Howie Mandel on 'Take It All': New Game Show Is a 'White Elephant' Gift Exchange on 'Steroids' (Video)
Howie Mandel is hoping to capture game-show lightning in a bottle once again with Take It All.
The show, debuting at 9 p.m. Monday after The Voice, takes the notion of a "white elephant" gift exchange and ups the ante with prizes worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, including luxury cars, exotic trips and jewelry. Each contestant selects and opens a prize, and the next player must choose whether to steal a prize already revealed or take a chance on an unopened one that might be worth less. Players are eliminated in rounds until the final two are forced to make "a life-changing choice."
"It's stressful and emotional and the biggest social experiment I've ever been a part of," Mandel tells The Hollywood Reporter. "It's so much fun. It's scary and crazy and amazing. It's The Price Is Right meets Deal or No Deal meets Jerry Springer."
Mandel says he has had several offers to host game shows since Deal or No Deal ended in 2010, but he wasn't interested in a show that involved physical challenges or trivia contests, instead preferring something with a broader appeal.
"If you are not interested in that physical element or not a trivia buff or know nothing about the subject -- I feel personally somewhat excluded," he says.
He wanted something that was more of what he calls a "social experiment," a la Deal, wherein contestants are put in pressure-filled situations requiring them to make potentially costly decisions that also could generate emotional reactions from the viewers at home as they get caught up in what the players are doing.
"What happened with Deal is, I don't care if you're 7 years old or if English is your second language, anyone could play the game," Mandel says. "Anyone can relate to the pressure and stress that people are under. You scream at your TV. Some people get angry."
Take It All (previously known as Howie Mandel's White Elephant) was developed at Mandel's company, Alevy Productions. Mandel had not previously been familiar with the "white elephant" gift exchange, but after being introduced to the concept, he was surprised that no one had already adapted it for TV.
"It's based on this social experiment that really is at the center of most people's [holiday] parties," he says. "What if we put it on steroids? Gift cards and vacations and hover crafts and submarines and jet packs and hundreds of thousand of dollars worth of prizes. Would the gamemanship come out and would their wits be taken right to the edge? Lo and behold, people are screaming and crying and fainting."
In the end, the two final players can try to bluff each other to try to take all the prizes home, or they can potentially each keep what they've won so far -- or even lose everything. Viewers at home also can play along with the possibility of winning $10,000.
Like Deal or No Deal -- which became a hit when it debuted in 2005, running for five years and spawning a syndicated version -- Take It All is debuting as a weeklong strip, airing at 9 p.m. Monday-Friday, with a final installment airing Monday, Dec. 17. Mandel is hopeful that, in success, the network might order more episodes.
"As far as hosting the game, I couldn't be more excited," he says. "Until this point, I thought we set the bar high with Deal, but I think we hit the bar and may surpass it with this game."
In addition to hosting, Mandel is an executive producer on the show, which is from Universal TV and Alevy Productions, alongside Scott St. John and Mike Marks.
Watch a preview below.