GENE SIMMONS' 'Rock School' Reality Show To Air On VH1

April 8, 2005

Variety is reporting that VH1 has partnered with British reality shop RDF Media ("Wife Swap") for "Rock School", ordering six episodes that take the premise of the Jack Black film "School of Rock" to the small screen.

RDF just wrapped production on the skein for the U.K.'s Channel 4 — which has already greenlit two cycles — with KISS bass player Gene Simmons educating the classically trained pupils of Christ's Hospital in Horsham, Surrey, on the ways of rock.

VH1 will reformat those episodes for American auds, stocking them with new music and additional KISS footage from the MTV Networks library in time for a late spring/early summer premiere.

Joe Houlihan, prexy of RDF's U.S. operation, says the series shows a softer side of Simmons, who has recently popped up on primetime in "The Apprentice" and as a guest judge for "American Idol".

"Gene was genuinely interested in transforming the troupe of pre-teens into a rough-round-the-edges rock band," Houlihan said. Simmons was a primary schoolteacher before he formed KISS in 1972.

"We've been kicking this idea around for a few years," Houlihan continued. "With the Jack Black film becoming a big hit, we feel like the timing couldn't be better."

VH1 is already talking to RDF about possible artists and themes for future editions, but no deals are in place.

Execs were sold on the culture clash at the series' core, said VH1 executive VP Michael Hirschorn.

In the first episode, Simmons pulls up in a limousine — and the boarding school kids promptly refer to him as "arrogant" and "middle-aged."

"The cultural byplay between this American rock star and these plum English kids is really quite funny," he said.

"It's sort of the trifecta for us," Hirschorn added. "It fits nicely into our Celebreality niche. It's also clearly a musicshow. And it's got this great multigenerational appeal."

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