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America's Got Howie
January 14

It would appear that not only have 26 hot models with 26 equally hot briefcases, an omnipotent and omniscient banker, and a ubiquitous question has not only saved Howie Mandel's career, it may have saved a summer favorite - not to mention an entire network in dire straits - from going down the tubes.

Not too long ago, it was reported that David Hasselhoff was leaving the panel on NBC's "America's Got Talent" to pursue an as-of-yet reality show project. Hasselhoff graciously thanked the network that hired him four years ago (as gracious as can be expected with a press release). NBC did likewise, saying in so many words that while they don't agree with his decision to leave the show, they respect it. Funny thing, they never said anything about disagreeing, either.

Not too long after that comes a report from the Sun in the UK that says that Hasselhoff may or may not have had a choice in the matter. More to the point: he is not going to be fired, but his contract will not be renewed.

1) What happened to David? Well, on one hand, he has a reality show in the UK being prepped for him, and he's really gung-ho about it. You could buy that story. On the other hand, you could go to YouTube and punch in "David Hasselhoff" and "cheeseburger" and get back to me. Thank goodness KITT can drive itself. "America's Got Talent" is a top draw every summer. With that amount of exposure comes a lot of face to save.

Which brings rise to... question #2) Was this deal in the making for such an occasion, or did the25  suits at NBC really work THAT FAST? I'd like to think that no one in Hollywood... hell, no one in bureaucratic America... works that fast. Let's do a quick timeline.

- January 6: David Hasselhoff announces that he's leaving the show.
- January 10: Howie Mandel is announced as the new judge on America's Got Talent.

Oh, and did we mention that said deal came with a golden-handcuffs first look through Howie's shingle Alevy Productions? Just thought I'd point that out. This sort of thing doesn't happen out of nowhere. Or rather, I should say, it's highly unlikely that such a deal would take place without some serious hard-hitting negotiation. Now unnamed sources have said that this was in the works for a while. I'm inclined to believe them if only because of the sheer speed with which this is happening.

3) What does this mean for "America's Got Talent"? Well, for one, it means that Piers Morgan's officially the only one who's been there since the start. At that same token, he's the only one who's seen that the ratings have started to trend upward not just in volume, but in age. The question that has to be asked now is: will Howie, who comes with a built-in audience from his time on "Deal or No Deal", do what Nick Cannon couldn't? I mean, let's do a little comparison shopping. Regis Philbin, awesome... old. Jerry Springer, experienced... old. Nick Cannon came with both attitude during the audition phase and experience on both ends of the production spectrum... AND he was full of youthful exuberance and a swagger... both of which were neutered in the live phases of competition, leaving Nick as just a hollow version of himself. Granted, he was a first timer in the show, and it's very possible that he could shake the cobwebs off this summer, but Howie... he springs on "go".

4) What does this mean for "Deal or No Deal"? It's no secret that the show's been in a bit of a funk, and production has even closed down in Connecticut, in search of greener pastures elsewhere. Now "Deal or No Deal" has evolved from a network spectacle that would take eight hours (trust me on this) to finish one episode to a syndicated series where you can go wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am one season in two months, maybe four. Easy. It's very possible that "Deal or No Deal" could return next season. It's not hard for Howie to go from one show to the other. On the other hand, this could be an easy out for him if Endemol decides to fish or cut baits.

I can't say I have the answers to all of these questions, because I don't. This could mean many things, both good and bad.

One thing is certain, though. Come this summer, Howie Mandel will be sitting stage right on the judges' table of "America's Got Talent". And people will watch.

Game Show Alphabet Redux

We're up to "G". And recently, I've been watching the "Glee" Season 1 Volume 1 set (and yes, I'm not ashamed to admit it) and commercials for Time Warner Cable. Both of them featured one of my heroes growing up as a kid... Mike O'Malley. He hosted two shows for Nick, and of those two, the one I felt closer to was... "Get the Picture". It was also the first TV show that I saw with an international version, so... there you go. My pick for "G", "Get the Picture".

25 Days That Rocked the Game Show World: Day 20

By the time the 1970s rolled around, game shows have been a staple in television programming, as much as the drama and the sitcom. But in 1973, they would have their first outlet as a benchmark for greatness...

May 28, 1974: The First Annual Daytime Emmy Awards

The first Awards were broadcast in search of the greatest game show to air between March of 1973 and March of 1974, the first award show to do so. Peter Marshall of "The Hollywood Squares" hosted alongside Barbara Walters. His "Squares" would win for writing, while Marshall himself would take home a trophy for Outstanding Game Show Host.

But the big prize would go, ultimately... to "Password". It would repeat in 1982 with "Password Plus", a far cry from the 11 prizes that "Jeopardy!" has taken.

Chico Alexander needs four or five more guys to perform as the ultimate a cappella group on the next season. E-mail your demo tapes to chico@gameshownewsnet.com