GSN Debate Gets an Arnold

Aug 18, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Actor Gary Coleman and adult-film star Mary Carey will be among the five California gubernatorial recall candidates to appear on Game Show Network’s election spoof, “Who Wants to Be Governor of California? The Debating Game.”
Former MTV VJ Kennedy, who currently appears on GSN’s “Friend or Foe?” will host.
“Nobody thought we could get Arnold, but we did,” said GSN President and CEO Rich Cronin, referring to Mr. Coleman’s years as `Arnold’ on “Diff’rent Strokes.” “[And] we’re thrilled that Maria Shriver is not the only Kennedy woman associated with this election.”
The special is billed as the first political debate ever produced game-show style. Five actual candidates in the California governor’s race will answer questions about California politics and trivia. The winning contestant will receive $21,200-the maximum corporate campaign contribution allowed under California law.
GSN has yet to choose the remaining three contestants.
“This gives me a chance to get my ideas out there,” said Ms. Carey, whose campaign promises includes wiring the governor’s mansion with Web cams. “Politics is very boring. We’re making politics more fun. I registered a whole bunch of strippers and porn stars who were never registered before.”
Mr. Cronin said the show, which airs Oct. 1, will give underdog candidates a chance to make their case with viewers. “And according to the latest polls, Gray Davis is an underdog, so we will consider him,” he joked.
GSN will also use the special to drive viewers to its Web site, which will have online polls about the recall and an interface that allows users to play “Who Wants to Be Governor of California?” along with the contestants.
“Politics is the ultimate game, and the California recall election is one of the most bizarre contests in American history,” Mr. Cronin said. “While our state has serious problems, our viewers appreciate light-hearted game-related entertainment, and this strange election provides GSN with a rare opportunity to allow some of the candidates to debate in a unique new format.”
Mr. Cronin took pains to emphasize the show is “for entertainment purposes only,” and should the winner be elected governor, his network will not ask for political favors in exchange for the prize money. “We had teams of lawyers looking at [Federal Communications Commission] issues, California issues,” he said. “We want to be completely legit, which we are.”