As if Survivor, Eco-Challenge and Destination Mir aren’t enough to keep him busy, producer Mark Burnett is now planning a fourth reality show – Combat Missions. Tentatively scheduled for summer 2001, the 15 x 1-hour series will see special forces units go head-to-head in war-type scenarios. USA Networks holds U.S. broadcast rights (as they do with Eco-Challenge), while Burnett retains international rights.
Over the past few months, Burnett has had a hectic schedule, flying first to Borneo then to Australia, filming Eco-Challenge 2000 and Survivor: The Australian Outback. So far, he has managed to maintain a hands-on approach with all projects, though industry buzz has it that he plans to step back from his day-to-day involvement with Eco-Challenge. A spokesperson for USA Networks denies this is the case, but Burnett concedes he can’t maintain complete control over everything: ‘I have a large crew and I’ve worked with them a long time, so I’m learning to stop doing it all.’ Of the four shows, he says Eco-Challenge is his baby, so he hopes to remain actively involved.
The fate of Destination Mir – in which American civilians compete to win a trip to the Russian space station – appears to be in question, though Burnett insists it’s all systems go. Russian deputy prime minister, Ilya Klebanov, has announced a proposal to bring down the station next year. In Burnett’s opinion, that scenario is unlikely, but he says he and U.S. broadcaster NBC remain committed to the program, even if Mir is de-orbited. One alternative is to send the winner into space to orbit the Earth, and another is that the International Space Station may step in to honor the contract, he says.
It is believed that Burnett has struck an unusual deal with his broadcast partners (USA, CBS and NBC), which sees him sharing in advertising revenues.