April 17, 2006
Elvira reality TV scary heir-raiser
By Kimberly Nordyke
LOS ANGELES -- Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, is looking for a possible heir to her throne, and she is hoping to find one via a new reality project being shopped to broadcast and cable networks.
Cassandra Peterson, who created the character 25 years ago and has portrayed her in numerous shows and movies, and her manager, Eric Gardner of Panacea Entertainment, have teamed with reality TV producers Stuart Krasnow ("Weakest Link") and FremantleMedia North America ("American Idol") to pitch a project featuring contestants competing for a one-year contract to portray the character in various personal appearances.
The contestants would be put through elimination challenges designed to parody some of the most popular reality shows but with a macabre twist, with Peterson (in character) serving as a sort of mentor -- or "tormentor," as she puts it -- and judges making the final determination on who gets eliminated.
Peterson likens the idea of finding a new Elvira to that of Batman and Bozo the Clown, characters played by several actors over the years. "Obviously, I don't want to be walking around dressed up like Elvira when I'm 105 years old," Peterson said.
Krasnow added that the project will have comedic and macabre elements. "We're looking at a show where the cast is going to be sleeping in coffins in a pretty scary place, and part of the production will be shot in Transylvania," he said.
Gardner said the project is part of a broader plan to immortalize the character that includes an animated series as well as a family-friendly feature film centered on the "back story" of Halloween that features the Elvira character. "Our benignly megalomaniacal goal is to co-opt Halloween, immortalizing the Elvira character in the process," he said. "The opportunity to meld a major brand and a major holiday comes along once in a lifetime, if that."