Be Careful What You Wish For

Mark Cuban is enlisting the wisdom of crowds to generate original shows for his all-high-def channel HDNet. The brash billionaire began soliciting ideas for new shows on his Blog Maverick site in recent weeks out of frustration with the parade of knock-offs coming his way via traditional development methods.

“Ninety-nine percent of the time, the idea is derivative of something that has already been done, or something so obvious it’s an insult that they are pitching it,” he wrote in a post calling for fresh ideas. Cuban knows firsthand the limits of the imitation game. “The Benefactor,” his ABC reality show riff on “The Apprentice” a few years back, flamed out quickly.

Since his “Wanted-New TV Show Ideas” post, the HDNet chief has received some 955 pitches and counting. Among them:

>> “Luck Bastard,” a reality show that follows the lives of lottery winners.

>> “TranquilityTV,” “a channel dedicated to “stunning relaxation video with music.”

>> “American Family Treehouse,” spotlighting the construction of backyard treehouses.

>> "Screwed," which will tell the story of “a 20-something drywall screw salesman in the suburbs. Narrated from the point of view of an older, wiser guy looking back on the job and life.”

There are also more than a few not-so original suggestions, including “America’s Next Top Singer/Songwriter” and “redo ‘American Gladiator.’”

Cuban has promised to provide an update on the user-generated development process or note when a show has been picked up based on one of the ideas posted. So far, though, the outspoken entrepreneur has been uncharacteristically quiet on the quality of pitches he’s getting.

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