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    mediaguardian+–>(mediaguardian)
    Big Brother builds ‘Truman Show’ village

    Mike Leidig
    Friday October 22, 2004

    The Truman Show: German TV plans for an entire community to be scrutinised around the clock

    Germany’s version of the Big Brother reality TV show will take a giant leap next spring with the opening of a small town mimicking The Truman Show concept.

    In the Jim Carrey movie, a man called Truman is unwittingly the subject of a 24-hour TV programme that monitors his every living moment for the gratification of a worldwide audience.

    In the city currently being built outside Hamburg the only difference will be that contestants will be willing participants in this next-generation leap into voyeurism.

    There will be a forest, a town square complete with shops and a church tower, schools and businesses. Contestants will, it is hoped, live there for years; falling in love, going to school, even getting married. The producers hope to lure in businesses to employ them, teachers to teach them and doctors to care for the sick.

    Producer Rainert Laux said: “We hope couples will get pregnant and family groups will interact with all the usual family frictions.”

    He said they would handpick the “very best group, all unemployed” to live in what will be a cross between the Truman Show and Disneyworld.

    “They can do exams there if they want to go to school, learn languages or any other type of professional examination for a career and eventual employment.”

    Contestants will live in the city for years and it will be as realistic as possible so they have no problems reintegrating into society. But the company was unable to provide details on financing for such an ambitious scheme.

    Producers of the new show say the present format has had its day. The plan now is for an entire community to be scrutinised around the clock. As long as such a show draws viewers it will remain on air.

    The Carrey film was a dark fantasy whereby unassuming salesman Truman Burbank grows up in a city that is actually a vast studio without knowing that his every action is broadcast to the outside world in a soap opera without limits.

    Broadcaster RTL2’s idea is not quite so ambitious – but nearly. Its Big Brother city, built from scratch along the lines of a theme park, will afford fans of the show visits to the community to see the residents just as if they were visiting a zoo.

    The show is planned to start screening in March next year on a 17,000sq ft piece of land.

    Insiders say the show will initially be broadcast 24 hours a day on the internet, with highlights screened in an evening show seven days a week. If viewer interest is strong, the broadcasts will go live around the clock.

    The ambitious project will seek dozens if not hundreds of contestants but will follow the central tenet of the existing Big Brother: sex, difficult situations and the eternal fascination of human nature.

    Media psychologist Jo Graibel voiced concerns that people who stayed in the fake community for any length of time would find it hard to adjust to the “real world” beyond.

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