The Contender News
February 15, 2005
We were very saddened to learn this morning that Najai "Nitro" Turpin, one of the boxers to be featured on the upcoming Contender series, had committed suicide.
According to both NBC and Producer Mark Burnette the show will continue with no changes. All the bouts have already been filmed, except for the live finale. We have made the decision here to continue to cover the show as we normally would. We feel that is the best way to honor Mr. Turpin's accomplishments in and out of the ring.
We extend our deepest sympathies to Mr. Turpin's family and friends.
You can read RTVC Staff Writer Lisa Hepner's "In Memory Of Najai" here.
January 23, 2005
From the NBC site:
NBC has joined with Oscar nominee Sylvester Stallone ("Rocky"), executive producer Mark Burnett (NBC's "The Apprentice," "Survivor") and Jeffrey Katzenberg, Co-Principal, DreamWorks SKG for "The Contender," a new unscripted series about the search for the next boxing superstar.
"The Contender" will follow 16 aspiring boxers as they come to a training camp to follow their dream of becoming a champion boxer. The driving force behind the series will be the pursuit of the American dream and the natural trials, tribulations and heartbreak inherent in that quest. The canvas of the show gives viewers a first hand look into the real life hopes, triumphs and defeats of the contestants and how this single-minded, consuming commitment affects their families.
"This series will tell compelling dramatic unscripted stories as we watch these 16 men follow their dreams of being a Contender," said Burnett. "We're looking to reclaim a part of America that has been missing where are the Mohammad Alis? Where are the Sugar Ray Leonards?"
Stallone and international sports legend Sugar Ray Leonard will serve as both hosts and boxing mentors to this group of fighters as they each try to improve their skills in order rise to the rank of professional boxers.
"The Contender" is a joint production between Mark Burnett Productions, DreamWorks Television and Rogue Marble. Stallone, Burnett and Katzenberg are the executive producers.
May 19, 2004
NBC is going to directly target the FOX heavy weight franchise by going after American Idol 4. And the show they think can knock it out is Mark Burnett's boxing show, The Contender. NBC announced the show as a mid-season replacement for the Tuesday night at 8 e/p block. A straight shot at American Idol's January 2005 premiere. NBC may see the weakness that Idol is showing with the continued voting scandals that are upsetting fans of the show. NBC President Jeff Zucker says "With regards to American Idol, we're not gonna roll over as we have the past two years. We think that in The Contender, we have the next great unscripted drama," and "Mark is fully on board and is incredibly excited about the schedule."
May 10, 2004
We are happy to announce that, writer, speaker, and trained boxer Lisa Hepner is joining our writing staff. Lisa will be handling the recaps for The Contender. Lisa Hepner learned to box in 1995 and was trained by a former professional boxer.
Hepner is also a screenwriter and has written a female ROCKY movie titled “Moment of Truth” (previously titled “Against the Ropes”). You can contact Lisa at email@example.com.
May 7, 2004
The war of worlds continues before they step into the ring.
According to Scripps Howard Oscar De La Hoya rejected The Contender because it's a "tough-man contest," as opposed to real boxing. De La Hoya reportedly turned down NBC and Mark Burnett's offer to star in The Contender. He then began creation a similar show, to be called The Next Great Champ. De La Hoya says The Contender, is a "(glorified) tough-man contest" "It can be any person off the street -- it can't be real fighting. It takes talent to fight." "This is going to bring visibility to our sport and open some eyes. Our show is coming out in November and their show is coming out a little later. I think that there's enough pie out there for everyone."
March 25, 2004
Boxing Champion and grillmeister George Foreman has signed up for The Contender. NBC's in pre-production RTV series from executive producers Mark Burnett, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Sylvester Stallone. Foreman will help cast the 16 wannabe Rockys and serve as coach and trainer. Foreman joins Sugar Ray Leonard, who last week signed on to play the show's advisor/mentor.
March 15, 2004
Sugar Ray Leonard is joining Sylvester Stallone to work on the upcoming boxing Reality TV show, The Contender. According to Producer Mark Burnett, "aspiring contenders will have a once in a lifetime opportunity to train with and be mentored by one of the greatest champions of all time." The show has been picked up by NBC.
Others are in the making. George Foreman is in the initial stages of a boxing RTV show. MGM is shopping a series with the Rocky franchise name. Paramount is developing a series with Roy Jones, Jr. Variety reports that, "Don King may also be looking to jump into the fray, as may former champ Oscar De La Hoya."