NBC digging up celebs' family trees

Tue Mar 11, 2008 2:00am EDT
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By James Hibberd

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - If exploring the lives of celebrities seems a little tired, NBC has a solution: Find their relatives.

The network is developing an American version of the hit British series "Who Do You Think You Are," where stars are shown the oft-surprising details of their ancestors' lives.

In the UK version, the series uncovered backstories included tales of bigamy, wartime heroism and, in one case, attempted murder. Celebrity participants often are brought to tears as they learn about their relatives' hardships.

Producers are researching the family trees of several interested celebrity candidates to see whether they have compelling backgrounds (the network declined to name the candidates). Former "Friends" star Lisa Kudrow will serve as an executive producer.

Celebrity-based reality shows have been on the rise, fueled by the success of ABC's "Dancing With the Stars." NBC found success with "The Celebrity Apprentice" this season and has "Celebrity Circus," premiering this summer.

"Who Do You Think You Are," which launched in 2004, will air its fifth season on BBC1 this year. Its fourth-season premiere in the summer scored the show's highest rating ever, with 6.8 million viewers tuning in.

The show is credited with sparking an interest in genealogy among many BBC viewers. Last year, BBC Magazines began publishing Who Do You Think You Are? magazine, a monthly publication about tracing one's family tree. Versions of "Who Do You Think You Are" also are in production in Canada and Australia.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

<p>Lisa Kudrow poses at the premiere of "P.S. I Love You" in Hollywood, California, December 9, 2007. Kudrow will serve as an executive producer of NBC's American version of the hit British series "Who Do you Think You Are". REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>