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CBS Changes 'The Activist' From Competition Series to Documentary

The Activist on CBS
(Image credit: CBS)

CBS is reworking The Activist after the concept’s competitive aspect was criticized by potential viewers. The show, initially envisioned as a competition series and scheduled for an Oct. 22 premiere, was set up to have six activists work to bring meaningful change to health, education or the environment. They would compete in missions, media stunts, digital campaigns and community events, and their performance would be measured via online engagement, social metrics and input from the hosts, Usher, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Julianne Hough. 

The Activist will instead be a primetime documentary special. 

CBS, Global Citizen and Live Nation are behind the show. 

The Activist was designed to show a wide audience the passion, long hours and ingenuity that activists put into changing the world, hopefully inspiring others to do the same,” said Global Citizen, CBS and Live Nation. “However, it has become apparent the format of the show as announced distracts from the vital work these incredible activists do in their communities every day. The push for global change is not a competition and requires a global effort.

“As a result, we are changing the format to remove the competitive element and reimagining the concept into a primetime documentary special (air date to be announced),” the producers continued. “It will showcase the tireless work of six activists and the impact they have advocating for causes they deeply believe in. Each activist will be awarded a cash grant for the organization of their choice, as was planned for the original show.”

Variety previously reported the Activist shift. 

“Activists and community leaders around the world work every day, often without fanfare, to advance protections for people, communities and our planet,” said CBS, Global Citizen and Live Nation. “We hope that by showcasing their work we will inspire more people to become more involved in addressing the world’s most pressing issues. We look forward to highlighting the mission and lives of each of these incredible people.”

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.