“Lego Masters” hasn’t yet been renewed for a Season 2, yet Fox Corp. boss Lachlan Murdoch has all but confirmed that it will be back — well, once productions are allowed to come back. The show was broadcast’s top-rated new series among adults 18-49, adults 18-34 and teens last season. And Fox touted that it was also the season’s No. 1 “co-viewed” broadcast entertainment program. I watched it with my boys, and as they marveled at the show’s creations, I was impressed with the production’s casting, humorous tone and willingness to break the form while keeping the competition legit.
“It was great to see Lachlan speak so supportively of the show,” says host Will Arnett. The feedback has been fantastic and so it would be exciting if we got to come back and make more episodes.” Expect an announcement soon, insiders say.
Variety‘s Awards HQ newsletter recently spoke to host Arnett about what made the show special, and what’s hopefully to come.
AWARDS HQ: There’s got to be a finite number of Lego masters out there, so hats off to your casting team, because it was probably the most diverse, interesting, unique group of contesants I’ve seen on a reality show.
ARNETT:You don’t have to go very far beneath the surface of Lego enthusiasts. The thing that you find, the sort of the commonality there, is that all these people who want to be part of the show, have such a deep personal connection to Lego of their own. Lego is such a big part of their lives. This is something that they’ve been doing forever. There’s an emotional connection there for them with Lego that they’ve carried through their whole lives. What you find is that it really does cross a variety of people. It’s awesome.
AWARDS HQ: How did you walk that line of deconstructing the whole competition trope, but actually have a real competition going at the same time?
ARNETT: It was a fine line. At this point, we’ve seen a lot of competition shows, and so we know what those tropes are. I’ve never been a part of anything like this. So what I didn’t know, became a strength. The producers were constantly saying, lean into that. The fact that we’re here and having this big moment, and ‘isn’t this weird that the lighting has changed?’ I would point it out. Not making fun of it, just recognizing it. While still honoring it. This is all kind of in retrospect, but maybe that’s what it ended up doing was that it allowed people to have a certain level of comfort. Certainly the builders, it kind of took a little bit of pressure off. Like, ‘hey, I’m in this with you guys. And I’m just learning as I go too. You’ve never done a competition show, neither have I.’
AWARDS HQ: Some of those challenges were as long as 24 hours. What were those long production days like? Was there a lot of downtime?
ARNETT: My friend Hamish hosts the Australian version, and so when I started on this, his advice was to stay close, even during those hours. Be constantly talking to the producers and either be on the floor or talking to the control truck, because stuff is going to happen. And you want to be there when it does. They’re going to be long, monotonous hours, it’s almost like a stakeout. But resist the urge to just check out.
AWARDS HQ: How would you rate your hosting experience? This has become an interesting side hustle for a lot of stars.
ARNETT: If it weren’t for the fact that it’s Lego, and something that I’ve been involved with now for 10 years, it probably wouldn’t be something that I would be inclined to do. But because of my relationship with Lego through all the Lego movies, it seemed like a natural fit. My experience was really great. I learned as I went and it was so such a positive environment. I constantly wanted to enhance that positive experience for the builders. I got to go every day and be on this journey with these people. And I really enjoyed that process. I wasn’t always great at it. But I did enjoy it. I don’t think that I’d be very good at going in and just doing something that I didn’t care about.
AWARDS HQ: Did you bring your kids to the set, and did they get to witness Lego Nirvana firsthand?
ARNETT: Yeah, my kids were on set quite a lot. They’re 11 and nine. And they’re both big Lego builders. My nine year old would be on the floor marveling at what the builders were building, or digging into our endless buckets of Lego and building himself. My 11-year-old spent a lot of time in the production truck. And they would let him get on mic and talk to me while we were rolling. As we’re rolling, he’d be talking to me in my ear, which was distracting, but also hilarious. It really was a family affair. People who had kids who worked on the show. I would get calls from people, Jason Bateman called and he was like, ‘Wait, where are you guys shooting?’ So he came by and cruised the floor and talked to the contestants while his daughter was getting into Lego. It was really a family affair.
AWARDS HQ: So this is like all the on the cutting room floor stuff? We didn’t get to see all the other celebrities.
ARNETT: Jason said to me the other day, ‘wow, you really cut me from the show.’ And I said, ‘I didn’t think that you wanted to be on it. And he was like, ‘So I just got completely cut out!’
AWARDS HQ: One of the show’s selling points was it’s something you can watch with your kids.
ARNETT: I can’t tell you how rewarding it was to have so many people reach out to me and tell me that they love this show because they watched it with their families. Even Brad Pitt, who executive produced the show through Plan B, reached out and said, almost as a viewer. I had a teacher in North Carolina reach out early on in this isolation, saying, ‘I’m gonna do a Lego building competition for my middle school.’ So I sent a video and now we’re in the process of whittling it down to the final. I’m going to help her judge her Lego building competition for her middle school in North Carolina, and send them the final video.
AWARDS HQ: You’ve been nominated for Emmys several times; how would you describe that experience?
ARNETT: : The first time I got nominated was for Arrested Development.’ I was traveling overseas to a family wedding. I flew all night from LA, and I landed in Stockholm. I had like, a million voicemails and texts from people and emails saying congrats and I was so groggy, I was like, for what? It felt really great and I lost to Jeremy Piven for ‘Entourage.’ I was nominated a few times for ’30 Rock’ and nominated for ‘Bojack Horseman’ for best animated show as a producer last year. My view on it has shifted. If it happens great, and if it doesn’t, that’s okay. Of course I’ve never won, I’m a 6-time loser. And that’s OK. I’ll take it.