'Race’ Is on for GSN

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Summer is the time when many people take trips, but GSN hopes to use its acquisition of travel-competition show Amazing Race as a means to invite visitors to a number of its original series.

GSN, which acquired the Emmy Award-winning Amazing Race for an estimated $6 million (110 episodes) last month, will begin stripping the series nightly at 9 p.m. on July 11. Amazing Race will serve as a lead-in to the third season of a revamped Extreme Dodgeball, bowing on July 18 at 10 p.m. and the debut of billiards competition show BallBreakers, the following night in that time slot.

SYNDI QUESTION

“The jury is still out on how this kind of reality show will perform [in syndication],” said GSN head Rich Cronin. “Amazing Race is an action show that journeys to many beautiful and exotic places that has built every year for CBS. We think a lot of people are going to be interested in visiting again with their favorite characters or catching up on the season they missed.”

Cronin believes that Race will serve as a springboard for viewers to try out Extreme Dodgeball and BallBreakers, not to mention news seasons of Poker Royale and Lingo, the network’s top-rated original series, which bows 65 new episodes Aug. 1.

Looking to make the games more competitive and add to the show’s repeatability, GSN revised Dodgeball to play out over four quarters in an enclosed structure that Cronin said enables the players to “jump off the walls.” The six teams are now captained by a celebrity. For instance, beach volleyball gold medalist Kerry Walsh leads the Detroit Spoilers, while National Football League star Jeremiah Trotter heads the Philadelphia Benjamins. There are 18 episodes on tap for this season.

Cronin has high hopes for BallBreakers, which will give amateur pool players and hustlers a chance to play for $20,000. During each of the 13 installments, four players will show their skills in 9-Ball and also wager on or against their opponent until one leaves all the others broke.

Sal Masekela (ESPN’s X Games) and pool player Ewa Mataya Laurance, known as the “Striking Viking,” will serve as hosts, while Adrianne Curry, the winner of the first season of America’s Next Top Model, is the rack girl who sets up the table and assists with the betting component.

“We hope what Texas Hold 'Em has done for poker, BallBreakers can do for billiards,” said Cronin. “There are over 30 million people in this country who play pool. Many of them think they’re pretty good and this show can give them a chance to prove it.”

'BATTLE OF THE BARS’

GSN on July 8 began its 10-city “Battle of the Bars” billiards promotion with an eye toward building interest in the series. Cronin said the local competitions will also produce winners who could compete on TV if BallBreakers jumps to a second season.

GSN will also shift its late-night lineup, rolling out second and third seasons — 26 installments in all — of off-beat roommate challenge show Kenny vs. Spenny weeknights at 1 a.m., beginning on July 11. Cronin said the show’s first season performed well against younger viewers, but not on a household basis.

“We’ll move it to a place where there are younger viewers, especially in the summer,” he said. “It will follow Amazing Race, so we hope to get some sampling.”

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