Unless you've been living under The Rock — er, a rock — you've seen the flashy ads for NBC's Next Action Star (Tuesdays at 8 pm/ET). In the Peacock's latest reality-TV offering, 14 aspiring Jean-Claude Van Dammes and Linda Hamiltons vie to star in an upcoming made-for-TV movie. Over the course of the series, these masochistic hopefuls are schooled in the basics of stunt work. That means daily acting and combat lessons, as well as race-car driving and wire work. Each week's episode will culminate in a "screen test," eliminating one male and one female until only one competitor of each sex remains.
If you're picturing American Idol, Commando-style, you're not entirely off base. The show's backed by prolific producer Joel Silver, the man behind such action smashes as Predator, Die Hard, Lethal Weapon and The Matrix. Reality TV and this movie mogul may seem an unlikely mix, but Silver happens to be a big fan of the genre.
"How could you not love reality TV?" Silver enthuses. "That show last summer, Paradise Hotel, I couldn't believe it. I thought I was going to read in the paper that somebody got killed down there! It's just wild to watch this stuff. It's as exciting to see that as it is to see Alias and 24. It's just completely insane!"
Silver doesn't see reality going away any time soon, so he's kept an eye on the networks' latest ventures. "I like to see what's going on," he says. "I think that Swan show is wild. As long as they come up with new ideas for things, it's not going to become a dead concept."
As for Next Action Star, Silver hopes viewers will tune in to watch the contestants cultivate their skills as stunt people — not only to see them in stupid, dangerous situations à la Fear Factor. "We're just staging the danger," Silver explains. "Nobody's supposed to get hurt. You think it's dangerous but it's all done with wires and digital effects. We're teaching [the contestants] how to play a role. Most of these [other] shows are not trying to teach people how to be actors or do stunts — and have it look real and not be real."