Snoop Dogg is more than just a legend in the hip-hop world. He is an entertainment and pop-culture icon as well. So, what better choice to lead the re-imagining of the classic game show “The Joker’s Wild” (Season two premiering April 15th at 10p.m. ET/PT on TBS) than “The Doggfather” himself?
Our colleagues at the Turner Blog spoke with Michael Bloom, SVP – Unscripted Series & Specials, TBS/TNT, to find out what it’s like to not only re-invent a legendary show like this, but to do it with one of the greatest hip-hop legends of all-time. Now that’s a great gig.
Turner: For those who may not know, tell us what you do at Turner.
Michael Bloom: I oversee non-fiction for TBS, TNT and specials. And my job is to create franchises, businesses and content that are based on unscripted, more hybrid or documentary IP (intellectual property).
T: So, let’s dive into “Snoop Dogg Presents The Joker’s Wild.” First, what is your role with the show?
MB: My team overseas the creative production of the show. We developed it last summer with Sony and their producers, and launched it in October to great success. Our strategy here was very simple -- live up to the impressive success we've had in scripted. Since rebranding TBS just two years ago, we renewed 100% of our scripted originals, all of which generated impressive audience growth in an environment where other networks are seeing mostly declines. They set the bar with our scripted originals, and we knew we had to match it.
T: For the uninitiated, tell us what “The Joker’s Wild” is all about.
MB: “The Joker's Wild” is a very simple game show format from the 70s that some people might remember. The original used trivia questions and general knowledge questions, and was set within a huge slot machine. We took that basic idea and environment and allowed Snoop Dogg to “Snoop-ify” it, and it's been a wild ride since day one.
T: How did this reboot of the classic game show come about, and how does it differ from the original?
MB: Holly Jacobs, who oversees Unscripted at Sony, called me in March of last year to tell me that she was exploring a re-imagination of “The Joker's Wild,” with Snoop Dogg, at the helm. Snoop and Michael Strahan would be executive producing, and she wanted to set up a pitch meeting. And when I heard all of the people who were attached, and I heard five minutes of their vision, I thought we had found a perfect companion for “Drop the Mic.” It turned out to be a great, mutually beneficial pair.
T: It’s unique to see Snoop Dogg hosting a game show. He’s quite a different type of personality than (original host) Jack Barry! What was it like getting Snoop up to speed?
MB: Snoop had a connection to the show. He and his grandmother used to watch it all the time when he was a kid. And let's not forget, Snoop's been an icon for 20 plus years. The guy lives on stage. While he loved the original series, he had to learn a whole new skill set to do this, but he learned quickly. All he had to do was see it staged a few times, and then he just picked up the note cards and was able to do it. That guy is on from the minute he steps on stage until the minute he gets off and he’s not shy about having fun in this role. Try to find me a more entertaining game show host – I don't think you can. “It’s ridiculous, unexpected, and there’s a lot of spontaneous moments with Snoop.”
T: What is it about the show that makes it so exciting for you?
MB: It's ridiculous, unexpected, and there's a lot of spontaneous moments with Snoop. It's a mashup between an old game show format and a high-comedy sketch show. We try to introduce as many comedic elements as we can but still give Snoop and the contestants a chance to play a very challenging game. He has the ability to create engaging, surprising verite moments when the action goes off the rails. You get some of the best moments that way. We want the show to be an equally entertaining experience for the people in the audience and at home.
T: Can you give a little sneak peek into season 2?
MB: For season two, we doubled the jackpots to $50,000 dollars. There’s more money in the early rounds, and there are two huge gamesmanship elements that we added. First, in the third round if the contestant can't answer the question, they can pass it to the person next to them, so you can use it offensively or defensively.
You'll see in season two how strategy is used for people to either give an impossible question to somebody, or to steal a question away from somebody that wasn't sure. And second, Snoop has a box of money for the final round. He’s the joker at all times, and Snoop wants to send people home with money, but he's still going to play with you a little bit. If you have several spins and the devil hasn't come up, Snoop's going to offer you some cash to quit, to see if you still have the guts to pull another spin.
Also, we have incredible celebrities in the slot machine this season, including Matthew McConaughey, Biz Markie, Ice Cube, Julian Edelman, RuPaul, Kevin Smith, Busy Philips and Paris Jackson.
T: Everyone had a favorite game show growing up. What was yours?
MB: I used to love “Let’s Make a Deal.” I thought Monty Hall was a genius. And you know what? Snoop embodies some of that wheeler, dealer entertainer that Monty Hall used to have. I loved the stakes in “Let's Make a Deal.”
Season two of “The Joker’s Wild” premieres April 15 at 10 p.m. ET on TBS. Also, check out the Turner Blog's conversation with Michael Bloom about Drop the Mic.