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Spielberg's talent show

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Los Angeles (Reuters): Director Steven Spielberg has joined with the Fox television network for his first reality show, an American Idol-like contest to find the nation's next great filmmaker, Fox said. Spielberg, the Oscar-winning director behind Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List, will develop the new Fox show, On the Lot, with Mark Burnett, the producer of such TV reality hits as Survivor and The Apprentice. The series, slated to air sometime in the 2006-07 broadcast season, will pit a group of aspiring filmmakers in competition for a Hollywood development deal on the lot of DreamWorks, the studio Spielberg co-founded. DreamWorks was recently sold to Paramount Pictures, a division of Viacom Inc.

Fox reality programming chief Mike Darnell told Reuters yesterday that Spielberg would appear on the show but that the nature or extent of his role on the series had yet to be decided. ''All through my career I've done what I can to discover new talent and give them a start,'' Spielberg said in a statement. ''This opportunity ... allows all of us to reach out directly to open a much wider door.'' Details about the show's format were being worked out, but Darnell said ''On the Lot'' would be structured as an elimination contest, with home viewers voting on which competitors should advance to the next round each week.

Like the Fox hit American Idol, the top-rated TV show in the United States, the new series will air twice weekly, with an hourlong ''film premiere'' episode in which short-subject works produced by the contestants are shown, followed the next night by a half-hour ''box office'' results show that decides who makes the cut to the next round. The show will also feature a panel of judges, consisting of a high-ranking studio executive, a prominent film critic and other experts who will comment on the finished films in front of a live audience.

''There's so many amateur and budding filmmakers who really don't have the opportunity to show their stuff,'' Darnell said. ''We want to bring them to Hollywood and have them start out making shorts and competing with each other ... and have America help us find the next great filmmaker.'' After a nationwide search for undiscovered talents, a group of 16 finalists will be divided into several teams that will produce a short film for each week's selected film genre, such as comedy, horror, drama, romance and science fiction.

Fox is a unit of News Corp.

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