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‘Fear Factor,’ ‘Wipeout’ Makeovers in the Works at Endemol Shine Following Success of ‘Deal or No Deal Island’ (EXCLUSIVE)

When NBC recently resurrected its long-dormant “Deal or No Deal,” it came with a new format: “Deal or No Deal Island.” The game show was originally a “shiny floor” in-studio contest where players had to guess how much money was inside a large briefcase. The updated iteration takes things outdoors, raising the stakes by adding interpersonal dynamics, physical challenges and survival to the mix.

At producer Endemol Shine North America, they call adding a fresh spin to existing IP the “ESNA twist.” And it’s become a hallmark for CEO Sharon Levy, who took over the shingle — part of Banijay Americas — a little more than a year ago.

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“I’m not a fan of a straight-up reboot without a reason for being,” Levy says. “You need to give them a reason to watch. And it has to feel of the moment. Development is probably always my first true love. It’s how I started and as much as I love making things, I love cracking them ahead of time. I’d much prefer arguing and fighting and testing and prototyping format beats and thinking about things. Looking in the catalog and asking, ‘What are we going to do with “Deal or No Deal”?’ Having this idea to set it on an island and make it a social competition was a crazy idea.”

Levy says “Deal or No Deal Island” was inspired somewhat by the success of island mystery films like the “Knives Out” sequel “Glass Onion.” The show has paid off with temendous multi-platform delayed-viewing, and NBC says it’s the fastest-growing NBC unscripted debut ever on Peacock.

The company also recently introduced “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” with lifestyle brand The Home Edit. Levy is awaiting word on a series order from ABC, which has been developing a new version of the reworked reality show. Meanwhile, CBS has ordered new competition series “The Summit,” based on a format from sister Endemol Shine Australia. Add in returning series like Fox’s “Lego Masters” and the “MasterChef” franchise, and for the first time ever, ESNA has shows set up at all four broadcast networks.

“I was so grateful to my entire team for the year we had. And I’m lucky that I have a company that has such a great catalog,” Levy says. “The beauty of being Endemol Shine and working for Banijay is you have the world as your oyster. We have amazing IP coming in from different angles.”

Indeed, next up, Variety can exclusively report that Levy and Endemol Shine are aiming to bring back completely reinvented versions of two more signature shows: “Fear Factor” and “Wipeout.”

“I am a huge horror fan,” Levy says of her “Fear Factor” reimagining. The show originally ran on NBC (with host Joe Rogan) from 2001 to 2006, and brought back from 2011 to 2012. It most recently was briefly revived on MTV in the 2017 and 2018, hosted by Ludacris.

The original series put people in scary scenarios to win prizes. This time, the revival will have a social experiment component, “using where we are in society and how crippled people are by fear — and how important it is to overcome that as a backbone,” she says. “We are looking at it completely differently than it has ever been done before. When you have a category like ‘Fear Factor,’ which is a social experiment with real stakes, the potential of that idea excites me.”

The same goes for “Wipeout,” which was most recently reinvented for TBS. The new version will lean further into the physical comedy space. “We have some fun new takes on ‘Wipeout’ and exploring how you take it past the very great note of someone eating it and falling into water,” Levy says. “It’s seems like that can also be in a physical comedy space. There are other avenues to mine for that one.”

A veteran unscripted exec who’s had stints at Stone Stanley (“The Mole”) and Spike TV (“Bar Rescue”), Levy has also been ramping up Endemol Shine’s scripted fare — including Netflix’s upcoming “Ripley,” starring Andrew Scott — all with that ESNA twist.

“We had the rights to all the Tom Ripley books, and we were so fortunate to get [executive producer] Steve Zaillian, who is a huge, purist fan, to come on board,” she says. “Ripley” was originally set up at Showtime before heading to Netflix, where it premieres on April 4. “You really see the power of the Netflix marketing machine, and how they get behind something so meaningfully.”

Levy’s scripted team, led by Lisa Fahrenholt, is also behind the upcoming HBO adaptation of “Como Agua Para Chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate),” from directors Julian de Tavira and Ana Lorena Perez Rios. Six episodes of “Como Agua Para Chocolate” have already been filmed in Mexico and are now waiting on a premiere date.

The production is a collaboration between Endemol Shine North America and its Latin America-based sister Endemol Shine Boomdog, as well as Salma Hayek Pinault’s Ventanarosa shingle.

“You’ll see more of that,” Levy says of collaborating with Banijay siblings around the world. “We’re talking to one of our companies now, in New Zealand, about a big new project that we want to take out together. On the scripted side, it really does feel incredibly globally collaborative. I think that’s what gives us an advantage in the scripted market, especially when everyone is crashing their numbers.”

Another initiative inside Banijay that Levy has spearheaded is Banijay Launch, a global program that aims to support women creators with promising unscripted formats. “We want to look globally at helping women get a better seat at the table, helping them get ideas into the view of people who can make decisions and support them,” she says. “That can only happen at a company like Banijay. When you’re part of a large company like that, you can make a lot of things happen.”

Next up, Levy has her sights on selling a nonscripted series to Netflix. “That’s a personal goal of mine,” she says. “I knew it’d be a hard thing to take on the CEO title, but I’ve really enjoyed it. It just makes me want to do more, do better, be faster and more competitive.”

(A previous version of this story wrote that a special “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” aired in the fall; a pilot was ordered, but has not aired.)

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