Comedian Wanda Sykes’ latest venture is turning video from your smart home network into a TV show.\
The primetime Emmy winner and star of Netflix’s “The Upshaws” will host a show called “Ring Nation.” Produced by Big Fish Entertainment and Amazon-owned MGM and Ring, it will use footage from people’s doorbell and smart home cameras across the country.
Sure, this seems to be a creepy twist on hidden-camera shows like “You’ve Been Framed!” or “Punk’d” that have captivated audiences for decades – But it’s also a case of corporate synergy. Amazon forked over $1 billion to buy Ring in 2018 and paid nearly $8.5 billion this March to purchase the classic studio MGM. So Big Bezos is combining the two, hoping the camera technology responsible for some viral moments online (people stopping package thefts, marriage proposals, military reunions, or pranks caught on camera) can translate that interest into a TV show.
Engadget recently called the upcoming show “what happens when ‘America's Funniest Home Videos’ meets ‘Black Mirror,’” which is a pretty apt description.
“Ring Nation” will be executive produced by Ring CEO Jamie Siminoff. He will likely continue to keep a tight rein on the company’s portrayal in the show, especially given recent backlash over Ring’s relationship with law enforcement and its tendency to share users’ footage with cops without obtaining court orders.
Ring defended this practice and told dot.LA in June that “the law authorizes companies like Ring to provide information to government entities if the company believes that an emergency involving danger of death or serious physical injury to any person, such as a kidnapping or an attempted murder, requires disclosure without delay… Ring faithfully applies that legal standard.”
In an email statement, a Ring spokesperson told dot.LA it is only pulling from footage its users have already shared, noting, "'Ring Nation' features videos from a variety of sources, including home videos, Video doorbells, and Cameras. Many of these have been previously shared online. Others were sent directly to the team. Ring Nation secures permissions for each video from the owner and anyone identifiable in the video or from companies that hold the rights to the clips."
Deadline first reported the news and noted that in addition to Siminoff, executive producers of “Ring Nation” include Mark Burnett, Barry Poznick, Karni Baghdikian, Dan Cesareo, Lucilla D’Agostino, Bret Calvert and Jordana Starr.
“Wanda Sykes is one of the biggest names in comedy and beloved by fans across the globe. We are thrilled she has signed on to host this fun new take on a tried-and-true format,” Barry Poznick, president of alternative television & Orion TV at MGM, told Deadline Thursday.
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