February 22nd, 2010
08:35 AM ET
Remember "Our Little Genius"?
This was the Fox game show featuring child geniuses answering questions on specialty subjects. Fox was expected to premiere the show in January, but the network pulled the show a week before its premiere, after series creator Mark Burnett expressed concerns over, in his words, "How some information was relayed to contestants during pre-production."
Now, the New York Times is reporting that the Federal Communications Commission is investigating whether "Our Little Genius" provided potential contestants with answers to some questions before taping.
According to the newspaper, the parent of one potential contestant wrote a letter to the FCC, alleging that a member of the show's production staff provided the child and his parents with potential topics that may come up during the taping, as well as the names of four musical notes that the staff member said the child "needed to know."
Under the Communications Act of 1934, it is illegal to provide contestants "in a purportedly bona fide contest of intellectual knowledge or intellectual skill" any assistance that would result in the contest's outcome being rigged.
The FCC generally does not discuss such investigations, so it is likely we won't hear anything unless a ruling is made or the probe is scrapped.
The report brings to mind the quiz show scandals of the 1950s, where contestants from several popular shows, including "Twenty-One" and "Dotto," were secretly given answers from producers. That led to Congressional hearings on the legitimacy of such shows, as well as the downfall of the "big money" quiz show genre.
What do you think of these new allegations against "Our Little Genius"? Could this lead to a greater probe of the game and "reality competition" genres, or will it be much ado about nothing?
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