Gladiators glad to be picked up

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Expect reality television to be more ripped, buffed, and chiseled for at least another season. NBC today announced that it has picked up the revamped American Gladiators for a second season.

The move shows the network's utmost confidence in the program, as only two episodes of American Gladiators have aired--the first coming just barely over a week ago. The debut of the series roped in big numbers for the network, putting up the highest rating for a new-series premiere this season, says NBC.

In the show, regular citizens take on a group of bodybuilders and jocks in a series of athletic challenges, such as jousting with oversized lances, taking on a glorified dunk tank where the target shoots back with tennis balls flying at over 100 miles-per-hour, and grappling in a sumo-style wrestling match that sees the playing field suspended in the air. Former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan and female boxer Laila Ali host the program.

NBC has not announced a premiere date for the next season, but it is currently looking for a new batch of contestants. As for any new changes to the format, executive producer Howard T. Owens did say that the second season will "introduce new challenges."

In a simultaneous announcement, MGM Studios, which owns the American Gladiators property, revealed plans to expand the franchise. Later this month, MGM will launch a new Web site dedicated to the original series, with clips, information, and a "Where are they now?" feature on the original beefcakes who served as Gladiators. MGM also has plans to put American Gladiators on the road, with a cross-country tour that will search for new contestants. And in the most puzzling piece of the announcement, MGM is also looking to create an animated series out of the franchise.

American Gladiators originally aired in the US from 1989 to 1996. The new version of the show features new special effects and "water skills."

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