Usher and Priyanka Chopra Jonas' new show 'The Activist' is changing after backlash

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Photo credit: Rich Fury/Getty Images for dcp, Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for iHeartMedia - Getty Images
Photo credit: Rich Fury/Getty Images for dcp, Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for iHeartMedia - Getty Images

Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Usher and Julianne Hough's new reality show The Activist is changing its format, following criticism after the series was first announced.

Featuring the three big names as judges, The Activist initially came under fire, with people calling it "dystopian" and comparing the series to an episode of Black Mirror.

The show had initially planned to pair contestants with famous faces as they competed in challenges to promote a chosen world cause, with actress and activist Jameela Jamil among those who originally criticised the upcoming series.

Now, CBS has announced that The Activist will be reimagined into a documentary special, in response to the criticism received. Plus, its original 22 October launch date is thought to have been delayed.

A statement from CBS, Global Citizen and Live Nation explained:

"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. The push for global change is not a competition and requires a global effort."

They went on to explain the new format, writing:

"As a result, we are chaining the format to remove the competitive elect and reimagining the concept into a primetime documentary special (air date to be announced). It will showcase the tireless work of six activists and the impact they have advocating for causes they deeply believe in. Each activist will be awarded a cash grant for the organisation of they choice, as was planned for the original show."

Global Citizen added in a separate statement, "Global activism centers on collaboration and cooperation, not competition. We apologize to the activists, hosts and the larger activist community - we got it wrong."

Priyanka Chopra Jonas also addressed the series' new format along with the criticism received, writing in an Instagram post, "The show got it wrong, and I'm sorry that my participation in it disappointed many of you."

The statements come after Julianne Hough shared an Instagram post responding to criticism surrounding the series, as well as saying she regrets wearing blackface in pictures which surfaced from 2013.

The show's initial format was set to see "six inspiring activists teamed with three high-profile public figures working together to bring meaningful change to one of three vitally important world causes: health, education, and environment," according to Deadline.

Meanwhile, broadcaster CBS previously set the scene for the series' initial format, writing:

"One thing seems more clear than ever: Planet Earth is a singular village, demanding if not relying on individual engagement. From the Global Citizen movement comes an awe-inspiring look at what can come of it. The Activist pairs advocates from the worlds of health, education, and the environment with famous figures in a series of competitions that’ll take the winners -- and their ideas for seismic world change -- to the G20 Summit in Italy."

Candidates' success in the competition was initially set to be measured via online engagement and social metrics, and potential viewers certainly didn't seem happy about the show's proposed format.

Photo credit: Jerritt Clark/WireImage, Rich Fury/Getty Images for dcp, Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for iHeartMedia - Getty Images
Photo credit: Jerritt Clark/WireImage, Rich Fury/Getty Images for dcp, Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for iHeartMedia - Getty Images

Jameela Jamil took to Twitter to voice her thoughts on The Activist's initial proposal, writing, "Couldn’t they just give the money it’s going to take to pay this UNBELIEVABLY expensive talent and make this show, directly to activist causes? Rather than turning activism into a game and then giving a fraction of the much needed money away in a “prize…?” People are dying."

Others joined Jameela in sharing their opinions on Twitter, calling the show initial description "dystopian" and sarcastically mocking how they foresaw the series playing out.

Well, reckon you'll be tuning in?

We have reached out to the presenters' reps for comment.

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