Howie Mandel started his show-business career as a stand-up comic-turned-actor and early on made a big splash playing Dr. Wayne Fiscus on "St. Elsewhere." But it was an unusual gig for Mandel that made him a household name -- hosting the game show "Deal or No Deal." In a recent conference call, Mandel talked about his new game show, a holiday event titled "Take It All."
Mandel never planned to be a game show host
Mandel commented on the course of his career, from his days doing comedy in Canadian Clubs through to his latest gig as a judge on "America's Got Talent." He stated, "Everything I've done in my life has been because I said yes to these opportunities. They're nothing that I planned. I didn't plan to do 'St. Elsewhere'… And I certainly didn't plan to be a game show host. I fell into 'Deal or No Deal,' and it was such a great experience."
He added that in his early days, he may have poked fun at his current self. "As somebody who had as a basis for my career in stand-up comedy, the irony of being a game show host is probably something that I would make fun of."
The offers came in after 'Deal or No Deal'
Mandel divulged that because of the popularity of "Deal or No Deal," he is offered game show hosting gigs on a regular basis but isn't interested: "I'm offered a lot of games where trivia is involved or stunts are involved... I have no interest in doing those," he said.
But he had great interest in doing "Take It All." The premise is based on the holiday tradition of the Yankee Swap. Five contestants each get a prize and have turns to steal the other players' loot. Whoever has the least expensive prize in the end is eliminated. The final two left standing end up with what Mandel calls "a veritable cornucopia of extravagant prizes." They range from Mercedes to hovercrafts to jet packs.
The players can keep what they win or try to 'Take It All'
In the end, the last two players have to make a choice. Do they stick with the prizes they have accumulated, or do they try to walk away with both finalists' booty? If they make the wrong choice, they lose everything.
Mandel noted, "It's great gamesmanship, because it's like poker. They get a chance to face-off against each other, and it's the most surprising social experiment I've ever been part of."
It's a game of decision-making, strategy, and some trickery. Players are allowed to lie to their fellow contestants about what choices they will make, the expected value of certain items, and even their personal circumstances to sway another player's opinion of them. Mandel explained, "You have to make a decision. Are you going to trust what the person is saying? Are they who they say they are?"
According to the "Take It All" host, this show is much more than just a game show. Players are making life-changing decisions, and he stated, "It became this intense party environment that I just wanted to show up to every day. On some days I left incredibly frustrated and emotional because I watched somebody crash and burn, but on those days when people won and did well and played well and changed their lives, there was no better high in the world."
Watch "Take It All" starting Monday, 12/10 through Friday, 12/14 at 9 PM ET, and again on Monday, 12/17 at 10 PM on NBC.
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