I blame Bob Barker. Late last month, our famed (and maybe a little feared) assistant managing editor Kristen Baldwin forwarded me an invitation from the producers of a new game show called Temptation, a syndicated reboot of the classic TV game show Sale of the Century; they wanted one of EW’s Los Angeles-based writers to come down to their studio and host the show for a day. Kristen’s only further note/provocation to me: “Why did this make me think of you?”
Now, okay, Kristen had no way of knowing this, but I have secretly harbored a dream of stepping out onto the stage of, say, Jeopardy! and holding court for 30 minutes. More importantly, like most true Americans, I’ve been having a platonic love affair with Bob Barker for pretty much my entire natural life and was still in mourning over his departure from my television set. Even so, had I any firm purchase on my senses at all, there is absolutely no way I would have half-jokingly replied back that, sure, why not, I’ll do it — let alone freely suggest that we film the whole thing and post it on EW.com. But, in my defense, I was waist-deep in fall preview assignments at the time and, after the 15 minutes of e-mailing about this host-for-a-day story had passed, I really didn’t have time to give it a second thought.
And then, suddenly, I was on the phone with Rossi Morreale and Ginger Simpson, Temptation’s host and exec. producer respectively, trying my best not to panic a mere day before I was due to go before the cameras. Ms. Simpson made clear from the outset that I had to show up for my 8:30 a.m. call cleanly shaven and jewelry-free (apparently an issue with Mr. Morreale). “We have many viewers to please, and we don’t want to give them a reason to dislike you,” she explained. “You need to be a blank slate, but bring in the parts of your personality that work best for you. For Rossi, it’s his smile and his blue eyes.” Well, I’ve got eyes (and they’re blue!), and I do smile, so at least I was solid there. “You need to be welcoming to everybody,” Morreale chimed in. “It’s complete different than anything you would do in normal life, but, at the same time, [it’s] not being, like, Crazy Host Guy: [In a cheesy host voice] ‘Wellllllcome to the show!’ It’s simply, ‘Hey, I’m a normal guy, you guys are normal, let’s play a game!’”
I’m normal(ish). I like playing games. And, when pressed, I can even be welcoming! Hmm. Maybe this whole hosting thing wasn’t as hard as I’d feared. Nope. As you’ll see below (and only below, thank goodness, not on the air), it was much, much harder:
Speaking of Sale of the Century, check out this clip of a certain American Idol judge playing the British version of that game.