Reality guru Burnett ready for martial arts combat

Producer Mark Burnett addresses the audience about the upcoming Shrek III film during announcements by AOL regarding their 2007-2008 lineup in New York April 17, 2007. Burnett is developing a primetime series involving the bone-crunching sport of mixed martial arts. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Reality producer Mark Burnett is developing a primetime series involving the bone-crunching sport of mixed martial arts.

The man behind “Survivor” and “The Apprentice” has teamed with ProElite, which organizes professional MMA events, to produce the project, according to a recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Mixed martial arts is a less violent and more complex version of ultimate fighting, a sport that emerged in the early ‘90s. It showcases a unique mix of judo, karate, tae kwon do, jujutsu, wrestling, boxing and other established fighting techniques. MMA is still controversial, and events have been approved in fewer than half of U.S states.

ProElite, which produces professional MMA events through its EliteXC division and runs the MMA social networking site, already has a presence on television. Showtime has been carrying live EliteXC matches since February, when the premium cable network made an investment in the company and signed an exclusive programming agreement.

Burnett, a former British commando, is said to be fascinated with martial arts and the martial arts culture. He previously took a stab at developing a martial arts reality series in 2002.

Two years ago, through a joint venture with DreamWorks, he produced U.S. network NBC’s boxing-themed reality series “The Contender”. In addition to producing the show, the joint venture company received an equity stake in boxing brand Everlast and organized the “Contender” finale at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter