'Spell-Mageddon': Alfonso Ribeiro hosts 'Wipeout'-style spelling bee

How do you spell "fun for all ages"?

If you're ABC, you spell it "W-I-P-E-O-U-T," and if you're sister channel ABC Family, you take the winning "Wipeout" formula and add a spelling bee. Yes, a spelling bee.

The result is "Spell-Mageddon," a new game show premiering Wednesday, July 24, on the cablenet. Contestants attempt to spell common words while being challenged by such distractions as getting dunked in a tank, zapped by a dog training collar, or hit with slime or slush.

Host Alfonso Ribeiro, known to a generation as Will Smith's uber-preppy cousin Carlton on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," says the family-friendly nature of the show was definitely a selling point for him.

"I think kids are going to enjoy watching their teachers and their parents and other adults have these things done to them," he tells Zap2it. "It really does have somewhat of that 'Wipeout' feel that I know the kids really love, like my daughter loves that show, and she's loving watching this happen here. ... I think the distraction part and all the crazy stuff that happens while they're doing it is something that I think all ages can enjoy.

"That's really important," he continues. "I think reality has kind of gone to a place where we've lost the game show aspect. Twenty, 30 years ago there was always game shows that people sat down before dinner and watched ... and it's like we've kind of lost that area, and ... that's what (ABC Family is) doing with this show, is really giving them something that everybody can sit down and watch together and truly enjoy it."

Inquiring minds want to know: Will there be a "Carlton Dance" challenge?

"Uh, no," Ribeiro says with a good-natured chuckle. "I think we leave the past in the past."
Photo/Video credit: ABC Family