ESPN Orders High School Makeover Series, Tabs Kenny Chesney To Write Theme Song
ESPN has "ordered high school makeover show 'Rise Up' to series and the network has enlisted country music star Kenny Chesney to write the theme song for the franchise," according to Marisa Guthrie of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. "Rise Up," hosted by ESPN college football analyst Chris Spielman and DIY personality Deanne Bell, gives "needy high schools' athletic facilities a makeover." ESPN is currently "in production on new installments in Boston, Seattle, Chicago and Wellston, Ohio, while executives hope to expand the series to six yearly installments" in '12. The season premieres on Sept. 13 at 7:00pm ET with Wellston High School. Guthrie notes the show "comes at a time when the recession has sapped funding for public education making sports and extracurricular activities particularly vulnerable." The series is a "bit of a departure for ESPN, which has branched into documentary" TV, but so far has "stayed away from what could be categorized as reality television." ESPN's sales team is "busy lining up sponsors after EAS Sports Nutrition dropped out as presenting sponsor." Powerade is an associate sponsor and the network "expects to sign up apparel makers." The franchise "bowed with a backdoor pilot last fall" in New Orleans, and Xenith Helmets served as a sponsor for that show. "Rise Up" Exec Producer Joan Lynch said, "Apparel companies and equipment companies want to know: are you going to have my product in every episode? Which is a typical request and they should ask that question. But we don't know exactly what we're doing in each of the schools. So it becomes a little more complicated" (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 7/25).