NBC Runs Off to the 'Circus'

Send in the clowns: NBC has picked up a series that will put a group of celebrities into the world of professions circus performers.

The aptly titled "Celebrity Circus" is scheduled for a summer premiere and is one of several circus concepts circulating around the broadcast networks. It's based on a format that's already had ratings success in other countries and will be produced by Endemol USA, the company behind "Deal or No Deal" and "Big Brother."

"This show will draw our favorite celebrities out of their comfort zone and into a stunning and magical circus environment that allows them to showcase their unseen skills," says Craig Plestis, NBC's head of alternative programming. "It's a fresh concept from our friends at Endemol and is unlike anything else currently in the TV landscape."

"Celebrity Circus" will be a competition show that will take famous (or semi-famous, given the way these shows tend to go) folks and have them train and perform with "avant garde professional circus troupes" -- think "Dancing with the Stars" meets Cirque du Soleil. Other details are fuzzy, save for the fact that professional circus performers will judge the celebs on their work.

While NBC is first out of the gate with its circus show, the tent may soon get much more crowded. ABC is looking to relaunch the 1970s and '80s format "Circus of the Stars," Variety reports, and CBS and FOX are interested in circus concepts as well. None of the other networks has finalized a deal.