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You can call it the secret love child of Jeopardy and Will & Grace, conceived in creativity and birthed in sexual diversity. Debuting on the Game Show Network on Monday, April 17, the updated version of the popular 1950’s game show, “I’ve Got A Secret” will blast before audiences with a whole new bag of tricks.
Dusted off and re-tooled, the show pays homage to one of the longest running and popular American game shows, by taking viewers back to an era of panel style gaming.
For an entire season an eclectic bunch of four feverishly work against the clock to guess the secrets of its guests who range from bored middle-American housewives to over-the-top celebrities.
The format is simple. The guest is introduced who then reveals their secret to the host while it is simultaneously revealed onscreen to both the studio audience and to viewers at home. Each panelist has 40 seconds to ask the right questions in order to guess the secrets of their guests.
Most times the panelists use all five of their senses, but sometimes they’re blindfolded and are comedically guided by yes/no/maybe responses from the host, guest, and studio audience reaction.
Hosted by the sarcastically witty, Bil Dwyer, (Extreme Dodge, That 70’s Show) the game show panelists include silly former pro baseball player, Billy Bean, chatty, Sirius Radio talk host, Frank DeCaro, snappy, stand up comedienne, Suzanne Westenhoefer (“Late Show with David Letterman”, “Politically Incorrect”) and quick tongued, Broadway stage actor/dancer, Jermaine Taylor.
The result is a surprisingly smart and hilariously funny half-hour of belly laughs filled with enough subtle gay puns to smooth out the most conservative wrinkles of any red state across America.
Just in case you haven’t figured it out yet, all of the aforementioned panelists with the exception of the host are openly gay but intriguingly enough the show itself isn’t “gay” according to show producer Burt Dubrow.
“It is not a gay anything….it’s not a heterosexual anything. This is not something that we talk about or find overly significant. We felt we’d turn the volume up a bit. It’s not an intrical part of the show. It’s never even brought up. It’s there and it’s not there. Our feeling is that there was no reason to put a label on it” Dubrow eagerly explained during a telephone interview.
So if sexual orientation is a non-issue just as Dubrow stresses, then what probably makes the panel of four click perhaps is the diversity among the gays versus the fact that they’re all gay. You see on this game show no two gays are alike.
First there’s Billy, the goofy but lovable out athletic jock. Remember him? He’s the guy everyone in high school hated because he always got the girl. Billy actually gives the show a hint of normalcy and a smidgen of sanity which helps to counter balance the over-the-top antics of his cohorts.
Next there’s Frank, the rotund radio announcer who gives life to our color-deficient lives by wearing loud and wacky shirts and sports coats occasionally accentuated with a corsage the size of San Diego stapled to his lapel. Frank really keeps the show hopping and skipping with his tongue-in-cheek, smarty-pants jokes and quips.
Next there’s the attractive but unusually blonde Suzanne who sports a wet looking, Endora (Betwiched) hairdo which defies the laws of gravity, staying perfectly in place like good hair follicles should. Her stand-up comedic background gives the right punch and jab alongside her male counterparts giving her a distinct on-air advantage.
Finally, there’s the chocolate-chiseled Jermaine who in every episode sports a gorgeous long sleeve shirt unbuttoned down to his navel, displaying approximately 95% of his chest and midsection revealing hills and valleys of muscle. His Boadway background and pearly white teeth give him an over-the-top million dollar appearance.
When they all get together this eclectic bunch of characters collectively are gayer than Liza Minelli’s ex-husband yet the show still isn’t “gay” according to show producer, Burt Dubrow.
At any rate, if you want to call it a “gay” game show, a “non-gay” game show, or a “non-gay” game show that has a lot of gays on it; this new and improved “I”ve Got A Secret” works extremely well.
Panelist Suzanne Westenhoefer agrees as she predicts mainstream success for the show. “I think the show will work for middle America because it is funny. It’s a fun, funny show and the gay panelists just adds more to it….plus there ARE gay people in middle American and they will watch too….and maybe…maybe it will bring us all together and we can end this intolerance and peace will rule throughout the entertainment land” Westenhoefer exclaims.
Her co-panelist, ball player, Billy Bean interjects that “Sarcasm is flying everywhere, and since the panelists are not hiding anything about ourselves. It’s truthful as well. That’s why we can shoot it live, without a script, or any knowledge of what we are going to see.”
Jermaine Taylor chimes in adding that ” the show brings back stars of Hollywood past. It’s always refreshing to see an act you once enjoyed in times before. and, some of our acts are just insanely intriguing to watch!”
As an added bonus, the newly revamped show allows for one or more of the “secrets” of its guests to be performed on air. To give you a hint of what’s to come, there’s the guy who can break pencils and rulers with his butt cheeks. Then there’s the woman who once hula hooped 82 of those plastic things around her body.
Next there’s the guy who broke the world record for kicking himself in the head, 42 times to be exact. Then there’s the world champion baton twirler who now works a 9-5 job at an auto company. Finally there’s the lizard trainer who teaches lizards how to sit in human poses. And yes, all of these “secrets” are all performed live adding yet another layered dimension of comedy and even amazement to the show.
So what’s the motivation for someone revealing their secret on national television and attempting to stump this sassy panel of four? Well $1,000 and a dinner for two in Beverly Hills await the victorious contestant, a far cry from 80 bucks guests received back in 1952.
The game show producers say they get their quirky guests from scouring the internet, newspapers and through word of mouth. Or you could contact the show yourself by going to http://www.gsn.com
This new take on an old concept is definitely worth watching not only for the giggles and laughs to alleviate the pressures of the day, but more importantly to support four vibrantly diverse and talented individuals whose careers are about to soar into the entertainment stratosphere.
To hear an audio commentary and snippets of the show, click here:
write by Jerome