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Tuesday, 23 October, 2001, 13:18 GMT 14:18 UK
Reality TV show scrapped
Ben Affleck and Damon Albarn Courtesy of
Oscar-winners Affleck and Damon developed The Runner
The Runner, a highly-anticipated US reality TV show, has been shelved because producers feel the programme is not appropriate while the war on the Taleban continues.

The show was developed by actors Ben Affleck and Matt Damon but they have now been told by the ABC network the concept may not sit well with viewers.

It is our view that today's environment would not be conducive to this type of television event

Lloyd Braun, ABC
The programme would have seen a single person - the runner - attempting to make his or her way across the country pursued by members of the public enlisted as "agents" and television viewers, hoping to net a $1m (690,000) prize.

The Runner was originally set to debut next year and no decision has been made whether it will ever see the light of day.

'Exciting series'

"Unfortunately, it is our view that today's environment would not be conducive to this type of television event," said ABC Entertainment Television Group co-chairman Lloyd Braun.

"We have spent a great deal of time and effort developing what we feel is a totally unique and exciting series."

Tom Cruise
No fan mail is getting through to Tom Cruise
He added that the show could be filmed in the future, if circumstances "evolve in such a way that we'll eventually be comfortable moving forward".

At the launch of the series in July this year Ben Affleck said the show was very different from traditional reality TV.

'Spy experience'

He said: "It's not the kind of show that seeks to exploit people's conflicts with one another.

"Rather, what we thought was exciting about it was an opportunity on a grand scale to play this game, to live out this fantasy of being in a Le Carre novel, or living this sort of spy experience in a way that was fun and exciting."

As television stations get nervous about airing new shows which could be seen as upsetting or controversial in the wake of the US attacks, organisers of the Emmys are also being vigilant.

Mail sent to the Shubert Theatre in Los Angeles, where the event is due to be held on 4 November, will be redirected to another location over anthrax fears.

Precautionary measure

The awards show, honouring the television world, has twice been postponed because of the attacks on New York and Washington and the Afghanistan air strikes.

The chairman of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Bryce Zabel, said security was now being taken very seriously.

The decision to divert post to another venue to be opened until after the ceremony has been taken as a precautionary measure.

Meanwhile, fan mail sent to Hollywood's biggest stars is piling up over concerns of anthrax contamination.


Tom Cruise is just one celebrity who has put a stop to his mail being opened.

"For the time being, we are just not opening fan mail. Just to be careful, we are putting it off for now," said his publicist Pat Kingsley.

Some agents have hired specialist fan-mail services which deal with letters and send out photographs and autographs to fans.

Other letters have simply been returned to sender or left to pile up.

But the FBI said there is no specific threat against stars and no advisory has been given out to Hollywood.

See also:

25 Sep 01 | TV and Radio
All-star telethon raises $150m
29 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Good Will stars' fishy venture
22 Mar 01 | TV and Radio
US TV viewers face more reality
18 Oct 01 | TV and Radio
Emmys confirm new date
28 Feb 01 | Entertainment
$1m contest for Hollywood big break
15 Oct 01 | World
Anthrax fears shake world
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