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Tube Talk: Celebrities playing games

July 10, 2013

By Paula Hendrickson
Contributing Writer

Jeopardy! is the only game show I really enjoy, but I seldom get a chance to watch it, since it’s on when I’m trying to work. I like the show because it’s usually intellectually challenging, but also because Jeopardy! contestants are smart when so many players on other shows can wind up looking silly, or worse, stupid.

But it’s a different story when celebrities are the ones risking total and utter humiliation. This summer, two series will showcase famous people getting goofy: Hollywood Game Night and Whose Line Is It Anyway?.

Months ago, when NBC started promoting Hollywood Game Night, I knew I’d be tuning in. The show was co-created and executive produced by former Will & Grace co-star Sean Hayes and his producing partner Todd Milliner. (Their company, Hazy Mills Productions, also produces Grimm and Hot In Cleveland as well as NBC’s fall sitcom, Sean Saves the World, which stars Hayes.)

Glee’s Jane Lynch hosts Hollywood Game Night — inspired by real-life game nights Hayes has hosted at his own home — which promises a cavalcade of celebrities, among them Kristen Bell, Daniel Dae Kim, Matthew Perry, Nick Cannon, Dax Shepard, Martin Short, Maya Rudolph, Alyson Hannigan, Lisa Kudrow, Minnie Driver, Amy Poehler, Terry Crews, Max Greenfield, Niecy Nash and Fred Armisen.

Watching two teams of three celebrities plus one “civilian” compete at a variety of unusual party games is almost as much fun as playing the games yourself.

A smaller group of celebrities will be cutting up on The CW’s reboot of the improv classic, Whose Line Is It Anyway?.

For this new version, stand-up comedian Aisha Tyler serves as the host/moderator/judge, which is the role Drew Carey held in the 1998-2005 U.S. version of the show. It’s amazing Tyler has the time, since she also co-hosts CBS’s daytime show The Talk and voices super spy Lana Kane on FX’s animated series Archer, while also playing stand-up gigs and guest starring on shows like Glee and Hawaii Five-0.

The improv skills of Ryan Stiles, Colin Mochrie and Wayne Brady made the previous incarnation an instant classic, and all three return for the updated version. Like its predecessor, the new show — which includes Stiles and Brady among its executive producers — includes a special guest star each week. Because the new version shares so much of its DNA with the earlier one, odds are it will be funny, too.

Both Hollywood Game Night and Whose Line Is It Anyway? are light, fun summer entertainment. They also earn bonus points for letting celebrities show their competitive and silly sides.

Programming notes

Hollywood Game Night premieres at 9 p.m., Thursday, July 11, on NBC.

Whose Line Is It Anyway? premieres at 7 p.m., Tuesday, July 16, on The CW.

Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy magazine and Variety, and has been published in numerous national publications, including American Bungalow, Television Week and TVGuide. Follow her on Twitter at P_Hendrickson and send your suggestions to tubetalking-paula@yahoo.com.

From the July 10-16, 2013, issue

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