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CBS’ new talent competition series sounds very familiar

CBS’ new talent competition series sounds very familiar
Mark Burnett thinks its time for a talent competition to "bring in judges from around the world." I think it's time he met Howie Mandel, Mel B, Heidi Klum, and Simon Cowell, America's Got Talent's judges. (Photo by Trae Patton/NBC)

CBS announced its latest reality competition series yesterday: The World’s Best, a partnership between Mark Burnett, Survivor’s creator, and Mike Darnell, the former Fox executive who developed everything from Joe Millionaire to American Idol, and now produces Ellen’s Game of Games and Little Big Shots.

The announcement had very little information: there’s no sense of when it might air, or what the prize will be, or if it will air live.

But what is there makes the show sound a lot like the most-popular reality show in the United States, and the seventh most-popular show on all of U.S. television last year: America’s Got Talent.

CBS executive Sharon Vuong called it “a unique, original format with global scale,” and the network described the show as “a first-of-its-kind global talent competition that features acts from every genre imaginable, from every corner of the planet.”

That describes AGT, which has long since had acts from around the world. Is having acts in different genres from different countries actually “unique”?

In the press release, Mark Burnett identified a major absence in reality competitions: “The time has come to take talent competition shows to the next level and bring in judges from around the world to decide on the ultimate winner.”

I think it’s time Mark Burnett watch America’s Got Talent, which, for the past two seasons, has had only judges from around the world: not one of them was born in the United States. (That’s been consistent over its life: Of the nine judges AGT has had over its life, only three were born in the U.S.)


So so far, the shows sound pretty similar. The only difference identified in this announcement is in the number of judges: 50.

They form something the The World’s Best calls the “wall of the world,” which presumably is different than the plinko wall on NBC’s The Wall:

“[Acts] not only have to impress American judges, but will also need to break through the ‘wall of the world,’ featuring 50 of the world’s most accomplished experts from every field of entertainment.”

It’ll be interesting to see how they incorporate that into the show, and to see in what other ways the show differentiates itself from America’s Got Talent. But it’s amusing how insistent it is that it’s so different when it sounds very similar.

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  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.


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