US version of 'I'm a Celeb' gets go-ahead

NEW YORK - A US version of 'I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!' has been given the go-ahead and will begin airing in February following a deal between Granada and ABC.

The Disney-owned US network ABC has bought 15 episodes of the reality TV show, which proved a massive hit for ITV in the UK.

Producers have already begun searching for eight celebrities to take part in the series, which will be broadcast over 15 consecutive nights. Pamela Anderson's name has already being mentioned as one of the possible stars of the show, with Mike Tyson being another.

Earlier this week, Granada was reported to be close to signing a £10m deal. Former BBC Radio 1 DJ Tony Blackburn won the UK version of the show, beating "it" girl Tara Palmer Tompkinson to the prize.

Struggling ABC is hoping that the show will help revive its flagging ratings. ABC has previously bought 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?' from the UK.

Earlier this week, ABC announced plans to premiere seven new shows this autumn, making up more than 40% of its schedule of entertainment series for the 2002-2003 season.

"We just need to start the season and see where we've got some traction and look at the air as fluid," Susan Lyne, who became ABC's new president of entertainment in January, said. "We need to see if we can stop that downward trend and start moving the needle a little in the other direction."

Last season, ABC finished behind CBS and NBC in overall viewership, and behind CBS, NBC and Fox among the 18- to 49-year-old viewers most sought after by advertisers.

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