Fox Racing ABC to Airwaves with 'Trading Spouses'
Friday June 25 6:09 PM ET
Call it the network television battle of the migratory moms.
Looking to beat ABC to the punch with a concept that made headlines and sparked advertiser enthusiasm last month, the Fox network said on Friday it is developing its own reality show in which the mothers of two households switch places.
Tentatively titled "Trading Spouses: Meet Your New Mommy," the forthcoming Fox show is expected to premiere in late summer ahead of ABC's much-ballyhooed "Wife Swap," currently scheduled to launch Sept. 29.
But a Fox spokesman said no air date for "Trading Spouses" has been set.
The network, a Fox Entertainment Group unit of News Corp. Ltd., has initially ordered 10 hourlong segments of the show, with each of five swaps playing out over two segments, a Fox spokesman said.
But unlike ABC's series, he said, "Trading Spouses" will incorporate a yet-to-be-disclosed game element, and dads rather than moms will be the subjects of some of the Fox swaps.
As in ABC's "Wife Swap," the dramatic or comedic tension of "Trading Spouses" derives from the culture clash that ensues when parents are matched up with households of dissimilar backgrounds -- such as a well-to-do mother moving in with a working-class family.
"It's a fish-out-of-water story. It's like 'The Simple Life ' meets your mother," Fox reality guru Mike Darnell told Daily Variety, drawing a parallel to the Fox hit that puts pampered socialites Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie in rural surroundings.
But a closer comparison could easily be drawn to ABC's "Wife Swap," which drew positive buzz at the network's "upfront" presentation to advertisers last month, though some media buyers expressed concern that the show's racy title conjured up images of ***ually adventurous couples.
Excerpts of the pilot showed a "new age" mother trying to impose a regimen of meditation and broccoli on her suburban swap family, while her counterpart, a fastidious housewife, tearfully lamented the hygiene of her temporary abode.
An ABC spokeswoman said the Walt Disney Co.-owned network had no comment on "Trading Spouses." But Fox has a history of rolling out shows that bear a resemblance to reality series on other networks.
After NBC unveiled plans for its boxing series "The Contender," featuring Sylvester Stallone and Sugar Ray Leonard, Fox announced that Oscar De La Hoya was in its corner for "The Next Great Champ."
Following the success of NBC's "The Apprentice ," starring real estate tycoon Donald Trump, Fox also announced plans for a similarly themed show of its own featuring flamboyant billionaire Richard Branson.
ABC and Fox previously went head to head with competing, and short-lived game shows "The Chair" and "The Chamber"http://tv.yahoo.com/news/va/20040625/108821216800.html