Howie Mandel: By any name, 'Take It All' is all about the endgame
Seen in recent years as a judge on NBC's "America's Got Talent," the comedian stays with that network as he returns to contest hosting -- which brought him "Deal or No Deal" success -- with "Take It All," a holiday-season event that runs each weeknight over one week starting Monday, Dec. 10.
The premise may seem familiar. "When I pitched the show, I knew it as the 'white elephant' game," Mandel, also an executive producer of the show, tells Zap2it. Then I found out a friend on the East Coast called it 'Yankee swap.' Then I found out that some other friends called it 'secret Santa' ... but 'Take It All' is what the game is, which really comes down to the endgame.
"It's about risk and fear and luck, elements in any game I've done. The simplicity of the game is what propels it, and getting close to the holiday season, I realized this is a game everybody plays anyway. And how come nobody has televised it?"
"Take It All" involves big-money prizes -- including, per Mandel, such game-show rarities as a hovercraft -- as players mull whether to keep the winnings they have or trade for potentially bigger ones. Whether one, none or both of the finalists decide to "take it all" determines who goes home with what. Which can be nothing.
" 'Deal or No Deal' was you versus 'The Banker,' but ultimately, it's you versus the game," Mandel reasons. "What's great to watch here is the tension, the excitement and the competition, which is beyond anything I've ever seen on television. The only skill needed is to not end up with the prize that has the least value."
If "Take It All" takes off during its one-week tryout, it's all but certain NBC will want it back. Mandel doesn't believe more-frequent airings would harm it.
"You want to break through the clutter of everything else that's on the air," he notes. "The fact that we have this event, where it will go every night, speaks to the faith NBC has in this. To get this many nights in one week of network television given to you is invaluable."