As primetime viewers are well aware at this point, ABC's Summer Fun & Games programming block is in full swing, which can be said quite literally when it comes to the mini-golf series Holey Moley. Returning favorites like Celebrity Family Feud and Match Game have been joined by the newly revived Press Your Luck and Card Sharks, with Elizabeth Banks and Joel McHale hosting, respectively.
CinemaBlend reached out to the executive producers for the majority of ABC's big game shows – with To Tell the Truth also included with some of the aforementioned series – and I inquired about what makes for an ideal contestant in their minds, whether it'd be a celebrity or someone not as well-known. Let's run down what everybody's answers were, shall we?
Celebrity Family Feud
Over on Celebrity Family Feud, host Steve Harvey gets to spend time yukking it up with some of the biggest names in entertainment, who are sometimes accompanied by their closest (and silliest) family members. When it comes to what makes the best Family Feud guest, celeb or otherwise, executive producer Gaby Johnston wants people who aren't going to quietly clam up when the cameras are rolling. In her words:
We’re not Jeopardy, so the ideal guest is someone who is happy to leave their thinking cap at home and instead just let loose, have fun and enjoy themselves… because remember no matter how silly your answer is, 2 people probably said it and it’s going to be on the board.
Anybody who has watched Family Feud in recent years is more than familiar with watching Steve Harvey's face go from amused to completely befuddled after a contestant makes a completely random guess. Those are the kind of people that Gaby Johnston wants more of on the show, and I am in full agreement.
When it comes to former contestants that have whittled out a place in her memory banks, Gaby Johnston loves them all, but one celeb's appearance in particular has transcended the show to become an all-time great game show moment.
In terms of favorites, all of our guests are wonderful but Snoop Dogg’s ‘Pie in the… HORSE’ answer in Fast Money went down in Celebrity Family Feud history and scored millions of views on YouTube.
It's no surprise why Snoop Dogg is a go-to for some of these game shows, right? He's also the host of The Joker's Wild and has a weekly show with Martha Stewart. That's clearly the career path he was on back when "What's My Name?" came out in 1993.
Since 2016, ABC's updated Match Game has provided viewers with hundreds of laugh-out-loud moments, with many inspired by extroverted host Alec Baldwin. Each episode rounds up two contestants and tasks them with metaphorically linking their brains up with a panel of celebrities that sometimes get a little wild.
Match Game's executive producer Scott St. John definitely enjoys the laughs and the camaraderie shown by the famed guests, but he's not looking for the show to focus completely on the comedy, as he wants to see some money changing hands. In St. John's words:
On Match Game, the best celebrity guests are the ones who are ready to play and have some fun. They care about well they do, and most importantly, they care if they do well for our players. I love the folks who want to see our players take home some cash.
Perhaps if Match Game regularly regularly aired $5 million mega-tournaments, Scott St. John's ideas about money might change. But for now, he's interested in his show delivering a healthy dose of fun and success for its contestants.
To Tell the Truth
While To Tell the Truth may have black-ish star Anthony Anderson as a host, not to mention a weekly panel of famed celebrity panelists, the show's most interesting moments will often come from the revolving door of quirky contestants who try to be the most convincing person in the room. When it comes to To Tell the Truth's executive producer and showrunner Alycia Rossiter, she's looking for the most grand gestures from players.
Our show is truly a romp - the stakes are low and we want people to laugh and take risks. The ideal players tell a bold lie, or make a bold guess. Truth is not for the meek. After all, Mama Doris is there to call your bluff.
You do not want to mess with Anthony Anderson's mother, Mama Doris. No matter what you believe, she is the truth, plain and simple.
When it comes to the more memorable celebs that have passed through the panelist lineup, Alycia Rossiter shared a few choice selections.
Favorites? I am crazy for Joel McHale. And Rita Moreno. And Snoop Dogg. They are wise, quick-witted and daring. And they naturally celebrate the non-famous people for all of their accomplishments and quirks. And that is what our show is about.
"Joel McHale, Rita Moreno and Snoop Dogg all join a game show panel..." sounds like the beginning to a joke, though I'm sure it wouldn't be as amusing as watching Moreno and others mentally scramble to maneuver his trustworthiness. Considering Joel McHale spent years on The Soup pointing out the foibled quirks of reality TV, he's likely ideal to spin that talent in a positive way on To Tell the Truth.
Press Your Luck
Though there was that short-lived revival in 2002 that went ahead and put "Whammy" into the name of the show, Press Your Luck is best remembered as the syndicated 1980s hit hosted by Peter Tomarken. Now, Elizabeth Banks has taken over the hosting duties, but the whammies are still there to ruin everyone's day in a delightfully amusing fashion.
Unlike most of the other game shows in this block, Press Your Luck is all about random contestants who are largely responsible about attaining their own successes. As such, executive producer John Quinn is looking for the players who go above and beyond to try and make those successes happen. According to Quinn:
On Press Your Luck, we don’t have celebrities, but I will say that I love our contestants. It’s something about this game that turns everyday folks into serious risk takers. When the game gets a hold of you, it’s tough not to take big risks because the upside could be so huge!
The seeming randomness of the Press Your Luck game board – which was memorably figured out by 1984 contestant Michael Larson – makes each round a fun gamble for its contestants. And the only way to win big is to bet big, so John Quinn likely isn't looking for any timid souls to go seek out the big money on Press Your Luck. Maybe someone wearing a whammy suit, though...
Without a prior version of Holey Moley to look back upon for inspiration, executive producer Wes Dening and the rest of the creative team had to come up with concepts, courses and challenges from scratch. In the same vein, there weren't any standard boilerplate methods of seeking out contestants, considering the mini-golf element is a bit more specific than the general trivia of other game shows.
Here, Holey Moley's Wes Dening talks about bringing surprise celebrity guests into the sometimes surreal show. (This is a series where legendary smooth jazz saxophonist Kenny G came out as a form of distraction.) In Dening's words:
Our celebrity guests are fantastic and they know when they come to Holey Moley, they’re stepping into a world where mini-golf is EVERYTHING. Celebrity guests who just want to come and have fun, try and play a hole is magic for us! Having Stephen Curry on each episode is a thrill. He’s such an amazing person to work with and he loves golf more than anyone I know! He looks as comfortable with an iron in his hand as he does with a basketball. Our other celebrity guests who stopped by the course were all perfect and brought a wide range of skills (both comedic and sporting) to the course.
Wes Dening is also a huge fan of how Holey Moley is the rare game show where the two competing sides can be 50 years apart and from completely different locations and backgrounds, with the love of mini-golf as the main connective tissue. Having Steph Curry around during filming can't be a terrible thing, either.
Despite his love for all the contestants, Holey Moley EP Wes Dening bent the rules of the question a little to champion what he thinks are the true all-stars of the ABC game show.
It’s our two co-hosts, Rob Riggle & Joe Tessitore who I can’t get enough of. I could listen to them call miniature golf all day! They truly speak to the tone of the show. Joe calls every hole like it’s the Super Bowl, and Rob sees comedy in just about everything. Watching Joe try and keep a straight face next to Rob Riggle makes for some of my favorite moments in the show – and we just had to keep them in the cut.
He's got a point there. Imagine if other game shows employed the two-host rule, where one of them was more focused on tapping into the comedy. If Vanna White was tossing out some Wheel of Fortune zingers from her spot by the board, or if Alex Trebek had a hype man.
For everyone who needs more game shows in their lives, ABC has us all covered. Celebrity Family Feud and To Tell the Truth air on Sunday nights at 9:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. ET, respectively. Starting at 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday evenings, Press Your Luck, Card Sharks and Match Game air at the top of each successive hour. Thursdays, meanwhile, pair up the newest of the new shows, Holey Moley and Family Food Fight, airing in that order at 8:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. ET.