Will Game Show Network win with Bible trivia?
Comedian Jeff Foxworthy is hosting a new prime-time quiz, the American Bible Challenge, on the Game Show Network. Will a contest based on the world's all-time bestseller draw the same audiences as The Price Is Right, Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune?
BY: Rob Kerby, Senior Editor
rattle off the Seven Churches of Revelation’s Chapter 2.
After all, for decades Sunday schools, children’s church, Wednesday night youth groups, church camps and overnight retreats have featured “Bible Bowl,” “Bible Trivia” and “Sword Drill” contests and their many variations.
“A good game show can last for many, many, many decades,” says network executive Bob Boden. “Price is Right is a perfect example. Price is Right’s core skill and core play along value is about what things cost. And everybody, everybody relates to that. That’s a show that can go on forever. They’ve created a variety of game formats within the show — over 70 to date and each one of them is, in and of itself, compelling and engaging. Wheel of Fortune is a very simple game, a childhood game that everybody remembers, hangman, combined with a tremendous spectacle of shopping, winning money. In its current incarnation, big, big prizes for solving puzzles. It’s a show that will be on for quite a long time. Jeopardy is a show that very simply portrays human intelligence and everybody either wants to be smart or thinks they are smart or is enamored by people who are smart.
“And no matter how you watch Jeopardy, whatever of those three ways you watch it, or in a given episode, it could be all three. Family Feud is a show that you cannot help watching without yelling at the TV. You just can’t. Every time a question is asked you have an answer for it and you can’t believe that the people on the show didn’t give your answer.”
The American Bible Challenge has the same potential.
A casting call in Texas for the new show was a no-brainer says David Schiff, senior vice president of programming and development. Explaining in his best TV jargon, he says Dallas was an easy choice since “we have a big Southern skew, we have a big African American audience, and we want to go to where our audience is. There’s a big faith-based community as well, and we like what Dallas represents.”
Auditions have also taken place in Atlanta, Los Angeles and Chicago.
But the American Bible Challenge will have a twist. Nobody’s going to become a millionaire. Instead, winners become philanthropists. They give away every cent they earn. And part of the audition is selling the producers on the contestant’s favorite causes.
Schiff admits that making the Bible into a game show is potentially controversial, but after all, “the Bible is the most popular book of all time. Period, end of sentence. There’s no denying that it has an incredibly continuing relevance in hundreds of millions of lives. We believe it is perfectly acceptable for us to take that material and those facts and turn it into a game. We’re excited about this, and we have the ultimate confidence that this is going to be a really well-received series.”
Eighteen teams of three contestants will play in the first six episodes. Only six winning teams will advance to the seventh and eighth episodes. In the ninth and final show, one winning team will triumph over all the others.
Contestants will answer fact-based questions about the Bible, such as “Who were the passengers on Noah’s Ark?” and “Which Apostle sliced