BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Don't bother asking new Price is Right host Drew Carey about the recent firing of the show's executive producer Roger Dobkowitz after 36 years or about rumors that network executives are planning an extensive overhaul of the program's look.
Because, according to Carey, he's just about the last person to know anything that happens on the venerated CBS game show.
"I get totally left out of any discussions. I didn't find out about Roger until the night before," said Carey on Friday at a CBS party for TV critics here.
"When you want to know about what happened on a show, how are they changing things, what are they going to do — I'm the last person they tell," he added, sounding a little dejected while noting he has tried to offer ideas with little success. "I just show up and they push me onstage."
CBS Entertainment head Nina Tassler denied the network planned any extensive changes beyond putting a "fresh coat of paint" on the production with upgraded elements to the set and some new dollar amounts in some games.
"When Drew started this year, the refurbishment was already done," she said, noting of the producer's departure. "We were finding a way to bring in somebody who might be more Drew's guy."
Which was news to Carey, who said he got along with his producer and was surprised by the move. Carey also noted that the recent version of the nighttime Price Is Right Million-Dollar Spectacular made insurance executives nervous, handing out $3-million over the first four tapings.
"They wanted to put as much pressure on the contestant and make it as difficult as possible so they don't have to give away a million dollars," Carey said. "I think it's going to be harder to win a million bucks — because that $3-million in four shows, scared the heck out of them. That's a whole lot of money. We had to jump through some hoops just to get insurance for the next round of tapings."
The comic also lamented lacking the time or energy to pull together a full-fledged return to standup comedy — mostly because the money is so good.
"Larry the Cable Guy, in 2006 according to the Wall Street Journal, made $21-million," he said. "Find a person on TV making $21-million a year. Can you imagine how much money Chris Rock is making playing the Staples Center (in Los Angeles)? You can't make that money making movies — unless you're Will Smith, and they already got a Will Smith."
Carey's other problem with returning to standup: his life is going too well. "(Stand up comedy) is harder to do when you're not desperate for laughs — like I used to be. That's the kind of thing where you really have to be hungry to do it well, and if I do it, I really want to do it well."
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For four years, John Henson hosted the E! channel's criminally overlooked reality TV satire show, Talk Soup (now known as The Soup) — filling shoes once occupied by big-time movie actor Greg Kinnear with snarky comments about people stupid enough to go on shows such as Fear Factor and Big Brother.
So why is he now hosting ABC's hit summer reality TV competition show Wipeout, featuring contestants jumping across the world's largest obstacle course, featuring everything from mud pits to huge rubber balls — something he would have lampooned mercilessly nine years ago?
"The first episode was on The Soup," Henson said, laughing during a reception thrown by ABC for TV critics Thursday. "I thought to myself … my life has come full circle."
Still, Henson has a simple explanation for the success of Wipeout, which debuted last month as the summer's most-watched new series with 10-million viewers.
"The Internet and YouTube have really shortened attention spans," Henson said "And this is the kind of program you can just watch and let it wash over you. It's not like Lost, where you have to worry about paying attention or missing something."