NBC may end up winning the Paula Abdul sweepstakes: The former "American Idol" judge is in talks with the network about joining a big new dance-themed series the network is putting together with Kenny Ortega ("This Is It").
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The Ortega project has quietly been in the works for several weeks now. The show's concept involves teams of contestants staging big, highly choreographed dance numbers — spectactular spectaculars, if you will — and possibly doing so in public spaces.
Ortega, who's the dancing feet behind both "High School Musical" and Michael Jackson's "This Is It," is executive producing the project, which is being targeted for a possible fall debut.
Abdul has been heavily courted since leaving "Idol." She came very close to signing with ABC for a revival of "Star Search," but dropped out last week.
Simon Cowell has also hinted he'd be interested in having Abdul judge his new Fox show "The X-Factor."
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The production company behind the big new dance show is 3 Ball Productions, one of the producers of NBC's megahit "The Biggest Loser." While the Ortega-Abdul show will involve big public dance numbers, it won't be a flash mob show, a person familiar with the pitch for the show told TheWrap.
"This is way beyond that," the source said. "This is enormous dance performance, far beyond what you'd expect to be able to do on television."
The project was actually pitched a couple months ago, with 3 Ball renting out a restaurant and staging a big production number for potential network buyers. Napoleon and Tabitha D'umo from "So You Think You Can Dance" helped choreograph the bit. And CAA, which is putting together the show, had several networks check out the pitch — but NBC jumped hardest. Network alternative chief Paul Telegdy liked the show's ability to stand out.
Abdul doesn't have a signed deal for the NBC project with Ortega, and given how her talks with ABC fell apart, she can't be considered on-board for this show until something's signed.
Nonetheless, NBC was excited about the project when only Ortega was involved, so it seems likely to move forward no matter what happens with Abdul.