Hi again. I can’t get the YT links to work, so that means this interview isn’t going to be the multimedia experience my usual interviews are. I’ll deal with that later, but first, my subject for today. Today, we’re going to look into the career of Todd Newton.
I think you’ll be surprised. I know I was.
Greg Palmer: Hi, Todd. First off, we know you’re a game show host. Did you watch a lot of game shows as a kid? If so, what were your favorites?
Todd Newton: I’ve always loved game shows…the interaction and the energy. Used to watch TPIR with my grandmother.
GP: Now, your first show was Hollywood Showdown for PAX and GSN. How did you get involved with this show?
TN: I was working on a project in Spain when my agent called about it. I flew home early to make the audition because I did not want to miss out on the opportunity. I clicked well with the producers and, thankfully, was what they were looking for.
GP: What was it like working there? Do you have any experiences you’d like to share with us?
TN: I had a wonderful time on the show and established what has turned out to be a lifetime friendship with the shows producer/creator Sande Stewart. I consider Sande and Bob Barker to be my game show mentors.
GP: Your next show, and probably the one you’re most famous for, is Whammy! The All-New Press Your Luck. How did you get involved with that?
TN: We had just finished a nice run with HS and GSN was looking to do an updated version of PYL. I was available and, needless to say, very interested.
GP: Did you watch any episodes of the original with Peter Tomarken prior to the first day of work?
TN: Of course. Who hasn’t?
GP: According to my interview with him, you and Gary Kroeger were pretty good friends. He says, “It was so much fun I had to remind myself that I was getting paid.” What was it like working on the show? Do you have any experiences you’d like to share?
TN: Whammy was an absolute blast and I love watching the reruns of it even today.
GP: I’d like to go back to the “Larson’s Revenge” episode. Here you were, hosting the rematch of the century. How did you prepare for it?
TN: Well, rematch of the century may be a bit extravagant but, like most fans, I was aware of Larson and this incredible story. I did my homework and went to work. It was an exciting day for all of us.
GP: Now, here’s the main focus of why we’re all here. Whammy lasted for a year and 7 months. 2 seasons, 130 episodes. According to the Wikipedia page, many fans claim you were one of the main reasons the show failed, along with a lack of returning champions and “a prize-heavy Big Board with a sloppy arrangement of the monitors”.
TN: Greg I challenge your use of the word failure. What many people don’t realize is the difficulty and the process of even getting a show on the air at all. The show is still on television. People still tell me they love it. Everyone who worked on the show, who played on the show and who watched the show has nothing but fond memories. In my book that is a success.
GP: Todd, I think you’d be happy to know that reruns of your version are still running weekends on GSN (9:30 AM/8:30c). They’ve been running for some time now. Gary claims, “It was a really good version of the format.” Do you agree?
TN: Without question.
GP: Next, Powerball Instant Millionaire. How did you get involved with this show?
TN: This was another Sande Stewart creation and he had faith in me and my abilities.
GP: What was it like working on the show? Do you have any experiences you’d like to share?
TN: My fondest memory of this show was that it gave me my first opportunity to award a contestant a million dollars. There is nothing like being there when someone wins a life changing amount of money. That’s what I love most about what I have the pleasure of doing for a living.
GP: I’d like to discuss your work in DVD games. You “hosted” the DVD versions of The Price is Right, Press Your Luck, and Match Game. How did you get involved with all of this?
TN: Through my affiliation with Fremantle Media.
GP: What was that like? How much work actually goes into hosting a DVD game?
TN: There is quite a bit of work involved…and a lot of hot tea to keep my voice in working condition. You must provide outcomes for each and every scenario while keeping the energy up.
GP: Onto Game Show Marathon. You were the prize delivery host, and not the actual host. Ricki Lake got that job. Personally, I don’t know why she did. You were a lot more qualified. A lot more qualified. How the heck did you end up becoming just the prize delivery host? It makes no sense.
TN: This was a primetime network show. I was honored to be asked to be a part of it in any capacity.
GP: Even if you weren’t the original host, you were out there with the people delivering the prizes and bringing joy to their lives. I’m sure that brought you some satisfaction, am I right?
TN: I loved traveling the country and surprising people at home with a semi full of prizes. Does it get any better than that?
GP: Still, I can imagine you’re pretty sore that you didn’t get chosen. If Fremantle and ITV Studios did another GSM, would you want to host?
TN: I’m not “sore” about anything regarding my career. I just celebrated 20 years in TV and I’ve loved every step of the way.
GP: Back to Press Your Luck. I was shocked, and I’m sure a number of other people were, when I learned of Peter Tomarken’s sudden death. What was your reaction?
TN: Peter was a true gem. A lovely man. It was a sad day for all of us.
GP: Do you think we’ll see a Press Your Luck revival soon? And if so, would you like to host it?
TN: It[‘]s a show that will never lose its appeal and I’d love to host a revival.
GP: Moving onto The Price is Right. I’m sure this show is pretty near and dear to your heart, after being asked to do the DVD game and all. First off, besides the DVD game, I know you did the live version. What’s that like?
TN: I’ve done over 1000 performances of the live show in cities all across the nation and I love sharing the experience with other fans “loyal and true” as Bob would say.
GP: Now, when Bob Barker retired, you really went for it. You beat a lot of competition, including your brother-in-arms at GSN, Mark L. Walberg. How intense was the competition really?
TN: I don’t really believe in competition. I believe in being the best I can be. That[‘]s all any of us have control over.
GP: And then, Drew Carey became host. Now, Todd, how did you take that at the time?
TN: Again, I respected the decision and have no regrets. I did a solid job and gave it my best shot. That, to me, is a win and I am thrilled that the show is still a fan favorite.
GP: Have you seen any of Drew’s episodes? If so, what do you think?
TN: Drew’s a great guy, a talented performer and respectful of the show. I also love the new games.
GP: Should Drew be forced out or retire, would you want another shot at the job?
TN: Sure. Wouldn’t you?
GP: Now, onto your most recent work, Family Game Night. I’m hearing really good things about it. You’ve got a steady job now, you’re working with Burton Richardson, and the game sounds like a lot of fun. I’ve seen a clip of it, and I’m excited. First off, how’d you get involved with the show? What’s it like working on the show?
TN: As a father and a game show host this is the perfect marriage of who I am what I want to do. Its great watching families work together, have fun together and win together.
GP: What can we expect in the future? Are there any moments we should be looking out for?
TN: You can expect more great things! I never stop working, learning and growing. I’m traveling the world with my motivational seminars and assisting people who want to better their lives. I love sharing the philosophies that have worked so well for me in my life with others.
GP: Hopefully, the show lasts a long long time. I wish you the best of luck with it.
GP: There’s this current trend of people you wouldn’t expect hosting a game show actually hosting them. You’ve got Drew Carey on The Price is Right, Sherri Shepherd on The Newlywed Game, and Steve Harvey hosting Family Feud. Are you concerned?
TN: I’m not concerned at all. With all of the new networks in the marketplace of ideas there will always be opportunities for those who give it their all. I am on[e] of those people.
GP: Finally, what advice do you have for people who want to enter your field of work?
TN: I get lots of emails and social media messages from people who are just beginning their careers and my advice is always the same. Develop tunnel vision and an unorthodox work ethic when it comes to your goal. Leave no stone unturned and never, ever pass on an opportunity to develop your skills. True success WILL NOT happen overnight. When you do what you love every step is a treasure.
GP: Thanks for your time, Todd. Good luck with Family Game Night.
TN: Thank you Greg. All the best.
I have gained a new respect for this man.