Man­del: 30 new episodes? ‘Deal’

The Capital - - HOMES SALES - By Rick Bent­ley Tri­bune News Ser­vice

CNBC ex­ec­u­tives have said “deal” to bring­ing back the tele­vi­sion game show “Deal or No Deal.” Al­most 10 years since the com­pe­ti­tion pro­gram hosted by Howie Man­del went off the air, new episodes will air on the cable chan­nel.

The new or­der, which in­cludes 30 one-hour episodes taped at Uni­ver­sal Or­lando Re­sort, be­gan air­ing Wed­nes­day. Along with the re­turn of Man­del as host and the mod­els who back him up, the show con­tin­ues the chal­lenge of hav­ing con­tes­tants try­ing to pre­dict which of 26 suit­cases will win them $1 mil­lion (or leave with as lit­tle as one cent).

But the new deal does come with some mod­i­fi­ca­tions. The mys­te­ri­ous shad­owy fig­ure known as The Banker, who tries to tempt play­ers with con­firmed amounts of money, is now a wo­man. And once she has re­vealed her of­fer, play­ers will be al­lowed to ne­go­ti­ate for a higher sum.

Man­del’s ex­cited about re­turn­ing to the game show, but he wasn’t as ea­ger back in 2005 when he was first of­fered the op­por­tu­nity. Co­me­di­ans host­ing game shows are plen­ti­ful to­day, but at that time it was a rar­ity. Man­del was so con­cerned about dam­ag­ing the act­ing ca­reer he had cul­ti­vated with projects such as “St. Else­where” and “Bobby’s World” that he turned down the host­ing job three times.

It was his wife, Terry, who fi­nally con­vinced Man­del to say yes. The re­sults changed his life and ca­reer.

“I went and taped six shows, and I’ve never been more em­bar­rassed in my life, be­cause it was the first time I didn’t show up with an act. I just thought, ‘You know, I’m just Howie.’ And some peo­ple won money and some lives were changed,” Man­del says. “I flew to Mi­ami, and within 30 sec­onds, the first per­son said to me, ‘deal or no deal?’

“I had a catch­phrase. And the thing just ex­ploded. Then on other net­works, you started see­ing them hire Jeff Fox­wor­thy to do ‘Am I Smarter than a 5th Grader?’ I think Steve Har­vey owes me his en­tire ca­reer.”

“Deal or No Deal” ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Scott St. John says se­lect­ing Man­del as the host makes the pro­duc­tion team look like ge­niuses in hind­sight. Man­del was ap­proached be­cause of his act­ing and com­edy back­ground, but what ended up be­ing his big­gest host­ing skill is his abil­ity to con­nect with peo­ple. It’s not un­usual for Man­del to get emo­tion­ally con­nected.

Man­del knows the game show is about win­ning (or not win­ning) money, but he sees it also as an ex­am­i­na­tion of how peo­ple act when con­fronted with ma­jor de­ci­sions.

“Ev­ery day, we make de­ci­sions. Maybe not as heavy or as hefty as they have to make in a mo­ment on this game, but that’s what it is. I think it’s all in­spi­ra­tional. It’s all as­pi­ra­tional,” Man­del says. “Even when you watch some­body go­ing wrong, that’s a teach­ing mo­ment.

“We no­tice on the show some­times, be­cause there is a mil­lion dol­lars on the board, at some point, we say, ‘You can have, right now, guar­an­teed, $21,000.’ And it’s in­ter­est­ing to watch some­body who has told us ba­si­cally a hor­ror story of their own life say ‘No deal.’ How do you say ‘no deal’ to $20,000? I don’t think I’ve ever been handed and played a game for $20,000. They lose what­ever that value is. We talk about that con­stantly, and that’s what this game teaches.”

Man­del found be­ing part of a show where he didn’t have to de­liver scripted lines or write new com­edy ma­te­rial made him com­fort­able — be­cause he got to fi­nally be him­self in front of an au­di­ence.

Man­del al­ways thought he had to be funny to be ac­cepted.

“I don’t know if it’s be­cause of my age, but this show made me com­fort­able with just be­ing a hu­man and shar­ing the foibles and the weak­nesses and the strengths and just be­ing hu­man,” Man­del says.

LIONEL HAHN/ABACA PRESS

Ten years later, Howie Man­del re­turns to “Deal or No Deal.”

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