Howie Mandel is hoping for another shot at game show magic with a holiday themed special called “Take It All.” Who doesn’t love a good old fashioned Yankee Swap? It’s the best part of family holiday get togethers, isn’t it? We all love trying to steal the iPad your uncle generously brought while praying you don’t get stuck with the musical toilet paper holder put into play by your wisecracking cousin. It’s the highlight of the holiday. And now Howie has brought the idea of the white elephant to prime time. But in this version there are no dud prizes. At stake is hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise like hover crafts, expensive cars and exotic vacations.
On basing the show on a Yankee Swap
“Having been to a party where people played Yankee Swap or White Elephant or Secret Santa, you realize the reason that we’re playing it in people’s homes is because it’s a great form of entertainment, and it’s a great interactive, social, fun game… I’m Jewish, so we didn’t play Secret Santa but when I went to work and you worked at companies, and we had holiday parties and things like that, I had seen it. So I was fascinated by it. It was always the highlight of every party. And especially when people became competitive and upset and angry, I mean it was so much fun to watch people steal from another person. And it always tickled my fancy.”
On the level of prizes on ‘Take It All‘
“There are no duds. Well, the only dud, if you want to call it a dud, is you end up out. And I say that a couple times on the show. In one of the beginning rounds when the amounts are lower, you could end up where there’s a range from $15,000 to $100,000 in one round, and end if you end up holding the $15,000 prize, which for all intents and purposes is a really nice valuable gift, that could end up being the dud because that could send you home. You have to give that back. You give back everything you’ve accumulated up to that point… That being said, prizes are like characters in themselves. You will see things that you haven’t seen on any other show. Things like hovercrafts and submarines and jet packs, and things like you’ve never seen before, so they’re all amazing.”
On not knowing anything about the prizes or the players
“This is why I wanted to play it and maybe it’s not like any other host, I’ve never gone into the prize room. So I said, ‘I want to be blown away by these prizes too,’ so I don’t know what’s coming up; number one. So as the game goes on and a hovercraft appears, I have no idea. I want to guess. I want to have the fun. Is the hovercraft worth more than the Mercedes? Is it worth more than a jet pack? I don’t know, so I’m having fun with that. And the other thing is, I know nothing about the contestants until I ask the questions. So, they’re obviously, as there are in every show, a casting process, as far as people showing up and applying to be on the show, and they fill out applications, I don’t know anything about it. So, you may think you know something. I don’t want to know something. I don’t want to know what their background is or how they play or what their strategy is. We learn and it unfolds in front of you.”
On maintaining a distance from the players
“First and foremost I’m a human being and I’m a father and I’m a husband. You can tell that I root for people and you can tell that I care, and it’s really hard. It’s the hardest thing is to maintain, and I guess that’s what they pay you for, to maintain my professionalism when I see, in my mind, just like you the viewer, you know I can go, ‘Oh, no, no, no, no, this is bad move. This is a bad move,’ but I’m not allowed to say that. And I can think it, but I can’t tell you I’m thinking it because that may sway you. And then again, I could be wrong. So yes, I am very involved. I can’t totally remove myself from it. And I hope that I maintain a professional stance as the host and I’ve seen some parts of it and I think I do a fantastic job.”
Read more of our interview with Howie at Pop Culture Passionistas.
Watch “Take It All” starting Monday, December 10 through Friday, December 14 at 9 p.m. EST/8 p.m. Central, and again on Monday, December 17 at 10 p.m. EST/9 p.m. Central on NBC.
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