4:17pm PT by Michael O'Connell
Neil Patrick Harris: 'Best Time Ever' Is Not 'Knock Knock Live'
There's no proper pilot for Neil Patrick Harris' upcoming live show, Best Time Ever, so the celebrated multihyphenate struggled when asked to describe what the show will look like exactly when it premieres Sept. 15 during his Thursday appearance at the Television Critics Association summer press tour.
He can tell you that it won't be Knock Knock Live. When asked how Best Time Ever will stand apart from Fox's similar and swiftly axed Ryan Seacrest vehicle, Harris was very candid. "I didn't even watch Knock Knock. ... I didn't even know it was on," he admitted, sharing the sentiments of so many who didn't catch the low-rated reality show. "I don't say that as a backhanded anything. What they did was ambitious."
But what they did was admittedly experimental, and Harris expressed apprehension about unleashing anything that isn't, as he sees it, a proven formula. In his corner is the fact that his show is based on British series Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway and boasts its executive producer, Siobhan Greene.
"We have a new set and a new look — and I'm not two people, contrary to popular opinion, so I'll have a sidekick, not a partner," said Harris, emphasizing that the show's variety elements all have been tested. "I think an audience needs to be entertained, as opposed to [being] a litmus test for entertainment."
Harris clearly is struggling with the secrecy around the show, though he did let slip that both Ricky Martin and Reese Witherspoon have been booked to appear. "All of us will be seeing it together for the first time on Sept. 15," he said. "It feels to me more pressure in anticipation because it's a blind commit in some ways. We don't want to reveal every single thing. We're holding a lot of cards close to our vest because that's what's going to make it exciting."
His last full-time TV gig (CBS' How I Met Your Mother) now a year behind him, Harris last was seen hosting the Academy Awards. He's aware of his less-than-stellar reviews. And when pushed about the experience, he seemed to take the criticism in stride.
"I was so honored to have been asked to be part of it, truly," he said. "It's a rare ask, and it's a lot of effort that goes into something that, at the end of the day, becomes inconsequential. I'd do it again, if I was asked."