A retro game show is getting a reboot, courtesy of producer Will Arnett.
The classic madcap talent contest “The Gong Show” which often featured bad acts, outrageous characters and cruel judges originally aired between 1976 and 1980, before getting a short-lived late-1980s revival. Now, Arnett is bringing it back to primetime with a little help from a fellow Canadian with a somewhat familiar face.
A thoroughly disguised Mike Myers will host the variety show as “unknown comic” Tommy Maitland, stepping into the shoes of the late Chuck Barris to host the show, a task he says he’s more than ready for.
“If I had to describe myself, I would say I am an entertainer,” he tells ET Canada’s Matte Babel. A former Army Major, Maitland says “The Gong Show” will stand out in a sea of reality TV talent competitions.
“It’s good fun and you know, my thought is this: just turn on your telly, turn off your brains. This is just for funsies,” says Myers, never breaking from his Maitland persona.
According to Maitland and Arnett, the pair met at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where Maitland was performing at a charity event for asthmatic Sea Scouts.
“We kept in touch and I hoped one day I would get to work with him. Then we got lucky with this show and I thought immediately, ‘It’s got to be Tommy,'” Arnett explains.
Aside from Maitland (and Myers) and Arnett, the newly-rebooted show will feature a wealth of hilarious celebrity judges including Zach Galifianakis, Elizabeth Banks and Chelsea Handler. For Toronto-born Arnett, bringing the light-hearted show back to TV was a conscious effort to combat dark times.
He tells ET Canada, “The times we are living in are hard and people just need to relax and turn their brains off,” he says, echoing Maitland’s stance on the show. “I’ve had mine turned off my whole life and I just want people to join me,” he quips.
“The Gong Show” premieres June 22.