August 12, 2005

‘Contender’ gets another shot at ESPN

By Paul J. Gough

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - ESPN hopes to deliver a
knockout punch in the ratings with a cable version of "The
Contender," the boxing reality series that got roughed up while
on NBC.

Twelve hour-long episodes will begin in April on the sports
cable giant; the last episode will be live. Three two-hour
specials with a boxing theme will start on ESPN beginning
October 15.

Sylvester Stallone and former boxer Sugar Ray Leonard, the
stars of the NBC version, will remain with the show in some
form, but it's all but certain that they won't be on as much.

"It'll be a limited involvement but definitely a presence,"
said Will Staeger, executive producer of ESPN Original

Stallone will executive produce with Mark Burnett
("Survivor") and DreamWorks principal Jeffrey Katzenberg.

Staeger said that much of its structure -- including the 16
boxers -- will remain the same, but the show will become a
little more sports-centric because it will be on ESPN.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter