A show that longtime TV watchers will remember as one of the weirdest programs ever on TV is being revived by ABC. The network is bringing back “The Gong Show,” and announced plans this week for an open casting call as part of a nationwide talent search.
The original “Gong Show,” hosted by Chuck Barris and featuring a lineup of celebrity judges that often included Jaye P. Morgan, Jamie Farr, Arte Johnson, Rip Taylor, Phyllis Diller and Rex Reed, launched on NBC daytime in 1976 before moving into syndication. The show quickly gained a reputation for its unusual acts, along with a series of controversies, but remained on the air in some form until 1980.
The format has been resurrected a number of times, including as “Extreme Gong” on the Game Show Network in the late 1990s and as “The Gong Show with Dave Attell” on Comedy Central in the summer of 2008.
The new ABC version is being produced in partnership with Sony Pictures Television with Will Arnett executive producing.
The show’s latest announcement makes it clear that the emphasis will once again be on offbeat talent: “If you or someone you know wants the opportunity to show off your wonderfully unpredictable, strange, weird, odd, one-of-a-kind, and original acts to viewers across the country — here is your chance!”
Contestants are encouraged to apply online at www.gongshowcasting.com or to attend an open casting call Saturday, Feb. 11, at the Glendale Galleria in the Los Angeles area. The event runs 10 a.m.-3 p.m., with check-in near Dick’s Sporting Goods.
The new version of “The Gong Show” will be produced by Den of Thieves, Electric Avenue Productions and Principato Young Entertainment in association with Sony Pictures Television, and will be taped in front of a live audience. Along with Arnett, the show is executive produced by Evan Prager, Jesse Ignjatovic, Conrad Green and Peter Principato. Jared Morell, Jordan Barrow and Marc Forman will co-executive produce.
Here’s a blast from “The Gong Show’s” past …