by Matt Webb Mitovich
Show Me the Money, once but a quotable from a Tom Cruise film, has finally found its rightful place as the title of a TV game show, premiering tonight on ABC at 9:30 pm/ET and hosted by William Shatner. (Starting Nov. 22, the show's regular time slot is Wednesdays at 8.) Having once sported a full-size Captain Kirk poster on my bedroom door, this TVGuide.com reporter was more than excited to speak with the Star Trek alum about his bold new mission, what's next for Boston Legal's Denny "Denny Crane" Crane and the current fate of his Starfleet commander.
TVGuide.com: What kind of schedule have you come up with where you can juggle these two ABC gigs of yours?
If it were just the two shows, I think I could manage it. But it's also all the publicity around them. I did 13 interviews yesterday and today. You know, doing a game show, I thought, "Oh, I could do that." You start rolling, and you're on for an hour. And if you want to do two shows a day, it's an hour on, an hour to get ready, then another hour, so three hours total. So I was saying that to myself when it was 2 o'clock in the morning, and we had been there 14 hours.... [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: There is an obvious comparison between Show Me the Money and Deal or No Deal — both have a stage full of beautiful girls toting dollar amounts that affect the contestant's fortune...:
Well, there is some comparison in that Endemol's Dick de Rijk, who is the Dutch genius of game shows, is behind Deal or No Deal and several of the other [reality-TV series]....
TVGuide.com: Has he worked his magic again?
I hope so. I played the game with him several times over several days, getting ready to understand how the game works and what the points of drama are, and it became more and more complex.
TVGuide.com: Help me understand the dancing element. The girls dance out with their scrolls [which raise or a lower a player's winnings]? What's that about?
[Laughs] That's like being at a Broadway musical and saying, "Why do they sing those words when they could just as soon say them?" It's called entertainment. The dancing girls are part of the glitter of the show. The part that I didn't understand, and never thought deeply about, was the exploration of the contestant, of why they're doing this, how their winning money would help them achieve dreams that they've expressed. Once the contestant is being queried, there's no going back. They can be up $750,000, as somebody at one time is, and be joyful and ecstatic, and in the next instant have no money at all. And then be back up. [On Show Me the Money] you can't cut and run.
TVGuide.com: Do you find yourself getting caught up in the contestant's highs and lows?
Absolutely! When they say, "I want to win this money to fix my boyfriend's teeth," and the boyfriend is there and he smiles, you realize he does need help, that it would change his life, her life... everything... if she could only win this money.
ABC's Show Me the Money previews tonight at 9:30 pm/ET. Starting Nov. 22, the show's regular time slot is Wednesdays at 8. Executive Producer: Mike Nichols, Director: Rich DiPirro.