13 March 2008

Coming to America: NBC to produce gen show

Finally ... American TV has seen the light!

According to Reuters, NBC is now going to dig up celebrity family trees along the lines of the popular BBC show, Who Do You Think You Are?.

Executive producer for the series is Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe of "Friends"). Kudrow grew up in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley. Her father, a famous headache physician (working with migraines), is also a genealogist searching their family's roots; I met him years ago at a mutual friend's home. Their family is from Mogilev, Belarus - same as my TALALAY family. I can only hope that he encouraged Kudrow to become involved in this project!

According to Kudrow's webpage, she seems suited to this task. With her background in biology, perhaps we will also see DNA genetic genealogy worked into the series.

Kudrow graduated from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., with a B.S. degree in biology. Intending to pursue a career in research, she returned to Los Angeles and began working with her father, a world-renowned headache specialist. In all likelihood, Kudrow would be a researcher today if she had not been inspired to perform by one of her brother's friends, actor/comedian Jon Lovitz (NBC's "Saturday Night Live").

The BBC show's fourth season premiere scored the highest rating ever - some 6.8 million viewers tuned in.

Tracing the Tribe's readership might be interested to learn that an Israeli version is also in the works, and I'll post more on this IBA development later.

Here is the Reuters article:

NBC digging up celebs' family trees

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - If exploring the lives of celebrities seems a little tired, NBC has a solution: Find their relatives.

The network is developing an American version of the hit British series "Who Do You Think You Are," where stars are shown the oft-surprising details of their ancestors' lives.

In the UK version, the series uncovered backstories included tales of bigamy, wartime heroism and, in one case, attempted murder. Celebrity participants often are brought to tears as they learn about their relatives' hardships.

Producers are researching the family trees of several interested celebrity candidates to see whether they have compelling backgrounds (the network declined to name the candidates). Former "Friends" star Lisa Kudrow will serve as an executive producer.

Celebrity-based reality shows have been on the rise, fueled by the success of ABC's "Dancing With the Stars." NBC found success with "The Celebrity Apprentice" this season and has "Celebrity Circus," premiering this summer.

"Who Do You Think You Are," which launched in 2004, will air its fifth season on BBC1 this year. Its fourth-season premiere in the summer scored the show's highest rating ever, with 6.8 million viewers tuning in.

The show is credited with sparking an interest in genealogy among many BBC viewers. Last year, BBC Magazines began publishing Who Do You Think You Are? magazine, a monthly publication about tracing one's family tree. Versions of "Who Do You Think You Are" also are in production in Canada and Australia.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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