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
off somebody’s ear with a sword when trying to prevent Jesus’ arrest?”
The show’s slogan is “If you don’t know the Bible, you haven’t got a prayer.”
Schiff says you also don’t have to be a biblical scholar, however a head for biblical trivia won’t hurt. Can you recite the names of the 12 Disciples? Can you identify the first person to see Jesus after His resurrection? Which words describe Delilah: a) A high priestess of Baal; b) Peter and Andrew’s mother; c) Samson’s barber; or d) the author of the Song of Solomon?
But is there enough interest in the Bible today to create a game show around it?
“We knew in Los Angeles when we did our first casting call that we had a hit on our hands,” says Schiff. “So many teenagers and 20-somethings showed up — which was not at all what we’d expected. Some of them had jailhouse tattoos, others spray-on tans. We had retirees and professionals and little kids – all possible demographics.
“We’ve heard moms and dads say ‘There is so little that we can do as a shared experience as a family these days’ – there’s nothing on TV that the family can watch together. This is the first show in a very long time that will transcend generations – ages 8 to 80 watching together and shouting the answer at the screen. When you see these people and hear the stories of our contestants, you know that America is going to fall in love with this show.
“Some have faced very difficult challenges in their lives. Others are just ordinary people like you and me. Some of them have been through terrible times and hit rock bottom. That brought them to their faith, which is very real to them. They love the Bible. They love its stories and its heroes.
“You know, you hear these days that there are so very few role models,” said Schiff. “Well, you are going to fall in love with some of our contestants. You are going to be inspired by what some of them are doing in their day-to-day lives to help other people. The neat thing about this game is they are using their Bible knowledge to go out and be an agent of change in the world.”
And, yes, none of the contestants get to keep the money they win.
“That’s right,” chuckles Schiff. “Nobody gets to keep the money. But look at the people standing in line to be contestants. Some of them have been here for hours before we even opened, waiting to register, knowing full well that they’re not going to get rich. They’re winning money for a charity that is near to their hearts.”
How did GSN land Foxworthy?
“He is our dream host,” says Schiff. “We weren’t sure we could get him because he’s a very busy guy obviously. But to find somebody who is so endearing and appealing to the public. He’s hilarious and talented, but he is also somebody whose faith is so authentic. He lives his faith. When he talks about his faith and its role in his life, it comes though as being so real. So combine that with his great sense of humor and how warm he is with the contestants, he is absolutely perfect.”
Is the Game Show Network stepping out on a limb with this? Isn’t a game show based on the Bible risky?
“I actually don’t believe that it is,” says Schiff. “This is a show where everybody is invited to watch, everybody is invited to join in. The Bible’s significance as a significant part of world culture no matter what your belief system is. The beauty of the Bible is that it weaves in history and geography and mythology and art and music and language. There’s so much here in this tapestry that I think the people who have never gone to a Sunday school or who haven’t been – in my case, in many years – will find the show very educational, very interesting, very provocative and very inclusive.
“We don’t want to exclude anybody and we have not.
“The purpose of this show is to entertain, not convert anybody. We invite everybody to come in and celebrate this piece of cultural history and enjoy the fun of fascinating, enthusiastic contestants whose hearts are obviously in the right place – and who you’re going find yourself cheering for – praying they’ll win the big money for a great cause that is so important to them.”