Contributing to what is likely the most entertaining election in American history, the Game Show Network is readying “Who Wants to Be Governor of California? The Debating Game,” featuring five gubernatorial candidates duking it out on air a week before the real election.
In keeping with the tone of the recall circus, the co-producer of the format is called Mindless Entertainment. Game Show Network will select five candidates from among the 158 who have filed for the gubernatorial race, chronicle their campaigns and then pit them against one another. Questions will center on politics, but show’s no “Meet the Press.”
“Who Wants to Be Governor?” will be shot in late September and air Oct. 1 at 9 p.m. Game Show Network will make a contribution of $21,200 — the maximum corporate campaign contribution allowed in the state — to the front-runner in a poll on the network’s Web site.
Organizers are looking for candidate contestants who may not necessarily be high-profile celebs but who bring something interesting to the table.
Mindless Entertainment produces the gameshow “Cram” and did the WB’s “Surreal Life.” Mindless’ Mark Cronin, who is not related to Game Show Network prexy Rich Cronin, will exec produce.
“We’ll have podiums and buzzers and bells,” said Rich Cronin, “but there won’t be any long speeches. The show will be done on a point system. There may be an obstacle course where they have to get past lobbyists with briefcases of money. There will be policy questions and issue questions — things that showcase what the contestants can do.”
Cronin will announce the show, the contestants and the host on Tuesday.
The network will have film crews following the candidates as they campaign, creating one-minute election news interstitials as well as packages for the one-hour special. On the network’s Web site, polls will be taken and election games offered.
Cronin said the five will be chosen from the ranks of those who filed last week to take Davis’ job, should he be ousted.
He believes there could be some controversy if the candidate who earns the most votes in the real-life Oct. 7 election is not the top vote-getter online at gsn.com.
“We wanted to bring an ‘American Idol’ element to this,” Cronin said. “Plus this is the one chance for the rest of America to weigh in — you don’t have to be a Californian to vote in our election.” (Obviously, you can also be underage or have a prison record).
Besides Arnold Schwarzenegger, several celebrities have entered the race, among them billboard poser Angelyne, Donald Novello (Father Guido Sarducci) and former child actor Gary Coleman.
Then here’s former cable TV reporter Brooke Adams, director Art Brown, filmmaker Lorraine “Abner Zurd” Fontanes, porn actress Mary “Marry Carey” Cook, sports reporter Geoff Nathanson and former Elvis tribute singer Howard Allen Gershater.
Other candidates include business owners, single parents, fired-up freelancers and porn peddler Larry Flynt.
Winning the game or the online poll comes with no ties attached, Rich Cronin said. “We won’t be asking for any political favors from the winner.”