Thursday, January 01, 2009

ABC hastens call on 'Bingo Night', By JOSEF ADALIAN - Variety - 13th March 2007

ABC is betting big on bingo.

Net that struck it big with "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" is fast-tracking production on six episodes of "National Bingo Night," a primetime gameshow that will give viewers the chance to win major prizes by playing along a home.

Andrew Glassman ("Average Joe") created and will exec produce the skein via his Glassman Media shingle.

VP: not Grandma's game

Alphabet isn't wasting any time getting "Bingo" on the air, scheduling it to air Fridays at 9 p.m., starting May 18. Ed Sanders ("Extreme Makeover: Home Edition") will host.

"The feel of the show is like a slot machine on your television," ABC senior VP of alternative John Saade told Daily Variety. "It's colorful and fast-moving. It doesn't look like Grandma's bingo."

Skein will be set on what's being called a "bingoplex," an ultrasleek set that features what Saade called a "terrifyingly large" mechanism for dispensing the bingo balls.

Interactivity has become a major buzzword in network circles in the past year, with all the webs now adding "text and win" game elements to their primetime reality skeins.

ABC's "Bingo" will be lower-tech, allowing anyone with a computer and a printer to simply print out a special bingo card from ABC.com and play along at home. Winners will redeem their prizes -- gift certificates, coupons, merchandise -- online.

Saade said the net is exploring alternate distribution methods for viewers without computer access.

For auds who don't want to play along, there will be a parallel onscreen, in-studio game that unfolds as the bingo numbers are being called.

"The contestant is playing a slightly different game (than the viewer) that's related to the numbers coming down the chute," Saade said. That contestant will be playing against the in-studio audience for a chance at a major cash prize.

Each hourlong episode will feature three games of bingo.

Saade said Glassman came in and pitched his idea last year.

"We had been looking for the right interactive idea, and this one was so simple and clean," he said. "It couldn't be easier."

ABC is hoping "Bingo" can serve as a long-term solution to its Friday night woes.

"I think Friday night works well for this show," Saade said. "It's a fun time for people to watch with their families. This feels like a kickoff to the weekend."

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