June 26, 2004 -- STEPPING squarely into the high-stakes game of chicken that is reality TV, Fox Television Studios is risking war with one of the genre's hottest producers, Mark Burnett, over rival music shows.
Fox Television Studios has clinched a deal with the R&B group TLC for an unscripted series, according to sources.
The show would feature contestants competing to replace Lisa Lopes, who was killed in a car crash in 2002. The winner would join the surviving members, Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins and Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas.
But Burnett, of CBS's hit unscripted series "Survivor," has his own tragedy-stricken group, which also needs headhunting help.
On Wednesday, CBS announced a deal with the producer to pick up his new reality series, "Rock Star," which promises to find a lead singer for '80s band INXS, whose frontman, Michael Hutchence, died in 1997. "Rock Star" will debut in the summer of 2005.
Burnett has dismissed the TLC project as the latest attempt to duplicate one of his efforts. He said that his NBC smash "The Apprentice" is spawning imitations from Fox (with billionaire Richard Branson) and ABC (with Dallas Mavericks owner and billionaire Mark Cuban) — and that his coming NBC boxing series with Sylvester Stallone, "The Contender," is inspiring a Fox effort tentatively titled "The Next Great Boxing Champ."
"It just makes me laugh," Burnett said of the TLC project. "All I can do is do good work."
Fox Television Studios declined to comment.
In addition to the flap over the rival boxing series, Burnett had a tense relationship with Fox over the editing of his summer reality series, "The Casino." — Los Angeles Times