As an array of talent shows fill our screens, the sound of wannabes is nigh-on inescapable. But whatever your opinion on the worth of such content, there's no denying they're popular. And TVNZ is planning to add to the melee with a multi-million dollar local production of NZ’s Got Talent that will screen on TV ONE.
Prime, which broadcasts America's Got Talent, did just this in 2008 when it launched a local version of NZ's Got Talent, with Andrew Mulligan and Jason Reeves as hosts and Miriama Smith, Paul Ellis and Richard Driver as judges. It only lasted one season and the jury is still out on whether the title of the show was, in fact, misleading.
NZ On Air has already committed $1.6 million in funding subject to the full budget being confirmed and TVNZ is now seeking interest from multiple commercial partners to add to its own contribution. But, given the gnashin of teeth over the cutting of funding for public broadcasting, the decision to splash out on a talent show from overseas has got a few commentators hot under the collar.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for many types of New Zealand performers to entertain a nationwide audience," says NZ On Air chief executive Jane Wrightson.
Jeff Latch, head of TV ONE and TV2, says the scale of this enterprise means it will need multiple funding sources to make it happen.
“The producers need to travel across New Zealand to give people the best shot, and the show needs great production values," he says. "TV ONE is the natural home of big, local and entertaining shows and NZ’s Got Talent is a perfect fit, appealing to Kiwis of all ages. This particular show is the biggest brand in its genre in the world and we are tremendously excited to have the opportunity to provide a platform for New Zealand performers.”
The show is still in its planning stages, so, depending on when it starts, it could make for an interesting year in the battle for reality ratings. Tens of thousands of middle-aged woman, several politicians and an array of media darlings were left reeling at the news that TVNZ had decided not to recommission Dancing With The Stars in 2010. But Masterchef has well and truly filled that void.
As for MediaWorks, it recently announced the casting call and the sponsor list for The Block, which, along with New Zealand's Next Top Model, is its big reality show for the year. But, given the rumours about Jason Paris' departure being linked to the fact that he was unable to get the promised funding from IronBridge for a local version of the X-Factor, this announcement could be slightly galling.