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'Name That Tune'


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CBS Sings New 'Tune'

by Josef Adalian


Donny Osmond

CBS and Planet Grande Prods. are mounting a new take on "Name That Tune," with Donny Osmond on board to host. The latest incarnation of the quizzer classic will be a hybrid, combining elements of game and variety formats.

In addition to the familiar song-guessing game, the series will incorporate live musical performances from well-known artists and a bonus round in which players can win $1 million. CBS has ordered a pilot to be taped in December, with a decision on a series order expected quickly thereafter.

The new 'Tune' began to take shape when rightsholder Sandy Frank talked to production companies about reviving the brand. He brought in Planet Grande's John Watkin and Eamon Harrington.

"Sandy wanted an infusion of new energy and ideas. He met with a lot of people and liked our take," Watkin said. In addition to Watkin and Harrington, Panacea Entertainment's Eric Gardner will produce.

The new "Tune" is meant to appeal to several generations of viewers, featuring songs from various eras. While the format is still being finalized, it's expected teams of two people from different age groups -- fathers and sons, aunts and nephews -- will compete.

"It increases the variety of music we can do," Osmond said. "We can go from Sinatra to hip-hop to everything in-between." Producers are also keen on introducing the element of surprise into the show by having mystery guests appear mid-show to sing a song once a contestant correctly names that tune.

In addition, the final segment of each show will give players the chance to score $1 million if they can name 15 songs in 60 seconds -- a concept they're tagging "the million-dollar minute." Watkin said, "I want the show to have the fun and spontaneity of 'American Idol' and marry that with the edge-of-your-seat (feeling) you get in 'Deal or No Deal.'"

"Name That Tune" first appeared on TV in the 1950s, with revivals in the 1970s and 1980s. Various versions of the series have aired on NBC, CBS and in syndication, while VH1 mounted the short-lived "Name That Video" in 2001. Producer Phil Gurin also flirted with a "Tune" revival back in 2001, planning a take that would blend musical performances with the game show format.

Osmond, who hosted Sony's revival of "Pyramid," is currently on Broadway playing Gaston in "Beauty and the Beast." He's also working on his 55th album, which is set to be released in March. In addition, R2 Entertainment next month is set to release a DVD box set of episodes from "The Donny & Marie Show."

Malibu-based Planet Grande produced the high-rated "Andy Griffith Show Reunion Special" for CBS, along with GSN's "World Series of Blackjack" and HBO's "Freshman Year." The project is packaged by the William Morris Agency.

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