Perhaps it was only a matter of time before television producers and documentary filmmakers aimed their cameras at what some New York City parents consider a real life version of "Survivor" - getting their children into private schools.
While there are no indigenous bugs or barbecued rats on the path to victory, parents on the island of Manhattan do go to extremes while trying to insure their children get spots at the city's top schools.
Competing film crews are swooping in to document such extremes in a world where some parents pay advisers thousands of dollars to write essays to get their 3-year-olds into preschool - and then pay upward of $30,000 a year in tuition to keep them there.
A British company, Touch Productions, is working on a two-hour special for the Discovery Channel about getting children into top city kindergartens, high schools, and then Ivy League colleges.
Another filmmaker, Marc Simon, is putting together a documentary about preschool admissions. After writing and producing "After Innocence," a film that followed the cases of men wrongly convicted of murder and rape who were exonerated years later by DNA evidence, Mr. Simon decided to work on another kind of film.
"I hope that my project will bring perspective to the overall importance of education in New York City and beyond," Mr. Simon said about his interest in documenting the path to admission at city private schools.
So far, few of the filmmakers have had success gaining access to the city's elite private schools, which are notoriously tight-lipped about what goes on within their halls.
Many of the filmmakers appear to be just as protective about their projects and declined to say more than a few words about their plans.
"This is a microcosm of what's going on in New York right now," the founder of the Manhattan Private School Advisors, Amanda Uhry, said. "In the '80s it was how to get into the most exclusive health club - now it's what exclusive school can you get your kid into."
The city's elite public schools aren't immune either. The filmmaker Caroline Suh just finished taping a feature-length documentary at Stuyvesant High School about the charged student union elections. Ms. Suh said she hopes the film will be a mini-version of "The War Room," a documentary about the behind-the-scenes spin-doctoring during the 1992 campaign for President Clinton.
Three filmmakers have already contacted Ms. Uhry about interviews for pieces on the admissions process. The producers of the Oscar-nominated documentary "Murderball," about quadriplegics who play rugby in wheelchairs and compete in the Paralympic Games in Greece, have also contacted her about a potential film.
A former television news reporter turned "dog sexpert," Sheryl Matthys, is putting together a 30-minute piece called "Subway Baby." She got the idea after she gave birth to her now 2-year-old son and had to learn how to navigate the subway and city with a child in tow. After interviewing a slew of mothers for the piece, she realized the one topic on everybody's mind wasn't how to get a Bugaboo stroller onto the 4 train, but how to get a toddler into the right school. "As moms, we're hearing so much of what pressure there is to get your children accepted," Ms. Matthys said.
A native of South Bend, Ind., Ms. Matthys said that if her mother knew what she was going to have to go through to get her son into school, "She would just be like, 'I told you so. Move out of there!'"
The stressed-out parents' stressful application process also will be documented in a film by the author of "The Manhattan Family Guide to Private and Selective Public Schools," Victoria Goldman, who has teamed up with an independent filmmaker, Pamela French. In "Keepers," the filmmakers aspire to show that the parents are really coping with their own social aspirations.
Reality television crews that have already tapped into California schools with shows like "Laguna Beach" - which follows a clique of tanned blondes as they shop and date - have now turned an eye to New York.
Earlier this year it was reported that York Preparatory School on the Upper West Side was to offer itself up to CBS for a reality television series. The show was to center around a group of students at the $26,000 a year school whose graduates include Liv Tyler. The deal apparently never made it past the casting stage, a spokesman at CBS said.
Instead, VH1 swooped in with rapper Ice-T to film a reality television series at the school. The series revolves around the star teaching a small group of mostly white seventh- and eighth-graders how to rap. As a final project, the students had to open at B.B. King's for the seminal hip-hop group Public Enemy, known for its politically charged lyrics. The series, "Ice-T's Rap School," will air in September.