It's “game on” again for Ellen DeGeneres, and also for players who may be headed for a fall.
Dropping out of the contest – literally – is a feature of “Ellen's Game of Games,” beginning its second NBC season tonight. The well-rated show had a December holiday edition, but new games are added as 30-time Emmy winner DeGeneres again puts competitors to various tests as a timer counts down to zero. Those who complete the tasks can win big money ... and those who don't? Well, the floor really drops out from under them.
DeGeneres originated some “Game of Games” elements on her popular, syndicated weekday talk show, and she admits that she's always surprised when a new venture succeeds.
“I go in with optimistic hopes of what it should accomplish, but you just never know what people are going to respond to,” she says. “We know people love the games on the (daytime) show, and I've always wanted to do a variety show, but I think this is even better.
“It's just huge, crazy games that everybody can enjoy. It's not like there's a certain sensibility to it, like kids won't 'get' it. I think that's why it's doing so well. Every age group loves watching it.”
DeGeneres likes seeing what happens herself as “Game of Games” unfolds.
“It's a lot of energy,” she notes. “The players are all excited because they possibly could win $100,000. That'll give you energy. Then, there's the adrenaline going through their bodies because they're playing these games. And I enjoy watching that.”
Along with the show's staff, DeGeneres takes every precaution to make sure contestants aren't hurt when they plunge through the floor: “It's more fun when they have the anticipation that they have another couple of seconds ... and that's when I like to drop 'em. Ultimately, it's fun for them, too. Maybe not in the moment, but it's fun later.”
Among the new “Game of Games” challenges is “Mount St. Ellen,” of which its namesake reports, “I get to control the height and the steepness of the mountain, and it's slippery. Some games are just fun to watch anytime, but we like to change it up every season.”
Also an executive producer of the ABC sitcom “Splitting Up Together,” DeGeneres' name is on NBC's “Little Big Shots,” too. That series has roots in her on-air dealings with youngsters, but she isn't concerned about overextending her weekday segments by making them their own shows.
“When they're on my (daytime) show, it's four or five minutes,” she reasons. “If we can have that much in an hour, it's pretty impressive, so I don't worry about thinning it out too much.”