I actually followed this pretty closely--it will be interesting to see if they can transition it to TV. Zsolt had some amazing visuals...
From the Futon Critic:AROUND THE WORLD FOR FREE TO AIR ON WGN AMERICA BEGINNING APRIL 16
45,000 miles, 159 days, 16 countries, 4 continents and ZERO dollars
NEW YORK, March 24, 2009
45,000 miles, 159 days, 16 countries, 4 continents and ZERO dollars. Beginning Thursday, April 16, WGN America, Tribune Broadcasting's nationally distributed cable, satellite and telco network will exclusively debut Around the World For Free. No script! No security! No problem! Around The World For Free pushes the envelope of reality entertainment with the journey of one man as he tries to circumnavigate the globe without a penny in his pocket, the ultimate trip in humanity.
In Around the World For Free Alex Boylan, winner of The Amazing Race 2, attempts the impossible: he strips himself of all monetary funds, and with only a backpack and the help of the online community, sets off on a mission to circumnavigate the globe. Beginning on April 16th WGN America will air Alex's entire voyage (available in HD) in 60-minute installments on Thursdays at 9 pm ET (6pm PT) with an additional airing at 12 midnight ET (9 pm PT). Filmed in 16 countries over 159 days, Around the World For Free follows Alex's trek from New York City to the untouched lands of Dominica, from a deportation in India right into a war zone in Kenya, and to the destitute poverty of Cambodia. Alex's journey puts the passion back into adventure and the real back into reality.
Around The World For Free is unlike any reality show out there.
Unparalleled access - with the lightest production "footprint" imaginable - only two people - host Alex and cameraman Zsolt not only reach corners of the world rarely if ever shown - they are able to weave in gripping stories from the slums of Caracas to the garbage dumps of Cambodia with an authenticity and ease that is simply unrivaled.
Unheard-of audience immersion - light-years beyond text voting and blogging, Around The World For Free's audience become true participants and shape the direction of the program on a daily basis. Random strangers step up to become online guides, local helpers, production assistants, hosts, stars, generous benefactors and most importantly, genuine friends of the crew every step of the way.
Unmatched rawness - no pre-determined travel path, no security, no "go-to" ground support - combined with a "no re-shoot" run-and-gun filming approach, creates a tangible honesty that transports viewers directly into the program.
Unbeatable music the program features some of the freshest original music on prime-time television, not only from North American bands, but even local musicians that the crew meets in countries such as Dominica and Tanzania, along the way.
"Around the World For Free was truly about discovering the beating heart of humanity in this world of misconceptions. The interactive format allowed the world to not only be a part of the experience, but to see itself in the purest and most immersive way possible," said Creator/Executive Producer/Host Alex Boylan.
The show highlights breathtaking scenery, exotic cultures and gripping human drama as Alex traverses countries like Trinidad, Venezuela, Peru, Tanzania, Thailand and Vietnam. Over the course of 159 days, Alex's global journey takes him by plane, train, bus and automobile, plus he manages to travel by hitchhiking, walking, jet skiing, paragliding and even trekking through a safari! However, traveling without funds requires Alex to come up with creative ways to earn money. From washing hair at a hairdressing school in Puerto Rico to harvesting bananas in rural South Africa, from clearing brush in the Kenyan Mara to working on a diving boat in Nha Trang, Vietnam, at each juncture Alex meets with the kindness and generosity of strangers in all corners of the globe.
Accompanying Alex on the road and documenting the entire voyage is sole crew member Zsolt Luka who produces, directs, films and edits Around the World For Free, using a groundbreaking approach that distills traditional broadcast techniques to their bare essence to allow for the quick turnarounds that the constantly moving production requires.
"With no one to get our backs, we survived by squeezing a truckload of high technology into our two humble backpacks, allowing us to pass undetected under the radar in lands wilder than you can imagine." said Creator/Director Luka.
In addition to the TV show, Around the World For Free will feature bonus online content at www.aroundtheworldforfree.com
. Viewers will be able to watch unseen footage from the journey, participate in live chats with Alex and even help deserving charities that the crew visited on the journey.
"For the first season of Around the World For Free, we created one of the most advanced multi-platform shows to date. People all around the world joined together to become a single community in their quest to help Alex on his journey. WGN America's understanding of this vision makes them the ideal partner for the TV distribution," said Creator/Executive Producer Burton Roberts.
"Around the World For Free is a unique, original program which creates a multi-platform media experience for our viewers. As someone who finds it difficult to get across town, I was repeatedly impressed with Alex's ingenuity in traveling the globe," said Sean Compton, Senior Vice President of Programming and Development, WGN America.
ABOUT WGN AMERICA :
WGN America is a broad entertainment network and destination for audiences across America. Part of Tribune Broadcasting Company, WGN America (also available in HD) is nationally distributed via cable, satellite and telco with entertainment programming consisting of cable exclusives, first-run programs, blockbuster movies and live sports. For program schedules or additional information please visit www.wgnamerica.com
ABOUT AROUND THE WORLD PRODUCTIONS:
Founded in 2006 by Alex Boylan, Burton Roberts and Zsolt Luka, Around The World Productions (www.aroundtheworldproductions.com
) is reinventing the multi-platform landscape, having taken community-directed online reality entertainment to the next level with Around The World For Free, and following it up with the wildly popular Rachael Ray webisode series Rach to the Rescue. Distilling traditional broadcast techniques into agile online productions with maximum authenticity, impact and soul, the Around The World Productions team specializes in handcrafted, unforgettable projects that touch audiences across the global spectrum. http://www.thefutoncritic.com/news.aspx?id=20090324wgn01