Television executive Katy (Eva Mendes) develops what she hopes will become the most watched television show of all time, the ultimate game show called Live!, in which six contestants play Russian roulette with a revolver with six chambers loaded with one live cartridge and five dummy cartridges. During the show, after the cylinder is randomly turned, the six will fire the gun one by one pointed at their head, without intermediate extra turning of the cylinder, until one is killed. At first the idea is to give each of the six contestants $1,000,000, but while there are more applicants at the auditions than expected, they are suicidal people. This is not desired, the contestants should want to live; therefore the prize is raised to $5,000,000 each for the surviving contestants, while the family of the killed contestant does not get any prize.
As the TV executive struggles to overcome the challenges by the Federal Communications Commission, her network, and the show's advertisers, a documentary filmmaker (David Krumholtz) films every detail of her glamorous, high-powered life. The documentary filmmaker becomes involved in the making of the show by creating biographical segments about the contestants, who are Byron (Rob Brown), a young, struggling writer; Brad (Eric Lively), extreme sports star; Rick (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), a man who had to spend much on medical bills for his young son and is now trying to save his family's farm; Jewel (Katie Cassidy), an aspiring actress; Abalone (Monet Mazur), a former super model turned performance artist; and Pablo (Jay Hernandez), a young gay Mexican immigrant determined to help his family.
Jewel is first, Pablo next, both are unharmed. Next is Abalone; before pulling the trigger with the gun pointed at herself she does a performance in which she frightens others by pointing the gun at them; she is also unharmed, but plays falling dead. The fourth is Byron, also unharmed. Brad is fifth and kills himself. Katy is shocked and feels guilty, and goes to the bathroom to throw up. The body is quickly removed off-camera. Rick, who would be sixth, wins the prize without having to pull the trigger. After that, during the after-show press gang, a man comes forward with another gun and kills Katy. The network claims the murder is unrelated to the theme of the show. Apart from the murder the show is a success. It has become an annual broadcast.