As it enters its 13th season in television syndication the reality show Cheaters has a new host with a famous old Hollywood name: Clark Gable.
The 23-year-old grandson of the late star of Gone With the Wind and more than 65 other features is an aspiring actor himself but until recently has been limited to print work, modeling and a small role in a low-budget Italian film called Looking for Clara, shot last summer in Italy (but not expected to get a U.S. release).
Then came an audition in Burbank a few weeks ago, and Gable was chosen as the third host of Cheaters, replacing Joey Greco. Days later he was in Dallas shooting the first of 44 episodes of the show that will be produced for this season. They begin to air in some markets this summer and in others in the fall.
“We just felt it was time to freshen up the show with a new host,” says Bobby Goldstein, who created Cheaters in 1995 and has been the executive producer and driving force behind it ever since.
The show is unscripted and Gable insists not faked in any way. They really do walk into situations where wives, husbands and lovers confront a person who is cheating on them. People really are caught in the act.
Greco actually got stabbed in one such situation during the production of an episode, but Gable insists he is ready for whatever comes.
“I do have some minor concerns about this,” he admits. “But I feel it’s what I want to do, and I can’t live life in fear. I just take everything one day at a time. I can’t say I’m not afraid. I am thrown into these environments. What I’m doing is dangerous. When you get people who are cheating on each other it gets very, very heated in some of the arguments. I’m learning slowly. I’m no Joey Greco, but I do the best I can.”
Gable was actually stabbed once in real life. In 2009, he was at a friend’s house in Calabasas, Calif., when there was a scuffle. He stepped in to protect his friend and got stabled in the side. He ended up in the hospital for a month with a collapsed lung and underwent surgery but has since recovered.
“It was a well-learned lesson,” says Gable. “It made me more humble as a person and set me straight in the best possible way. It was a blessing in disguise.”
Gable says he also learned a lesson a few days after Christmas last year when he was playing with a laser pointer his mother had given him as a stocking stuffer. He was in a convertible and aimed it at a helicopter. It turned out to be a police helicopter, and he had violated a federal law. He was arrested and sentenced to 10 days in jail. He served six.
“It was a big misunderstanding,” says Gable. “It was unfortunate it happened. I learned it is very dangerous. Now I’m happy I am able to set an example, and hopefully people will learn from what happened to me.”
William Clark Gable, the Oscar-winning actor, died in 1960 at age 59. Four months after his death, Gable’s fifth wife Kay Williams (Gable), a former actress, gave birth to the star’s only son, John Clark Gable. The son did some acting but never found fame. He married a woman named Tracy with whom he had a son, but they divorced when the child, Clark James Gable, was about 2 1/2 years old.
The child was born in Santa Monica and raised in the San Fernando Valley and Malibu. He went to school in Agoura Hills, Moorpark and Malibu and never attended college. He did recently take an eight week course in filmmaking at the New York Film Academy and aspires to be on both sides of the camera.
Tracy in 1995 was remarried to Jason Scheff, a vocalist and bass player who replaced Peter Cetera as the lead singer and bass player for the rock band Chicago in 1985. While his mother became Tracy Scheff, the boy always went simply by Clark Gable.
“The name means a lot to me,” Gable told The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday. “It opened a lot of doors. It also carries a lot of expectations. I want to create a new legacy for my family because I feel the ball got dropped by a generation. I want to pick it back up and do what I can with it.”
As a child, the name was something the boy was very aware of. “I’d get up to get a school award or something, and they’d say 'Clark Gable' and all the parents would stand up,” he recalls. “I’ve had my identification taken away from me because people didn’t believe it's my real name.”
He says it has opened some doors in Hollywood. “It’s in my blood, and I really want to do it,” says Gable. “Just like my grandfather. But I don’t want to be compared to him in any way because I am different. I just happen to be born into these great circumstances, so I feel it gives me a great opportunity for what I want to do.”
Cheaters was created by Goldstein, a Dallas lawyer, before anyone knew what the term “reality television” even meant. He pitched it to Hollywood, but no one was interested, so he put up his own money to produce the show, set up his own domestic distribution and became a partner in a foreign sales company, which has sold the show all over the world.
Goldstein says Cheaters is cleared as of the end of last season in about 75 percent of U.S. TV homes and since 2006 also has been seen on the G4 cable network. In Los Angeles it runs on KDOC both as a weekly show playing at midnight on weekends and as a daytime strip. It is also airs on cable and satellite TV.
In Chicago, it plays on WCIU at midnight Saturday and as a daily strip at noon from Monday to Friday.
It has just been acquired for the New York City market for the first time and will begin to air July 7 on WLNY, the Long Island station recently acquired by CBS that now operates as part of a duopoly with WCBS in New York.
Goldstein’s company, Bobby Goldstein Productions, under its head of development, senior vp David Rubini, also is working on a reality show about the entire Gable clan, including Gable’s mother, stepfather, two younger brothers (ages 10 and 13) and sister Kayley Gable, an aspiring actress and model.
“I feel if it's done in a tasteful and classy way it can really build a family’s morale and set a great example,” says Gable. “It could really be fun.”
For now, however, his life is the intense daily schedule of shooting Cheaters episodes in and around Dallas. On the very first show on which he was host, he accompanied a woman who had been in a long-term relationship. They caught the boyfriend cheating, and the woman rushed over and began to punch the other woman. Soon they were in a very heated fistfight.
“I didn’t realize what I was getting into,” says Gable. “It’s very serious. These people are throwing real punches. It’s not fake. They’re really hitting each other hard. This is a very sensitive subject. It’s love. When they cheat on each other and get caught dead to rights, there is no explanation they can give, so what comes out is anger.”
“I’m learning a lot about myself and about the show and about human behavior,” he adds. “It’s pretty unbelievable.”