Dirty Jobs, Project Greenlight each returning, basically, but with new networks, twists

Two excellent but cancelled series are essentially returning to television, though on different networks and with slightly different formats. Mike Rowe’s Dirty Jobs-like series Somebody’s Gotta Do It will air on CNN this fall, while Starz’s first reality series will essentially be Project Greenlight, though The Chair has the twist of two different directors producing two different movies but using the same script.

First, CNN announced that Rowe’s new series is “a brand new mission” but it sounds pretty similar to his cancelled Discovery Channel series, as it “brings viewers face-to-face with men and women who march to the beat of a different drum. In each episode, Rowe visits unique individuals and joins them in their respective undertakings, paying tribute to innovators, do-gooders, entrepreneurs, collectors, fanatics–people who simply have to do it.”

In case there’s any doubt that it’ll be the same show, just with a wider range of people, it’s produced by the same production company as Dirty Jobs, Pilgrim Studios. The new format sounds like a logical extension of Dirty Jobs, as it will allow Mike Rowe to do what he does best, which is interact with and spotlight real people in their real lives. And I’m sure it will be better than NatGeo WILD’s shameless clone of Dirty Jobs.

Meanwhile, Starz’s 10-episode fall series will be executive produced by Chris Moore, who produced and starred in the HBO (later Bravo) series; he’ll mentor the contestants along with Zachary Quinto and his producing partners. The network describes The Chair as “a competition documentary series that follows two directors through the process of bringing their first feature to the screen,” both of whom will use the exact same screenplay. The network will air the films, and the series itself “will document the creation, marketing and theatrical release of both adaptations.”

Viewer votes will give one director $250,000, and because filming in Pittsburgh, Penn., has ended, the network has announced the directors and screenplay:

“Filmmakers Shane Dawson and Anna Martemucci will adapt ‘How Soon is Now,’ a coming-of-age feature length comedy that chronicles the first homecoming on Thanksgiving weekend by a handful of college freshman who are fumbling towards adulthood, written by Dan Schoffer and produced by Josh Shader.

While they are both first-time feature film directors, Dawson is an internet superstar whose YouTube comedy channels boast more than 10 million subscribers and over a billion views. Martemucci is a writer, actor and filmmaker who most recently received critical recognition for her independent film Breakup at a Wedding, which she starred in and wrote. Both directors will have creative leeway to develop their film using their own ingenuity and distinct experience. Screenplay rewrites, the casting of actors, hiring of crewmembers — even the name of the film — will be up to the directors and documented in the series.”

That’s a really smart twist on Project Greenlight, which began as a competition for writers and directors but spent most of its season following the creation of a film. It was fantastic drama. (Alas, only seasons one and two are on DVD.)

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.