative programming president Mike Darnell caught a TV news report about a struggling business owner who decided to disclose to her employees what they all earned. Those employees all discussed who was earning too much and how to cut costs.
Does Someone Have to Go? will keep some of the same elements of Someone's Gotta Go, which went into production before later being shelved. The original version was shot in businesses about the size of the Dunder Mifflin team on The Office, and even shot in a documentary style similar to that comedy. Employees had a chance to learn what everyone makes and read everyone's human resources files; they also got to confess how they really feel about their colleagues.
Employees then voted on who should be terminated — and the worker who got the ax was given a small severance. A business coach/employment consultant helped the office and doubled as series host.
The idea of allowing employees to pink slip one of their colleagues seems wrought with legal ramifications. But when the original show came about in 2009, Fox and Endemol USA said they took pains to consult with labor attorneys, and also tapped an employment expert and business consultant to work with the show.
"It's Survivor meets The Office," Darnell told Daily Variety in 2009. "When someone is arbitrarily let go the first reaction usually is 'How come that person was fired when another idiot is still here?' This finally gives employees a chance to make that decision instead of a boss."