Stallone's 'Contender' Ready to Fight

02/23/2004 AT 12:10 PM EST

NBC is ready to get in the ring with Sylvester Stallone, whose new boxing-meets-reality-TV concept "The Contender" has been picked up for a knockout price.

The show, sort of a modern-day gladiator matchup, features two amateur boxers going head-to-head à la Stallone's 1976 Oscar winner "Rocky." The two fighters, selected from a national search, will match wits and fists at the end of an hourlong drama that chronicles each one's background and story.

The concept, which was floated by Stallone, "Survivor" producer Mark Burnett and DreamWorks honcho Jeffrey Katzenberg, was snapped up on Friday by NBC for reportedly more than $2 million per episode, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The network evidently thinks this production team has the talent to back it up. Burnett's "Survivor" is as popular as ever in its latest "All-Star" edition for CBS, while his new show, "The Apprentice," is proving a top draw for young professional viewers on NBC.

"The Contender" has been billed as the "search for the real Rocky," although it remains to be seen whether prime-time boxing can enjoy the same longevity that the "Rocky" film series had.

But Burnett hopes the show can return audiences to a time when boxing enjoyed a more respectable and prominent place with American sports fans, and when many people could identify the heavyweight champion. "We're looking to reclaim a part of America that's been missing," he tells the trade paper Variety.

From Our Partners