'Still Standing' is a show to fall for
If you have a bunch of friends or family showing up the week before Christmas, and you can't figure out how to amuse them in the evenings, NBC may have just the ticket.
On Monday, the hourlong game show "Who's Still Standing?" premieres at 8 p.m. and airs each night through Thursday. It then settles into its regular slot on Monday, Dec. 26, and airs weekly through Jan. 30.
It's based on a hit Israeli format called "Still Standing," which premiered on Israel's Channel 10 last December and has versions already airing in other countries.
Here, he's still asking trivia questions, but the contestants are standing on platforms, with a main competitor going head to head against one of 10 challengers in a trivia duel that can lead to a $1 million jackpot.
If a contestant gets a question wrong, he or she drops through the platform into the murky depths under the stage.
"We'll never show what they land into," says executive producer Craig Plestis, sitting in the show's green room at the historic Sunset Gower Studios in Hollywood. "You'll just see them falling down. The mystery for the TV audience is, 'What do they fall into? What happens?' Put a pop quiz out there. What do you think they fell into? Piranhas?"
OK, an understage tour revealed that it's not piranhas. And even though some contestants may choose to wear short skirts, there aren't going to be any wardrobe malfunctions on the way down. This is a family-friendly show.
"Everybody has Spanx or something," Plestis says. "We're never going to see that stuff. . . .
"I have a 15-year-old daughter. She loves to watch this with her friends. I love that. You laugh, and you activate the brain. . . . I think we've approved over 5,000 questions so far. We've been up late. Everything has to be researched."
For Bailey, he's still the host of a trivia game show, but he no longer has to worry about moving violations.
"I'm liking it a lot," he says, taking a break between episodes in an alleyway behind the soundstage. "I don't have to drive a car. I don't have anyone talking in my ear. I just get to have some fun. It's kind of like a stand-up show.
"I'm a comedian. I've been doing stand-up for a long time. I've developed these different personalities. Like, stand-up is different than who I am normally; 'Cash Cab' is a little different from that.
"So, this, for me, is the perfect mix of both. There's a live audience, so I feel like I'm at a stand-up show. There's trivia, which is fun. Obviously, it's fun to watch people drop through the floor, which is cool."
The last contestant standing has an option -- he or she can walk out or fall out. Some choose the drop; some don't.
On this particular day, the winner opted to skip the fall.
"He made a good point," Bailey says. "He earned it. He said, 'I'm going to walk out of here.' I'd say it's about half and half . So far, the audience hasn't swayed anybody, but they have started chanting. They're trying to get people to drop. It started yesterday. The audiences just seem to take on their own personalities. They're chanting, 'Drop her! Drop her!' And I'm saying, 'Do you want to walk through the door or drop through the floor?' It's getting really fun."
Plestis also thinks the folks at home will have fun.
"This show," he says, "the beauty of it, it's enjoyable. It's great questions. It goes on nonstop with the questions. You can go on for 30 questions in a row, nonstop. And you can play along.
"There's not enough play-along on network game shows. This is probably one of the few network shows that you can play along with. I love that aspect. I love trivia. And when someone drops, it's pure gold. It's pure, solid gold. It's actually real jeopardy for the contestants."
But, alas, not yet for Bailey.
"I haven't tried it," Bailey says. "They won't let me do it. When everything is done, I can try it. I'll get to do all the fun stuff that might injure me and slow down production. I can't wait to try it. I really want to do it. Just now, I was saying to the stage manager, 'Come on, man, put me on a door! I want to go through the floor.' "