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[08/11/05 - 12:00 AM]
The Contender Coming to ESPN April 2006

[via press release from ESPN]

"The Contender" Coming To ESPN April 2006

11.08.05 - ESPN, Inc., Mark Burnett Productions, and DreamWorks Television announced today that the second season of the critically acclaimed series The Contender is set to begin airing on ESPN April 2006. The Contender is an unscripted drama about the lives, fears and hopes of 16 professional boxers as they compete for the chance to change their lives and the lives of the people they love forever..

The Contender will air under the ESPN Original Entertainment (EOE) banner and be executive produced by Mark Burnett (Survivor, The Apprentice, Rock Star INXS), Jeffrey Katzenberg and Sylvester Stallone. Plans call for casting and production to begin immediately and for the series to air beginning April 2006 in primetime on ESPN.

"The Contender has all of the elements that make it the right fit for ESPN: compelling storylines, dynamic characters and suspense over the outcome," said Mark Shapiro, ESPN executive vice president, programming and production. "This series speaks to our viewers' love for competition and their appreciation for triumph over adversity, and it goes without saying that the track record of Mark Burnett is exemplary -- a perfect match for the critical and ratings successes EOE has delivered in both scripted and unscripted drama."

Mark Burnett said, "Our vision from the onset was to improve the entertainment experience of televised boxing for the fans. What better platform to achieve that vision than on the network that pioneered sports television programming."

After being introduced to all the contestants in the first episode, each subsequent show will see one or more boxing hopefuls eliminated via in-the-ring competition against each other. Viewers will see contestants training in the ring, living together in one house, and witness their personal interactions, while learning the often heart wrenching details of the lives these men lead and what led them to pursue their dream.

ESPN has options to renew the series for two subsequent seasons, and the network is partnered with Burnett and Katzenberg in utilizing the series across all media platforms on a worldwide basis.

Mark Burnett Productions will continue to handle the distribution of the series internationally, as well as the sponsorships and product integration.

ESPN Original Entertainment
Launched in 2001, ESPN Original Entertainment is ESPN's award-winning original programming banner. The EOE brand spans ESPN's sports-themed original movies, scripted and unscripted dramatic series, daily talk and debate series, documentaries, game shows, and such groundbreaking televised events as the X Games, Winter X Games, and The ESPY Awards. EOE's daily lifestyle and entertainment-themed series are also the cornerstone of ESPN2' s new programming lineup, featuring the flagship shows ESPN Hollywood, Quite Frankly, and Cold Pizza. With over 100 new scripted and unscripted projects in development, EOE continues to plant itself firmly on the cutting edge of sports and entertainment television and event creation. Serving both the passionate sports fan and the more casual viewer, EOE strives to expand ESPN's already industry-leading offerings in live events and sports news & information programming.

Mark Burnett Productions
Mark Burnett Productions is the leading unscripted drama production company in the world. Its television projects including Survivor and The Apprentice, dominate U.S. and worldwide ratings.

DreamWorks
DreamWorks Television is a division of DreamWorks SKG which was founded in 1994 by Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen. DreamWorks Television is currently in production on season three of the hit NBC series Las Vegas as well as season two of the critically acclaimed FX drama Rescue Me, and the upcoming ABC reality series The Miracle Workers. DreamWorks Television recently finished production on Into The West for TNT, which was the highest rated mini-series for the season with 81 million unique viewers. Other DreamWorks Television projects include: Spin City, Band of Brothers, Taken, Father of the Pride, Freaks and Geeks, The Job, Boomtown and Undeclared.





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· CONTENDER, THE (EPIX)





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