Yahoo developing ABC’s abandoned The Runner with LivePlanet and Mark Burnett

The Runner, a show concept that never got off the ground at ABC back in 2001, has found new life and new producers.

Originally pitched more than five years ago to ABC by LivePlanet—Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s company and the producers of Project Greenlight—the show is highly interactive, following a “runner” as he or she races across the country and viewers try to find him or her. The viewer that finds the runner will win a large cash prize. For a number of reasons, including budget, security, and TV-related problems, the show was dropped in late October of 2001.

Today, the show is back in development, as “Yahoo! is teaming with Mark Burnett and Live Planet in a bid to bring back shelved ABC project The Runner’,” Variety reports, noting that this “could be one of the biggest entertainment events ever on the Internet.” Still, despite Burnett and Yahoo’s involvement, Variety says “it’s possible that financial and production considerations could yet prevent a greenlight.” What’s most important though, is money, as “the promise of profitability will likely be key to Yahoo!’s ultimate decision to greenlight” the show, Variety says.

If it gets approved, the series would be more web-centered, using Yahoo!’s various services. An insider tells Variety, “The Web was driving the TV show. Now the Internet is the show.” It’s still possible, however, for the show to spawn a TV component, most likely “a series of specials.”

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