Author Topic: What'll 'The Apprentice' exec Burnett do next?  (Read 2523 times)

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Offline puddin

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What'll 'The Apprentice' exec Burnett do next?
« on: June 03, 2004, 08:12:43 PM »
Behind Reality

Television producer Mark Burnett discusses 'Survivor,' Trump and his competition
By Cynthia Littleton
The Hollywood Reporter

Mark Burnett, the mastermind behind "Survivor," "The Apprentice" and other reality programming recently sat down and discussed his success.

The Hollywood Reporter: Why do you think "The Apprentice" worked so well? NBC is banking a lot next season on you and Donald Trump.

Mark Burnett: Both "The Apprentice" and "Survivor" have something in common, which is dealing with the emotional pull that all humans feel from being excluded from something.
That's done through either being voted off, in the case of "Survivor," or being fired in "Apprentice." It's something that's akin to not being invited to the party, like being the last person chosen in (the) schoolyard for a sports team. Even the feeling at a party that people don't really want you there. Those are emotional connections which are common to every person unless you just have no awareness. A lot of my stuff is based on (mythology scholar) Joseph Campbell's books, (i.e.) "The Power of Myth," "The Hero With a Thousand Faces." I'm a huge fan of Joseph Campbell. Both of those shows take that feeling of exclusion to a level of death. When you're fired, or in the case of "Survivor," when the torch goes out, it's like being killed. In "Survivor," we go to the audacity of blue lighting on a long pathway. You're disappearing into the blue light (when castaways are voted off the show). These are the emotional hooks the audience relates to.

THR: Why do you think the reality genre is stealing the spotlight from scripted TV so often these days?

Burnett: In comparing them to scripted shows, it's the unpredictable nature of these type of shows that's important to the audience. In "CSI," you very well know that Bill Petersen won't be dying this week and that they will solve the case. That's what made the room for an unpredictable show like ours. In (last month's "Survivor: All-Stars" finale), people really wanted Rupert (Boneham) to win (over eventual victor Amber Brkich.) I always put these shows along the lines of a letter you get every week from someone you care about. It's the same envelope, the same stationery, the same stamp, but inside you know that the letter will be very, very different.

THR: How much of the drama in "Survivor" and "Apprentice" is created in the edit bay?

Burnett: We create situations. This is clearly contrived situations creating genuine emotions. Because were I to wait for 16 people to happen to be shipwrecked, I'd be waiting a long time to do a show. What is very real is this feeling of exclusion from the group. It's so real. We've all thought about this stuff since we were children. It's dealing with those raw, connected emotional hooks that Joseph Campbell talks about in his books, be it the journey of a hero, unwitting or otherwise, or the sense of death and rebirth in "Survivor." (After) someone is voted off each week, typically the lighting comes back to orange-y from blue, and (host) Jeff (Probst) will say, "We'll see you tomorrow." The tribe is living on. It's death and rebirth. That's totally what I'm operating off of, those belief systems. ... Not to put anybody down, but some shows are simply done for the shock value. "Littlest Groom" is not something you're going to watch again. I've tried to build franchises that would become kind of a living thing.

THR: "The Restaurant" was a departure for you in not having a formal competitive game built into the show. Was it hard to shift to a more straight-ahead documentary-style show?

Burnett: It's really much harder to make that. You don't have the building blocks of finale or challenges and tasks and setups. You're only filling up the drama around the set pieces. "The Restaurant" is 44 minutes of unscripted drama, and it is absolutely the hardest to do.

THR: What do you like on TV these days? Do you watch much of your competition?

Burnett: I like "Alias," and I like "24" a lot in terms of dramas. I'm very sad at the end of "Sex and the City." I'm sad at the end of "Friends." Those are great, great shows. I like "Law & Order." I think "ER" is still brilliant. . . . I love "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy." I think it's absolutely great. I like "Joe Schmo."

THR: You've been a trailblazer since "Eco-Challenge" and "Survivor" in courting big-ticket advertisers to help fund your productions. How do you think the integrated marketing/branded entertainment trend will change the television business in the next few years?

Burnett: I thoroughly believe that only idiots are not looking for alternative financing forms in today's market because the model can't continue with TiVo growing and video-on-demand and everything. There's got to be a different way of looking at it. . . . There's no reason to have this firewall between (producers and advertisers). We kind of broke that. We made some little chinks in armor in "Survivor." With "Contender," we can make maximum revenue possible by giving sponsors way more integration in an organic way. (NBC agreed to the unusual provision of selling some ad time in "Contender" back to Burnett and co-producer DreamWorks to resell on their own.)

THR: But does that ever frustrate you as a producer? Have you ever clashed with sponsors over a creative issues?

Burnett: I hear some producers say they really don't want the advertising community involved in their precious creative work. What's more creative than telling 30-second stories and seeing billions of dollars of product fly off the shelves? The advertising community is very creative and very willing to work together with producers. They have great ideas. As producers, you have to deal with studio or network notes anyway, and many notes you get are from people who haven't actually produced a movie or TV show. You have to work hand in hand respectfully in that way. Sometimes the (advertisers') notes have been the best help of all. It's a fresh set of eyes.

THR: You always seem to have a dozen shows in production at any given time. How can you personally juggle so many projects at the same time?

Burnett: Do I sound busy to you? I never sound harried. I always return calls. I'm just good at organizing my time. And one man is not an island. What I am is a CEO of a large company with a lot of divisions. You hire people who you think are better than you. You simply manage. Producing is another word for manager. You're managing talent. Look at "Survivor: All Stars" -- I just did the best finale I've ever done. I did "The Apprentice" and "Restaurant." In my busiest year, I've done my best work.

THR: How did it all start for you as a television producer?

Burnett: I was racing in these French extreme races called Raid Galuloises. I was with the first American team to compete in this race in the Middle East (in 1993). We were riding camels, Arabian horses, backpacking and mountaineering in 10 days. It was totally crazy. Our team had to get sponsors, and sponsors want exposure. I had no idea what they meant, but I was thinking, I'll just go and make a show. I did it in a totally unique way. I didn't know the rules, so I simply got the French organizers to provide me all the footage from their 20 camera teams in return for exposure in the U.S. marketplace. I got (KCAL-TV) Channel 9 in L.A. to send a reporter and a cameraman, and I got them to edit the footage plus some of their own footage of me and my team into a 90-minute special. They didn't pay me anything, and I didn't pay them anything. They got to air the show on Channel 9, and then the rights reverted to me. At the time, Channel 9 was owned by Disney. I got them to provide on-air talent: Mark Steines (now a correspondent on "Entertainment Tonight"). So then I took the finished show, which was great, and sold it to ESPN. I told them, you give me half the commercials, I'll give you a free show. I sold the commercials at a huge profit, made money and got the exposure for the sponsors. And I saw how easy this business was.







Offline Bathfizzy

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Re: What'll 'The Apprentice' exec Burnett do next?
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2004, 02:20:10 AM »
What a smart guy that Mark Burnett is.  I use to love watching the ECO CHALLENGE.  I don't get the discovery channel so I don't see it anymore.  He definitely has good taste in tv viewing as he mentioned most of the shows I like watching.

Offline Texan

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Re: What'll 'The Apprentice' exec Burnett do next?
« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2004, 11:10:24 AM »
I have never seen eco challege....does it still come on?  Not sure if I have that channel or not

Offline puddin

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Re: What'll 'The Apprentice' exec Burnett do next?
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2004, 07:58:28 PM »
I don't think its on anymore Texan..I never watched it either...

Trump Searches for 3rd Apprentice
Saturday July 10 8:37 AM ET

Donald Trump hasn't even chosen his second apprentice, and he's already looking for his third.

Trump spent Friday interviewing prospective candidates for the third season of his hit NBC reality show, "The Apprentice," at Universal Studios Hollywood in Los Angeles on Friday.

Some 200 hopefuls waited in line for a casting call.

The real estate mogul is only expected to make one other appearance during the casting tour at the Trump Tower in New York City on July 30.

Auditions will be held in Miami, Boston, Honolulu, Salt Lake City, Philadelphia, San Antonio, Jacksonville, Fla., Minneapolis, Chicago, San Francisco, Memphis, Tenn., Las Vegas, Cincinnati and Seattle.

NBC says prospective applicants should be able to "take risks, bounce back after failing, succeed in a cutthroat environment, go against the tide, remain focused, think creatively and be a leader."

The second season of "The Apprentice" will premiere in September

Offline WENDY

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Re: What'll 'The Apprentice' exec Burnett do next?
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2004, 07:15:25 PM »
Mark Burnett is like the crocodile hunter ot reality TV. He is brilliant... I watched him on the first season and he seemed pretty wild. He would definitely be someone I could hang out with. :;>)
Wendy Jean