This weekend TEN unveils one of several new Reality shows that it hopes will underpin its second half of the year.
Everybody Dance Now is an original format from FremantleMedia Australia that pits dancers of all ages and styles against one another.
US superstars Kelly Rowland and Jason Derülo front two teams of a whopping 44 acts each in an arena setting at Melbourne’s Dockland studios. The series will air Sundays, Mondays and Tuesday nights in its first outings and host Sarah Murdoch is ringmaster, of sorts, having left a successful run on Australia’s Next Top Model.
After three seasons of So You Think You Can Dance, a network backflip on Don’t Stop Believing and disappointing numbers for Young Talent Time, can Everybody Dance Now deliver?
Murdoch says the dancers impressed Rowland and Derülo, who have seen it all before.
“We have a girl who turns a hip hop dance into and African dance, there’s Indonesian percussion dancers, and tap dancers dancing to rock music. The creativity by the dancers is incredible,” she says.
“There is an urban, battle-ground feel to the arena, so it could be the beautiful, contemporary dancer versus the hip-hop crew from the wrong side of the streets.
“The big difference in this show to any other show is there are no judges because the audience arena chooses who wins each round. They have an electronic keypad.
“Kelly could put up a 12 year old hip hop boy against Jason’s contemporary group, or jazz group. It’s all about the strategy of who they think the audience will choose to win. The audience presses their keypad right then and there for Team Kelly or Team Jason and the announcement comes up on a screen in the studio.
“It’s not one of those shows where we put up people who are hopeless and everyone laughs at them. There’s none of that. The only people who are in this show, and they scouted all around the country, are the people who are the most talented. Every single act kind of blows you away.”
Each night results in 2 winners pocketing $10,000 each. Two losing acts will enter an audience-voted Wild Card round.
The Grand Final lands $250,000, meaning the total prize pool is $450,000.
Quitting Top Model while she was on top didn’t come easy for Murdoch and there was much speculation about her next move with rumours about breakfast television and fashion reality projects.
“It was a really hard decision because I’d put so much into that show. But I loved that I had the freedom to do that. I learned so much from it and loved working on the show,” she says.
“Producing and hosting was pretty all-consuming, and with having a new baby it was tough. So I really wanted to have a break because you finish one show and then pretty much go into the next season. But also I felt like I had taken that show to where I wanted it to be. Montana who won last year was definitely our most successful find ever.”
In walking away from Top Model, Murdoch was also walking away from the News Corporation-owned Shine Australia to another production company.
“It’s got to be the right production company for the right job. Top Model was a completely open tender for production companies to come to us and pitch for the show. We chose Shine over Fremantle but they also pitched at that point. This is a Fremantle show but it’s definitely got to be the right show,” she says.
“As a host I was thrilled when (Fremantle) came to me. I couldn’t think of a more perfect show for me. I’ve done ballet since I was 6 years old, I’ve lived and breathed dance my whole life and I’m such a fan of dance.”
Murdoch is also aware there will be cynicism from some quarters in fronting a show for TEN, given her husband Lachlan is chairman of the board.
“There will be nay-sayers so it came into my mind,” she admits. “But I’ve got to make the right decision with the right network. Obviously there were other options out there and I wanted to go with the right project and the right people.
“I know James Warburton and David Mott really well. I trust them and I know I’m in good hands.”
Everybody Dance Now will not be without competition. While Nine has Big Brother, Seven has The X Factor, but despite its gargantuan cast, Murdoch believes there are inspiring stories to be told with dance drawing upon a wide range of cultural roots and expression.
“These guys have worked so hard to get to where they are, turning their lives around,” she says.
“There are dancers who have come from single-parent households and tough up-bringings and worked so hard to get to where they are. They’re so excited to be on a show like this.
“I love the immediacy with a live audience right there, it’s nerve-wracking and scary at times, but that’s what life’s about -putting yourself out there and trying new things and challenging yourself.”
Everybody Dance Now premieres 7:30pm Sunday and continues 8pm Monday and Tuesday on TEN.