By the mid-seventies, the game show genre was experiencing a revival of sorts, “The Price Is Right”, “Match Game” and others from Goodman/Todman Productions seemed to be putting the niche back on the map but they were still playing it rather safe.
“Infamous game show producer Chuck Barris and variety show producer Chris Bearde (“The Sonny And Cher Comedy Hour”) were working on the “The Bobby Vinton Show” for syndication when they sold ABC on the idea of a daily talent / game show. The acts featured would be both the best and worst they could find, with an emphasis on the bad. The NBC version actually beat the syndicated version on the air by several months and the audience took an immediate liking to the unlikely game host.”
Chuck Barris actually recast himself as the prime time host by firing Gary Owens and buying out Chris Bearde. Gary Owens was upset by his ousting: “You were working at a disadvantage, doing a show the producer wanted to do himself.”
Mugs, t-shirts, bumper stickers, a best-selling book and even a major motion picture release. The Gong Show made 70’s icons out of The Unknown Comic and Gene, Gene the Dancing Machine.
With a straight-forward premise: If an act didn’t “earn” the gong from one of the three celebrity panelists (usually featuring the lovely Jaye P. Morgan), then they were scored on a 1-10 scale. The contestant with the highest score won the ‘grand’ prize – ($516.32)
So why did it disappear into the “idiot box” abyss and why hasn’t anyone recapitalized on the idea?
According to promoter Leslie Gold, whose Radiochick Corporation has been awarded the rights to stage GONG SHOW live events in venues throughout the US, “If you can actually sing and dance, that’s nice, but it is not the point. We are looking for originality and balls. No act is too strange or freakish. If you can make your friends howl with laughter or recoil in horror, chances are very good that you’re our type of act.”
Casting for GONG SHOW LIVE is being overseen by Robert Russell, renowned for the New York casting of dozens of hit TV shows, including The Bachelor, The Apprentice, Rock Star INXS, Big Brother, The Restaurant, Moment of Truth and NBC’s Phenomenon. The August 12th show will be attended by several reality and variety show television producers.
In the spirit of the original, wildly popular and charmingly deranged ‘70s TV show The Gong Show, GONG SHOW LIVE will feature original acts performing before a live audience. GONG SHOW LIVE will be MC’ed by comedian Ray Ellin, and judged by three stars of comedy, TV, and radio. GONG SHOW LIVE will also feature a live band led by renowned musician Sandy Gennaro (Cyndi Lauper, Joan Jett, The Monkees, Bo Diddley).
Complete information for submissions and event details, along with advance tickets for GONG SHOW LIVE for $15 ($20 day of show), is available at http://www.gongshowlive.net. The link for BB King’s and GONG SHOW LIVE event tickets is http://www.bbkingblues.com/schedule/moreinfo.cgi?id=5109.
Where is Celebbuzzz ? (AKA Joshua Estrin)
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