In a press release given from ABC, comedian and LEGO Batman star Will Arnett has been attached to host a new version of a controversial and outrageous talent/game show from the 1970s, The Gong Show.
“ABC has tapped into the nostalgia and excitement of primetime game shows,” said Rob Mills, senior vice president, Alternative Series, Specials & Late-Night Programming. “We are thrilled to add The Gong Show to ABC’s schedule spearheaded by the incomparable Will Arnett.”
Referencing The Gong Show as “televisions most irreverent talent show competition,” today’s press release states that new show will be executive produced by Will Arnett’s Electric Avenue Productions and will feature “un-traditionally talented, unique performers plucked from the internet and put on a primetime stage” being judged by a variety of Hollywood stars. Each act must try to make it through their entire act before being “gonged” by one of more of the celebrity guest judges. If the context sounds familiar, that is because NBC’s America’s Got Talent is a much classier version of this talent game show that replaces “X’s” with “gongs.”
“The comedy culture we are living in has finally caught up to The Gong Show, so the timing is perfect,” said Holly Jacobs, executive vice president, Reality and Syndication Programming for Sony Pictures Television. “We’ve found just the right partners to bring back this iconic original.”
Though ABC did not disclose on just when we will be able to see the new Gong Show, we do know that Sony Pictures Television is working on creating 10 episodes for the show’s first season. Bringing The Gong Show back to the airwaves is a move that will leave some to scratch their heads questioning why. However, after a successful run of four game show rivals ($100,000 Pyramid, To Tell the Truth, Match Game and Celebrity Family Feud) on the network, it’s not hard to see why ABC wouldn’t want to cash in another nostalgic show.
— TK (@tequila_kev) October 3, 2016
Celebrity Family Feud won the distinction of being the most-watched broadcast series on Sundays this past summer with more the 8 million viewers watching and the $100,000 Pyramid was the summer’s No. 1 new show of the season. Both Match Game and To Tell the Truth did will too with 6.5 million viewers and 5.2 million viewers respectively.
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According to TV.com, the original Gong Show aired for the first time on June 14, 1976 on NBC at 12:30 p.m., which some have considered the network’s “least important” time slot during that year. Each episode was hosted by the show’s creator, Chuck Barris, who initially didn’t want the job but became engulfed in the show’s culture along with recurring guest judges Jaye P. Morgan, Arte Johnson, and Jamie Farr. Initially, the judges could gong any act at any time, however, after a few episodes, Barry created the mandatory rule that no matter how bad the act was, the judges had to wait for a mandatory 45 seconds before they could gong. The act that received the highest score won the daily grand prize of $516.32.
The Gong Show faced much scrutiny as some of the acts were risqué or vulgar. The show was cancelled in 1978, due largely to a one act that was considered obscene. “The Popsicle Twins” featured an “act” where two teenage girls sat on the stage licking popsicles in a provocative fashion. That became the end of the show, however, a syndicated version of the show continued until 1980.
The Gong Show is coming back to primetime network TV, because everything old is new again https://t.co/FD92rEZ1vO
— Sean L. McCarthy (@thecomicscomic) October 3, 2016
In 1988, The Gong Show had its first revival that was hosted by Don Bleu, but was cancelled in less than 26 weeks. Another attempt, known as Extreme Gong, appeared on The Game Show Network in 1998. Its host was George Gray and the celebrity panel was replaced by a 1-900 number so those at home could weigh in on the acts. It too had a short shelf life.
What do you think? Is America ready for another Gong Show even if it hosted by Will Arnett?
[Featured Image by Eric Charbonneau/AP Images]