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Fear Factor
Format Reality/Game Show
Directed by J. Rupert Thompson
Presented by Joe Rogan
Country of origin  United States
No. of seasons 6
No. of episodes 142
Production
Executive producer(s) Matt Kunitz
Running time 60 Minutes
Broadcast
Original channel NBC
Original run June 11, 2001 – September 12, 2006
External links
Official website

Fear Factor is an American stunt/dare reality game show.

The original Dutch version was called Now or Neverland. When Endemol USA and NBC adapted it to the American market in 2001, they changed the name to Fear Factor.

The show pits contestants against each other to complete a series of stunts better and/or quicker than all the other contestants, by doing this in the fastest time, for a grand prize of US$50,000. From Seasons One to Five, the contestants were generally three men and three women, all playing for themselves, but in Season Six, the show moved to a permanent format of four teams of two people, each with a pre-existing relationship with one another, all playing for a shared prize of the same amount. The show is hosted by UFC commentator and comedian Joe Rogan, executive produced by Matt Kunitz and directed by J. Rupert Thompson.

As NBC's answer to the successful series Survivor, the show was initially a hit for the network in the summer of 2001, and built strong ratings for the next couple of seasons, but as the years passed, the ratings declined. In 2006, Fear Factor faced tough competition with TV ratings champion, the Fox talent series American Idol on Tuesday nights, and the ratings declined further. Despite much publicity concerning an improved format and better stunts for Season Six, NBC put the struggling program on hiatus for the remainder of the season to make room for the sitcom Joey, which was removed from the NBC lineup a few weeks later. NBC then canceled Fear Factor in May. The network began airing the remainder of the season on June 13, 2006, with the remaining episodes to be burned throughout the summer.[1][2] In 2004, Fear Factor became the first network reality show to be syndicated. Over its six seasons, Fear Factor earned NBC a reported $600 million in advertising revenue. Currently only the first season has been released on DVD, but in early 2009, plans were made to release a box set containing the entire series on DVD. The project was put on hold for an unknown reason in March 2010.

Contents

Show format

Normal format

Before the contestants are introduced, Rogan said the following: "I'm Joe Rogan. This is Fear Factor. The stunts you are about to see were all designed and supervised by trained professionals. They are extremely dangerous and should not be attempted by anyone, anywhere, anytime."

The normal format involves three men and three women, or four teams of two people with a pre-existing relationship, who must complete three professional stunts in either the fastest or longest time (depending on the stunt) to win US$50,000. If a contestant/team is too scared to attempt a stunt, does not complete a stunt, vomits (which has happened a few times), or (in some cases) does not perform it better or quicker than any of the other contestants/teams, they are eliminated from the competition. If only one contestant/team successfully completes the first or the second stunt, they automatically win $25,000, and the other contestants eliminated in the stunt will return for the next stunt to compete for the remaining $25,000. If no one successfully completes the first or the second stunt, then all of the contestants/teams eliminated in the stunt will return to the next stunt to compete for a reduced $25,000. (In season one, if one person completed the stunt, then the completer wins $10,000 and everyone returns on the next stunt for $50,000.)

Only once in the history of Fear Factor has the $50,000 top prize gone unclaimed in an episode. This happened on a Best Friends edition on September 27, 2004, when neither of the remaining teams was able to complete the final stunt. In the stunt, one member of each team had to drive a ramp car, while the other member had to drive a sports car. The one driving the sports car had to drive it onto the truck bed of the ramp car. If the sports car fell off of the truck bed at any time, the team was automatically eliminated. Had it been successfully completed, the team who did this the fastest would have won.

After the acquisition of Universal Studios of Vivendi Universal by NBC's parent company General Electric in 2004, contestants could get vacations, in order to promote the theme park division of NBC Universal, at Universal Orlando or get trips to Universal Studios in Hollywood.

The order of the stunts on a typical episode of Fear Factor is as follows:

First stunt

The first stunt is designed to physically test each of the contestants, like jumping off a building to the next. Usually, the two men and the two women, or the three teams, that complete the stunt the best under whichever restrictions (such as the fastest, or furthest distance, or number of flags collected in under a certain time) would move on to the second stunt. The rest would be eliminated.

Second stunt

The second stunt is meant to challenge the contestants mentally which can involve ingesting a revolting insect, such as a cockroach, or being covered in tarantulas. It could also involve getting close to an animal which many people would find intimidating. Contestants were typically not eliminated after this stunt unless they could not (or refused to) complete it. In the case of teams, one team may be eliminated for performing the worst.

In later episodes, a common (but not always used) rule was that no one would be eliminated after the second stunt, instead the contestant or team that performed the best would receive a prize, such as a vehicle or a prize package similar in value.

Third stunt

The third and final stunt is usually something from a action film. In order to avoid ties, it is the only stunt where the contestants race against the clock as well as each other. It usually involves doing an extreme type stunt, such as flipping a car or escaping from a sinking aircraft fuselage. The player who wins this round wins the prize, usually $50,000, and has the privilege of being informed "evidently fear is not a factor for you".

Other formats

Tournament of Champions

The second and third seasons concluded with a Tournament of Champions featuring the winners of each show in that season and a $100,000 grand prize.

In Season 2, the thirteen non-celebrity winners were divided into groups of eight men and five women. For the first two stunts, men competed amongst men and women competed amongst women, dividing the group from eight and five to four to two. The final four contestants, two men and two women, competed against each other for the grand prize.

In Season 3, the twenty-four winners were divided into two groups of twelve, each containing seven men and five women. In the first semifinal episode, the group was cut from twelve to six to three to two finalists. In the second semifinal episode, the group was cut from twelve to six in the first stunt, then the men competed amongst the men and the women competed amongst the women in the second stunt, and then the final four contestants, two men and two women, were cut to two finalists. Each finalist won a 2004 Mazda RX-8 and a chance at the $100,000. In the finals, the four finalists competed in three stunts. Each stunt eliminated one contestant, and the final stunt determined the winner.

Special episode formats

Naked Fear Factor (Season 2): The first "stunt" wasn't really a stunt at all. Six contestants, three male and three female, were required to strip naked and parade down a fashion style runway in front of over a hundred people for three minutes while photographers took pictures. All six successfully completed this stunt and moved on to the next round.

Four Stunt Show (Season 3): This was a 90-minute episode where four stunts instead of three were required to win the $50,000. This episode was notable for the stunt involving body piercing.

All-Gross Show (Season 3): All three stunts on this show followed the format of the second (gross) stunt as described above. The first stunt on this episode involved bobbing for objects in a vat containing 50 gallons of cow blood.

Las Vegas Show (Seasons 3-5): Stunts took place at various hotels and casinos in Las Vegas. The show's winner was required to bet at least half their winnings on one hand of Blackjack, with the chance to continue gambling if successful.

Second Chance (Season 4): Losing contestants from previous seasons come back for a second chance at winning $50,000.

Favorite Winners (Season 5): Winning contestants from previous seasons who lost in the Tournament of Champions come back for a chance at winning another $50,000.

Couples (Seasons 3-5): Four couples competed in three stunts, with the winning team dividing the prize and sending one player to the Tournament of Champions.

In Season 4, nine couples competed over seven weeks and 17 stunts for $1,000,000. Along the way, they competed for various other prizes, including $10,000, cars, vacations, credit cards, and a chance to steal a desired prize from another team. In Season 5, eight couples competed for the million dollar prize.

Twins (Season 4): Four pairs of twins competed in three stunts, with the winning team dividing the prize.

Best Friends (Season 5): Four pairs of best friends competed in three stunts, with the winning team dividing the prize.

Family (Seasons 4 and 6): Four teams of one parent and one child competed in three stunts for the prize. In the second stunt, the team with the best performance received a bonus prize such as a car or a vacation.

$1 Million (Season 4): Twelve contestants competed in six stunts. The one player who survived all six won a $1,000,000 annuity.

Models (Seasons 4 and 5): Played in the normal format with models or entirely female contestants. The fifth season had one episode with male and female models.

Fear Factor Super Bowl Halftime Show (Season 2): Played in the normal format with Playboy Playmates.

Miss USA (Seasons 3-5): Played in the normal format with Miss USA contestants, with the winning contestant keeping $25,000 and giving $25,000 to a charity of their choice. There was no Miss USA edition in the sixth season of Fear Factor, as NBC produced a Miss USA edition of Deal or No Deal instead; the Miss USA contestants were the briefcase models for the entire episode.

WWE Stars (Season 2): Six WWE stars played for $50,000 to donate to the charity of their choice. It was won by Matt Hardy.

Reality Stars (Seasons 5 and 6): Contestants from other reality shows, like The Amazing Race, Survivor, American Idol, The Apprentice, and The Real World, played for a grand prize and other bonus prizes such as cars and vacations. In Season Five, six contestants played for $50,000, and in the sixth season, five teams of two played for $150,000.

Military (Season 6): Contestants from the Air Force, the Army, the Marines and the Navy competed.

Psycho (Season 6): Contestants performed stunts which were centered around the Bates Motel on the set of the original Psycho horror movie from Paramount Pictures.

Newlyweds (Season 5): Four sets of Newlyweds came to compete for $50,000.

Home Invasion: This was included at the end of each episode in Season 6. It involved Joe Rogan going to different homes across America and challenging the family to compete in a stunt. Each stunt usually involved the contestants, under time limit, ingesting something foul or undesirable before receiving keys to open two safes, both containing $5,000 credit cards from Capital One.

International versions

  • The Netherlands was home to the original version of Fear Factor, Now or Neverland, which premiered in 1998 on the Veronica channel. The top prize is €100,000 per episode. The US show is set to run in the Netherlands as well.
  • In Brazil it was produced by TV Globo on two occasions: First, in 2002, as Hipertensão, with Zeca Camargo (who also hosts the Brazilian version of Survivor) as the host.
  • In the U.S., "Fear Factor" premiered in 2001 on NBC. It entered off-network syndication in 2004 by distributor NBC Universal Television Distribution, and left it in 2006. Reruns are now shown every weekday on cable's FX channel. Telemundo aired the USA version (dubbed in Spanish) as "Factor Miedo".
  • In the UK as well as broadcasting Fear Factor USA, Sky One decided to broadcast their own version Fear Factor UK. The nature of the stunts were similar to the US version, but the contestants were divided into two teams of three, who banked prize money according to their success or failure in the first two stunts. The winner of the third stunt took away the money they had banked (which could be up to £15,000) plus a £5,000 bonus (a max of £20,000).[3] The UK host is Peter Sanders, whose brother is Ed Sanders well known for being a builder in the US hit TV series Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
  • In Australia, the Nine Network broadcast a version of the show. It was similar to the American version, except that the contestants would initially compete for a place in a final instead of prize money. In the finals, they and other winning contestants would compete for AU$$50,000 (US$41,459). The host was Marc Yellin. Only two episodes were aired before the show was withdrawn from schedules.
  • In Poland, Polsat broadcast Fear Factor - Nieustraszeni. Three hundred people from all around Poland participated in the first stunt, ninety qualified for the second stunt, and five qualified for the final stunt. One contestant won 50,000 (US$21,720). The host was Roman Polko, a Polish army commander. Only one season was aired before the show was withdrawn from schedules.
  • The Middle East had its own version of Fear Factor which was broadcast on the MBC 1 channel.
  • In Malaysia on ntv7, which also currently airs the US version of Fear Factor, recently announced the creation of Fear Factor Malaysia. Out of over a thousand applicants, 78 successful candidates from all over Malaysia were picked to participate in it. Production for the 13-episode show is currently underway, with the launch at Sunway Lagoon Resort on August 27, 2005. The host of the show was Shamser Sidhu. The grand prize is RM10,000 (US$2,911). The show became a hit and it returned for a second season by the end of 2006.
  • In Indonesia, the local version, "Fear Factor Indonesia," airs on RCTI. The host of the show is Agatsya Kandau, a popular film actor. The grand prize is 50 Million Rupiahs (Rp50,000,000 [US$5,320]), not much by international standards.
  • In Mexico, the format is the same, except that stunts one and three are swapped, so they do the height/car stunt first, then the gross one, and the water/helicopter stunt last. The grand prize is Mex$150,000 (US$13,913). It airs on Televisa and is hosted by Julio Bracho.
  • In Sweden, Paolo Roberto, a Swedish boxer, was the host but the show never got any good ratings and was cancelled after only a few episodes on TV4. The US show is set to run on TV6.
  • In Finland, Finnish version of Fear Factor started on September 13, 2008. It aired on Nelonen and was hosted by Aleksi Valavuori. Despite being the Finnish Fear Factor, it was shot in Argentina. The grand prize is €10,000.
  • In France, Fear Factor was shown on TF1, but was withdrawn from schedules.[4]
  • In Belgium, the show airs on VTM and is hosted by Walter Grootaers.
  • Norway has its own version of the show on TV3.
  • South Africa had a version on M-Net. The second season is scheduled to air on e.tv with a top prize of R300,000 (US$36,883). The host is Thapelo Mokoena.[6]
  • In Hungary Fear Factor called A Rettegés Foka. It has started in 2005. The show aired two seasons on RTL Klub.
  • Bulgaria is airing a local version called 'СТРАХ" (Bulgarian for FEAR) on Nova Television every day from March 1 (2009) at 8:00 P.M. The winner gets 15 000лв (~7 000$) . The Americam Show Fear Factor airs on GTV every Sunday and Saturday at 8:00 p.m. Bulgarian host is Nikolay Mladenov.
  • In Romania, Pro TV acquired the rights to air their own version of the show.
  • TET in Ukraine has picked up the rights to the show for a local version.
  • In Portugal, Fear Factor - Desafio Total, on TVI, Presenter was Leonor Poeiras.

Criticism

Fear Factor has received criticism from the general public mainly because of the show's second stunt, which intends to disgust its viewers. More seriously, the American Humane Association expressed concerns for allowing animals and insects to get injured and even killing insects by eating them alive during the videotaping of the show. The association also revealed that professional animal trainers have refused to work on the show because the producers of Fear Factor have demanded stunts which violate the association's guidelines.

American Humane believes that shows like Fear Factor are on a slippery slope of animal mistreatment and provide poor examples of animal treatment and humane ethics. As we work diligently to expand voluntary compliance with animal safety guidelines, organisations like Endemol who blatantly demonstrate complete disregard for animal welfare — or even that of their human contestants — are producing unacceptable programming. — Karen Rosa (Communications Manager of AHA Film and TV Unit) [10] 

In January 2005, an episode featuring a stunt involving blended rats aired in its normal prime time slot. Austin Aitken, a part-time paralegal from Cleveland, sued NBC for $2.5 million USD for airing the show, claiming that he felt so disgusted from watching the stunt, his blood pressure rose until he felt dizzy and lightheaded and subsequently vomited. He claimed that his disorientation was so severe that he ran into a doorway and seriously injured himself. In March 2005, U.S. District Judge Lesley Wells threw out the lawsuit on the grounds of First Amendment protection.[11]

Fear Factor was also criticized by major U.S. electrical utilities for an episode that required contestants to climb through a simulated electrical substation with "electrified wires" replete with simulated sparks and electrical sounds added in post-processing. The Edison Electric Institute issued a warning regarding the episode, fearing that viewers might attempt to climb through a real substation with more fatal results.[12]

Spin-off products

Fear Factor has also resulted in various spin-off products:

  • A game called Fear Factor: Unleashed was by Hip Interactive for the Game Boy Advance.[13]
  • A board game called Fear Factor Game was published by Master Pieces.[14]
  • There are a few books based on Fear Factor, such as The Fear Factor Cookbook and Fear Factor Mad Libs.
  • Brand New Candy, LLC. makes several novelty candies that are based on Fear Factor, including eyeballs.
  • A Hindi reality show called Khatronke Khiladi (English: The players of Danger) based on Fear Factor was introduced in India. Its host was Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar

References

External links


Simple English

Fear Factor
Format Reality TV, Game Show
Starring Joe Rogan (Host)
Country of origin
No. of episodes 142
Production
Running time 60 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel NBC
Original run June 11 2001September 12 2006
External links
Official website

Fear Factor is an American stunt/dare reality game show. It was created by Endemol Netherlands. The program was first aired on June 11, 2001.

About show

The original Dutch version of the program was called Now or Neverland. When Endemol USA and NBC changed it to be shown in America in 2001, they changed the name to Fear Factor. Fear Factor has many different versions which are shown in different countries.

The program has contestants compete against each other in a series of stunts. The person who finishes better and/or quicker than all the other contestants gets a prize of US$50,000. For the first five years the program was made, the contestants were usually three men and three women. Each person played for themselves. In the sixth year, the show changed. They started using four teams of two people. The members of each team had some relationship with one another, for example Father-daughter, Husband-wife, or friends. Each team played for a shared prize of the same amount. Fear Factor is hosted by comedian Joe Rogan and executive produced by Matt Kunitz. The main music for the program is composed and written by Russ Landau. Other music used on the show is made from rhythmic themes most notably taken from the popular game Half-Life.

Fear Factor was an attempt by NBC to compete with the successful series, Survivor. The program was very popular for the network in the summer of 2001. It had strong ratings for the next couple of years, but in later years, the ratings were not as good. In 2006, Fear Factor was being shown at the same time as TV ratings champion, the Fox talent series American Idol on Tuesday nights. It did not get good ratings during this time. During the sixth season, NBC decided to not show the program for the rest of the year to make room for the sitcom Joey. That series was only shown for a few weeks. NBC canceled Fear Factor in May of 2006. The network began showing the remaining episodes of the sixth season on June 13, 2006. These episodes were shown throughout the summer. [1] In 2004, Fear Factor became the first network reality show to be syndicated. Over its six seasons, Fear Factor earned NBC a reported $600 million from selling advertising during the program.

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