March 31, 2014 7:37pm PT by Bryn Elise Sandberg
Behind the Scenes of Drew Carey, Craig Ferguson's April Fools' Day Switcheroo
Longtime friends Drew Carey and Craig Ferguson fooled their audiences on April 1 by swapping gigs -- and The Hollywood Reporter was there to witness all the insanity.
Ferguson first surprised the eager audience when he took Carey's place on stage during a Feb. 10 taping of The Price Is Right, later followed by Carey taking over Ferguson's desk during a March 21 taping of The Late Late Show.
The switch made for an even higher energy day on The Price Is Right than usual, with a slew of lively contestants, a winning streak that included more than one new car giveaway and lots of hugs -- for which Ferguson was not prepared.
The contestants may have known more about how to play the games than Ferguson did, and a few had to participate in multiple takes until the rookie host got the rules down, but that didn't dampen the room's enthusiasm.
The Scottish-born Ferguson's dry quips throughout the hourlong program made up for any hosting mishaps. "I'm sorry -- I'm not originally from this country," he joked to the audience between takes. He even brought his late-night sidekicks, the skeleton Geoff Peterson and pantomime horse Secretariat, as models.
"This show is so hard to host. Drew makes it looks easy," executive producer Mike Richards told THR. "He's very into hosting the show the way you want to host it, because he came in and hosted it the way he wanted to host it."
The switch-up provided Ferguson with a timely opportunity to stretch his game-show hosting muscles as he prepares to emcee The Celebrity Name Game in the fall. "I’m going to have to start [to get in shape] again -- like Drew," he told THR of the energy level required to keep up with the excited contestants. "Maybe it’s because it’s new, but it feels quite taxing, more taxing than I thought it was going to be, and more than running my own show."
Admitting that it's hard to prepare for the hosting experience, Carey only had one piece of advice for his friend before he took the stage: "You've just got to show up in a good mood."
"That was the hardest part for me," Ferguson joked after the taping. "See, Drew likes people. I’m a cranky loner. It’s not so good for me. I will be in a bath of Purell for two days now."
Ferguson is the fourth host of The Price Is Right, with only Dennis James, Bob Barker and Carey (as of 2007) having led contestants through the pricing games. With 42 seasons under its belt, Price is one of the longest-running game show in American television history.
Since the Carey era of the show, it's been a tradition to tape an extravagant April Fools' Day episode. One year, the producers re-created everything that had gone wrong in previous shows -- from flat screen TVs being knocked over to models driving into showcase doors and the back of the set catching on fire -- all in one episode. Another year, the models hosted and Carey took their jobs.
Price and Ferguson's show film on the same CBS lot in L.A., so the executive producers were already acquainted. This year's hosting switch was sparked in The Price Is Right's production office and finalized over a casual "Hey, do you want to do this?" text from Carey to Ferguson.
The two previously worked together on The Drew Carey Show, on which Ferguson played Carey’s English boss. In addition to Carey frequently appearing on Ferguson's Late Late Show, they also collaborated on The Big Tease, the 1999 movie written by and starring Ferguson in which Carey played himself.
As host of The Late Late Show, Carey interviewed Carl Reiner, Connie Schultz and Joan Jett, bringing his announcer George Gray and models Rachel Reynolds, Amber Lancaster and Manuela Arbelaez with him.
The Price Is Right and The Late Late Show air Apr. 1 at 10 a.m. and 12:37 a.m., respectively.