You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Craig Ferguson On Ditching Conventions and Having Fun on ‘Celebrity Name Game’

Though his tenure on “The Late Late Show” may be drawing to a close, Craig Ferguson won’t be idle: He’s looking forward to his new gig as host of the new syndie game show “Celebrity Name Game.”

Known for his atypical, non-formulaic approach to his after-midnight talker, Ferguson told journalists in a telephone press conference that he’s taking a similar approach to “Name Game,” and isn’t sticking to any established format or canned atmosphere.

“I felt that when we were most successful in the late-night show, it was lovingly trashing the conventions of it,” he said, A big draw of “Name Game,” he said, was its simplicity and openness to allow “enough breathing room and enough room for me to kind of experiment and grow inside of it.”

Ferguson has been on-board the show since 2011, where it was originally designed as an hour-long for CBS from Courteney Cox and David Arquette’s production banner, Coquette Productions. The network ultimately passed, and the show eventually resurfaced with Debmar-Mercury and FremantleMedia North America and found a home on Tribune Broadcasting stations.

The game show pits celebs and contestants competing for up to $20,000 in pop-culture quiz games based on the board game “Identity Crisis,” a factor that played well for Ferguson, who said he likes that the game has not been done on TV before. “If you take a game like “Jeopardy” or “Wheel of Fortune,” they are games that have been played for years and years and years, and people know the format and love the format and don’t want you messing with the format. So the game is the thing.”

Ferguson has already filmed around 100 episodes of the show, which bows Sept. 22, and has racked up an impressive list of celebrity competitors, including Lisa Kudrow, Sheryl Crow, Vivica Fox, Cheryl Burke, Luke Perry and Darren Criss. Of course, Ferguson has made sure that Cox and Arquette have signed on to play a few times, as well.

“Audiences like seeing the humanizing effect of somebody being informal, because once you’re playing a game it’s a little more difficult to remain aloof,” he said. “If you’re playing beer pong or ‘Celebrity Name Game,’ it’s difficult to maintain that sort of grand distance.”

He enjoys the show’s potential for disaster — as far as goofs go – and said he was shocked at the varying levels of pop-culture knowledge. Some contestants surprised him with how much they knew of celebrities, and others with how little. “It’s a really interesting generational thing to watch — if, for example, someone under the age of 30 gets a clue that the answer is Alfred Hitchcock.”

In prepping for the new hosting job, Ferguson said that he only briefly took a look at fellow game show personalities — he says he’s more looking forward to developing his own style. “I don’t know if it happens in the first 10 shows or the first 100 shows, but, hopefully, eventually you find a voice which is yours.”

That said, he isn’t looking to become the next longest-running game show host.

“If you know anything about me, and the recent news will confirm it, I don’t want to do anything for 30 years,” he admitted. “A 10-year run in late-night is long enough for me and 10 years of doing this, if we should be so lucky, will be just fine. I don’t want to do it forever.”

“Celebrity Name Game” premieres tonight.  Check local listings.


Popular on Variety

More TV

  • 'The Muppets' Short-Form Series Coming to

    'The Muppets' Short-Form Series Coming to Disney Plus

    Kermit, Miss Piggy and co. are coming to Disney Plus. A short-form unscripted series starring the goofy puppets is set to premiere on the forthcoming Disney streaming service in 2020. The news was announced at the Disney Plus D23 Expo event. The announcement came with a brief teaser of Kermit and Joe the Legal Weasel [...]

  • Succession HBO

    'Succession' Composer Nicholas Britell on Making Music for the One Percent

    The Roys, the media empire family at the heart of HBO’s “Succession,” are ridiculously rich. They’re manipulative and cruel. They’re also a bit delusional and absurd. When Nicholas Britell conceived the show’s score, he wanted to capture all of that. “I wrote in this almost late-1700s, dark classical zone,” says Britell, the Oscar-nominated composer of [...]

  • Ewan McGregor of 'American Pastoral'Variety and

    Ewan McGregor Confirms Obi-Wan Kenobi Disney Plus Series to Shoot Next Year

    Ewan McGregor has confirmed that he will be reprising the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi for a Disney Plus series centered around the powerful Jedi, after Variety previously reported that he was in talks for the series. At Disney biennial D23 convention in Anaheim, Calif. on Friday, McGregor provided more details about the prospective show and [...]

  • Cody Rhodes, Brandi Rhodes. Professional wrestlers

    Listen: Brandi and Cody Rhodes Give Wrestlers’ Perspective to AEW

    Wrestlers and husband and wife duo Brandi and Cody Rhodes bring an inside the ring perspective to their executive roles at the nascent All Elite Wrestling (AEW). Cody Rhodes, executive vice president, and Brandi Rhodes, chief brand officer, spoke on Variety’s “TV Take” podcast with Joe Otterson about their new wrestling league.  AEW will put [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content