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Pursuing Trivia So I Can Be Smarter Than a 5th Grader
August 26

Also available as a podcast. Click to listen!

We start this week with the official announcement that Christopher Knight, a/k/a Peter Brady and Mr. Adrienne Curry, is the host of "Trivial Pursuit: America Plays". "I've always been a Trivial Pursuit fan and I can really see TV audiences becoming obsessed with this addictive format," Knight said in a statement reported in Broadcasting and Cable. "Once you start it’s hard to stop, and I think viewers’ fascination with pop culture will keep them coming back for more. Or they can tune in and be bathed in my boyish enthusiasm."

I am not so sure about that. If you remember...the pilot which was leaked on YouTube was host by Mark L. Walberg. Since he is busy with "The Moment of Truth", he wasn’t able to fit it into his schedule. And the producers basically got another D-List Celeb who has NEVER hosted a traditional episodic-form in-set game show before. This does not bode well for the show. I will give him a chance, but I am not hopeful.

The 2nd announcement was the most open secret in Hollywood. "Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader" is being prepped to go into syndication. The Hollywood Reporter has reported that 20th Century Fox and Mark Burnett Productions are THIS CLOSE to an official announcement that a syndicated version of the hit Fox Show will be shopped for a Fall 2009 premiere.

I have mixed emotions about this. While I am happy that another game show is being pushed into the syndication market...this particular show has always been a thorn in my side. Along with Game Show News Net, this column reported in February of 2007 about the rampant cheating in the audition process of the first class of fifth well as this quote from the end of the show: "Members of the class were provided with workbooks that covered grade school level material in a variety of subjects. Some of the material could have formed the basis of questions used by producers in the show." Translation: They allow the kids to cheat.

So I have a lot of problems with the success of this show. Is this lone wolf in the wind going to stop the "5th Grader" juggernaut? Probably not. But if you support this show...know that you support a show that supports cheating. If you can handle that, go for it. I can’t.

Another announcement was that "My Family's Got Guts" will debut on September 15 on Nickelodeon. The host: is Ben Lyons, who is also the new host of "At The Movies" and the son of famed movie critic Jeffrey Lyons. The Orlando Sentinel reported about the 20 episodes being taped through August 16th at Universal Studios. "This show was so special to a lot of kids growing up, and now they're bringing it back," said host Ben Lyons. "I think that's really cool."

One 10-episode tournament will air in the fall, and a second 10-episode tournament will air early next year. If more episodes are ordered, Executive Producer Albie Hecht said he hoped to make them in Central Florida.

"Game shows are our legacy, and we had a lot of success with 'GUTS,' " said Marjorie Cohn, executive vice president of original programming and development for Nickelodeon Networks. "This felt like this a generation of parents who grew up watching the show potentially. And wouldn't it be fun for them to be able to compete with their kids? It feels like the timing is right."

This one looks like a major hit for Nickelodeon. This was a staple for kids growing up in the 1990's. It launched the career of Mike O’Malley and was one of the best examples of the Nickelodeon game shows of that era. I think lightning will strike twice here. They are also being smart in spacing the 20 episodes in two 10 show blocks. That will keep the viewers interested.

Let’s go from Hosts to producers: And the big news was that Nigel Lythgoe, president of 19 Entertainment and Executive Producer of American Idol, is stepping back a bit from duties on American Idol to concentrate on "So You Think You Can Dance".

Lythgoe is a judge on the Fox Smash here in the United States. And, according to TV Week, he is going to South Africa to help launch a version there. Auditions have happened and the show premiered August 9th on SABC-1. He is also rumored to be involved with the Australian Version which will premiere in 2009.

So, people are jumping to the conclusion that he is going to step away from the show altogether. Until we hear an official announcement from Fox...any other information is speculation. But, it wouldn’t surprise me if he did. "Dance" is becoming a legit summer staple, and with "Idol" showing a bit of age...keeping it in the hands of Ken Warwick wouldn’t be a bad idea.

The TPIR circus continues. "The Price Is Right" has signed Mike Richards as co-exec producer.

Variety reports that Richards, who was the emcee of CW reality skein "Beauty and the Geek", was also considered for the host position after Bob Barker retired in June 2007. Richards also hosted "Dailies," a weekday program on ReelzChannel that covers the entertainment business, and also produced "The Weakest Link" and "The Family Television Awards."

In other TPIR news...did anyone see the ET interview where Drew Carey was trying to spin the $30,000 mistake into something that was "the greatest thing ever"? Ok, Drew I know you are trying to give the company line, but wow.....

And finally...Bob Barker had some of the charges dismissed against him in a wrongful termination suit. According to the AP, Deborah Curling, a former production assistant, sued Barker, CBS and production company FremantleMedia North America in October, claiming she faced retaliation after testifying against Barker in another wrongful termination lawsuit.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Malcolm H. Mackey tentatively dismissed several claims against Barker on Wednesday, saying he could not be sued for wrongful termination because he was not her employer. There could be some charges on the complaint that could be amended to prove Barker inflicted emotional distress...but I honestly don’t see that happening. Barker is in the clear...again.

Random Newsbits:

–The Price is Right is holding a model search in Dallas.

–Hunter Ellis of "Survivor" hosts "In Harm’s Way" on September 21 on the CW.

–John McCain and Barack Obama taped fake campaign ads for the Season Finale of Last Comic Standing. They will not be as funny as Paris Hilton.

–Donny Osmond is rumored to be on the latest UK edition of "I’m A Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!"

– is launched with prizes!

–Daniel McPherson replaces Daryl Somers on the Australian version of "Dancing With The Stars".

–Kelly Knox, who was born without a forearm, wins "Britain’s Missing Top Model". And Ireland gets their own version of the "Top Model" franchise.

And a final plug for me. Please check out my interview with Peter Marshall on It was done to coincide with the $250,000 Game Show Spectacular which has concluded it’s run.

That’s all for now. This is Jason Block for the Block Party Podcast reminding you...knowing is half the battle...and don’t just play to win!

Jason Block has got guts. E-mail him at