Remote Control’s Ken Ober dies at 52

If you’re under the age of 30, you’re probably not too familiar with Ken Ober or the classic MTV game show Remote Control. (Clip below.)

You can actually thank Remote Control in part for all the later music-free programming- it was the first item on MTV’s lineup to not be related to music. The premise (admittedly, a lot of this went over my head at the age of seven or eight, though I recall finding it hilarious) was that Ober, the host, wanted badly to host his own TV game show. Set up in his “mother’s basement,” the set had a rec room feel, with barcaloungers, sunburst clocks and retro light fixtures dangling over contestants heads. Adam Sandler, Denis Leary and Colin Quinn all appeared on the show regularly. In the intervening years (Remote Control’s aired from 1987-1990), Ober has worked behind the scenes on a variety of projects, including Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn (which was also excellent and underrated), The New Adventures of Old Christine, and Mind of Mencia.

A manager at Brillstein Entertainment Partners, who represented Ober for over 20 years, confirmed his death to press yesterday. Ober is reported to have been complaining about flu-like symptoms as late as Saturday, but cause of death is unknown. Ober is survived by his parents and a brother.