Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Now, Here's Your Host...

Drew Carey will become host of "The Price Is Right." Howie Mandel does "Deal or No Deal." Bob Saget is in the midst of "1 vs. 100." Joe Rogan plays on contestants' "Fear Factor." Jeff Foxworthy asks "Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?"

Clearly, if you want to host a game show these days, you first have to have a career as a standup comedian. But that's not how it always was. Used to be you had to work in radio first.

Bob Eubanks and Jim Lange were successful DJs before Chuck Barris chose them to front "The Newlywed Game" and "The Dating Game." Wink Martindale was a morning star in Memphis and at five different Los Angeles station before becoming synonymous with the words "game show host."

Art Fleming, host of the original "Jeopardy" in the 1960-70s, spent several years on the air in North Carolina and Ohio. After that incarnation of "Jeopardy" went off the air in 1979, Art returned to radio and spent a dozen years on KMOX.

Pat Sajak did afternoon drive in Nashville before becoming a TV weatherman and wheel-spinner. Tom Bergeron spent several years on the radio in New England. Even Bob Barker, who Carey will succeed, spoke into a radio microphone for years before Ralph Edwards chose him to host "Truth or Consequences."

But that era is over. Nowadays, the only way a radio guy gets a national TV hosting gig is to follow in the footsteps of Ryan Seacrest and outlast guys named Dunkelman.

Two other things. Since Barker got in trouble for a sex scandal involving the models on "TPIR," it'll be interesting to see how Drew Carey acts around them. After all, here's a guy who makes no secret of the fact that he's been a regular in more than one high-end strip club.

Oh, and the best game show host on TV these days is Pat Kiernan, the dry quizmaster on VH1's "World Series of Pop Culture." He not only runs the game well, but knows just how much to ad-lib and when. Perfect.