What are those Russians up to now? A new reality show featuring contestants trying to survive nine months in harsh Siberia is reportedly insisting participants sign waivers regarding possible rape and murder.
All bets are apparently off when the 30 contestants — 15 men, 15 women —battle to be the last person standing in the upcoming “Game II: Winter.” The winner will collect the equivalent of $1.6 million.
“Each contestant gives consent that they could be maimed, even killed,” reads an advertisement for the reality show, which will be streamed lived online 24 hours a day as well as broadcast on TV, the Siberian Times reports. “Everything is allowed: fighting, alcohol, murder, rape, smoking, anything.”
With the waivers, 35-year-old program creator Yevgeny Pyatkovsky insisted to the newspaper that he will “refuse any claim of participants even if they were to be killed or raped.” But lawbreakers nevertheless risk arrest, program officials warned.
It’s unclear how reckless the program officials really are or whether the whole waiver policy is mostly a sales tactic to woo curious audiences to their computer screens and TVs to watch the program.
The setup is strikingly similar to “The Hunger Games” or episodes of the apocalyptic very-near future featured on the TV series “Black Mirror,” raising some skepticism that the whole idea could be more fiction than reality.
Everything is allowed: fighting, alcohol, murder, rape, smoking, anything.
“Is this a real thing? And if so do people get in trouble for harming other people? I’m interested,” wrote a Pennsylvania man on the program’s Facebook page, where most posts were in Russian.
Pyatkovsky, an entrepreneur known for creating a smartphone app that blocks calls from debt collects, told The Hollywood Reporter that the planned budget for the project is $6.5 million and that 350 people — including Americans — have already applied to participate. He said media reports that “everything is allowed, including rape and murder,” are a bit exaggerated.
“We will take every precautions, but we won’t be able to immediately react to every incident,” he said, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s all about survival, it will be a large and diverse group of people, and everything could happen within it, including violence. We won’t instigate it, but it’s the way life is.”
Under the rules of the extreme new game, which is set to begin July 1, contestants can have knives but not guns. They will be allowed to bring 220 pounds of equipment and will have to gather and store what food they can to help them get through an incredibly harsh Siberian winter, when temperatures can plunge to -40 F.
Participants will receive survival training from Russia’s former GRU Spetsnaz operatives, an elite special forces group, and can plead with viewers online each week, a la “The Hunger Games,” for one extra item. Fans can donate funds to purchase requested items on the program’s website.
Camera crews won’t be any help in the event of trouble. The action will be filmed by 2,000 cameras placed throughout the approximately 2,200 acres reserved for the program, according to Pyatkovsky. Participants will also have their own video cameras.
Bizarrely, NBC in 2013 launched — then scrapped — a scripted TV drama about a reality series called “Siberia” that featured 16 contestants in a dangerous supernatural wilderness. In the first episode, the participants are flown to Siberia. They are told they’ll win $500,000 if they can make it through a Siberian winter. Then all hell breaks lose.