Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fox's 'Utopia' Is Year-Long Social Experiment

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fox's 'Utopia' Is Year-Long Social Experiment

Article excerpt

Take "Big Brother," add a barn, subtract indoor plumbing and what do you have? Something like "Utopia," making its debut Sunday on Fox.

In the year-long "social experiment," based on a Dutch format, a diverse group of strangers is tasked with building a new society, minus electricity, running water or a ready food source, as cameras watch every move.

Viewers will have a chance to watch every move as well. "Utopia" is offering 24-hour live feeds (some free; more extensive and uncensored ones with a $5 monthly "passport") via computer and mobile apps. The live feeds are up and running now and have caught early controversy. One person has already been thrown off, and drunken squabbling has been reported.

Clearly, Fox won't be unhappy if its "Utopians" make news. But the network prefers to emphasize the social-experiment angle.

"Get ready to witness the birth of a brave new world," Fox gushes. "On the daring unscripted series 'Utopia,' 15 pioneering Americans wave goodbye for an entire year to the lives they've known, move to a remote location and set out to create a society from scratch. They've got limited supplies, wildly diverse backgrounds and zero bathrooms."

"Utopia," Fox continues, asks the question: "If you could restart the world, what would you do differently? What conflicts will emerge, what leaders will arise and what ideals will shape this new world?"

Will "the Utopians" choose "democracy or dictatorship? Capitalism or socialism? Fidelity or free love? Which religion, if any, will prevail? Will they punish or forgive? Keep or share?"

These 15 players, from 5,000 who applied, were announced for the "Utopia" community:

* Bella Chartrand, 45, real estate entrepreneur and naked yoga enthusiast.

* Andrea Cox, 38, vegan chef. (Cox was reportedly removed from the cast after she was caught using her cellphone.)

* Dave Green, 31, homeless ex-convict.

* Rob Hospidor, 38, security programmer, hunter and fisherman.

* Josh Johnston, 36, general contractor.

* Jonathan Lovelace, 44, minister and high school coach.

* Nikki Noce, 29, M.D. and holistic doctor.

* Bri Nyugen, 20, veterinary technician. …

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