Fox's dark prince of reality TV, Mike Darnell, is dusting off a few of his old tricks. The network has ordered new summer dating game show The Choice, which uses spinning chairs reminiscent of NBC's The Voice and applies it to romance — with celebrities thrown in for good measure.
Hosted by Cat Deeley, The Choice, which debuts Thursday, June 7 at 9/8c, is a mash-up of The Voice and The Dating Game. Four single celebrities (to be announced later) will sit in rotating chairs in front of a live studio audience, with their backs to a bunch of singles. The suitors can describe their life, their interests and their turn-ons — but the celebrities can only rely on their voice and their answers.
If the celebrity likes what he hears, he can pull his "love handle" — yes, Fox is really calling it that — and spin his chair around to see his potential mate face-to-face. In another caveat reminiscent of The Voice, if two celebs pull their love handle at the same time (wait until the content crusader groups get a load of that), it's the single who gets to choose which celebrity they want to hang with.
Each celebrity bachelor will eventually pick three women — which is when teams enter a "Speed Choice" round, and contestants must convince her celeb why she should be in the final round.
Two contestants per celeb are left for the final round, in which they'll be asked to answer a question. The celebrities then have to choose whom they're taking out on a date. For the show's inaugural six-episode run, 20 celebrity bachelors (from the world of sports, music, reality TV and TV) were chosen. Women celebs were harder to cast, which is why just one episode will feature famous bachelorettes.
"This seemed like the perfect way to do it," Darnell says of the spinning chairs gimmick. "The chairs are so part and parcel of what makes it work. It's perfect for a dating show." Darnell says he's been looking to do a show for years in which celebrities date regular people, but found it difficult to get enough celebs to commit to several weeks of a show like Paradise Hotel. On The Choice, the commitment is just one day — they shoot the show, and go out on the date that night.
The Choice is reminiscent of a time in the early 2000s when Fox alternative president Darnell would tweak the competition by taking on their hit reality shows with a bit of a twist. Joe Millionaire, for example, was a cheeky response to ABC's The Bachelor, while Temptation Island was a sexy version of Survivor.
Deeley, who also hosts Fox's So You Think You Can Dance, will pull double duty this summer as host of The Choice. A. Smith & Co. (Hell's Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares) is the production company. The Choice will be paired with Fox's new George Lopez-hosted Take Me Out, which also debuts June 7 at 8/7c, for a night of dating shows.