‘American Gladiators’ May Be Making (Another) Comeback Thanks To Seth Rogen

Rogen is reportedly in talks to executive produce the second revival of the series.

american gladiators might be coming back
Todd Williamson/Invision for Producers Guild of America / AP Images

Rogen is reportedly in talks to executive produce the second revival of the series.

American Gladiators, the cheesy ’90s syndicated reality show that pitted ordinary Americans against pumped-up “gladiators” with names like Blaze and Nitro, may be making (another) comeback.

As Deadline reports, MGM, which owns the rights to the franchise, has been shopping it around, looking for someone to develop it again and then get it on the air. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are rumored to be executive producers, and John Ferraro, the show’s original producer, is rumored to be on board as well.

It also already has a Twitter account: @gladiators

Between 1989 and 1996, the original American Gladiators was the darling of the syndication world, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Syndication, for those not familiar, refers to the process of bypassing networks and selling a show directly to a local station, such as how Jeopardy!, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and others are distributed today.

So successful and lucrative was the original American Gladiators that other production companies tried to emulate it, with varying success.

The show was the perfect mix of cheese, showmanship, and legitimate competition. Combining elements of professional wrestling and regular, non-scripted sports, and introducing a concept that would inform later reality-TV shows such as American Ninja Warrior, Gladiators pitted ordinary Americans against pumped-up professional athletes in ridiculous feats of athleticism. Playing the role of “heel,” to use a wrestling term, the Gladiators often belittled the contestants and talked themselves up to the cameras.

By the way, if you’d like to take a look into reality TV’s past and watch reruns of the original show, you can do so if you have a Hulu or Amazon Prime account, according to Complex.

The show was brought back, however briefly, in 2008. At the time, there was a writers’ strike, and NBC, like all networks, needed original programming to put on the air. With Hulk Hogan and Laila Ali taking over hosting duties, the show brought in solid ratings for NBC — as solid as could be hoped for during a writer’s strike — though once the writers were back to work it was doomed. It aired for only 21 episodes over two seasons.

Meanwhile, American Gladiators isn’t the only syndicated reality show that may be looking for a comeback. A new incarnation of Mark Burnett’s Eco-Challenge, to be hosted by Bear Grylls, is in the pipeline. Similarly, Burnett, who also developed CBS’ runaway reality hit Survivor, recently put together a revival of the boxing series The Contender at MGM-owned Epix.