CBS Is Turning Its Activism Competition Series Into an Activism Non-Competition Documentary

Photo: Amy Sussman/Getty Images

Never mind! CBS and producing partners Global Citizen and Live Nation have decided that maybe a competition show about who can do activism the best wasn’t such a hot idea. The announcement of celebrity judges Usher, Julianne Hough, and Priyanka Chopra Jonas for competition show The Activist was met with criticism. “I’m confused: Is this an advanced Marxist critique to expose how competition for money and attention pits activists against each other + undermines deep change?” tweeted The Shock Doctrine author Naomi Klein. “Or just the end of the world?” Julianne Hough accepted the criticism, posting on Instagram September 14 that she was “deeply listening with an open heart and mind.”

CBS is also deeply listening, and is completely retooling the show to be a “primetime documentary special.” The three producing partners released a joint statement acknowledging the reaction The Activist engendered: “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. 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.” Although footage for the competition version of the show has already been filmed, this new doc version will be beginning from scratch.

In a separate statement, Global Citizen put it bluntly: “Global activism centers on collaboration and cooperation, not competition. We apologize to the activists, hosts, and the larger activist community — we got it wrong.”

CBS Is Changing The Activist Into a Non-Competitive Doc