"Mob scene" has an extra meaning now.
The concept of flash mobs -- large groups that celebrate via elaborate, secretly planned song-and dance routines, whether at weddings or in shopping malls -- gets a spotlight in "Mobbed," a new Fox special airing Thursday, March 31.
Actor-comedian Howie Mandel is the host of the show and also one of its creators and executive producers. The result echoes the effect of Mandel's past "Deal or No Deal" game show work, as he advises people on catching others by surprise.
"I've been a fan of them for years now," Mandel says of flash mobs. "I spend hours, maybe too many, on YouTube. My funny bone is always tickled by whatever happens in the real world that is unexpected. I was fascinated by how many of these there were; even those that weren't that inventive were getting hits in the millions."
For "Mobbed," Mandel amped up the idea: "We needed a reason for doing a flash mob, and that was to deliver a message. What if you had a secret you wanted to tell somebody? That you want to marry someone? That you want to fire someone? That you're pregnant? Employ us to put that message together, and we will deliver it and watch the reaction."
Someone who's staged a flash mob is Elaine Hume Peake, news director of WTEN-TV in Albany, N.Y. She did it last month for her husband Christopher's 65th birthday, with the crowd rendering Bobby Darin's standard "Beyond the Sea."
"This happened because I saw a piece on (ABC's) 'Good Morning America,' " says Peake about a report on a wedding-related flash mob at Boston's Prudential Center. "I had tears in my eyes. You have to choreograph a certain part of this, then you just have to let it happen. The spontaneous part makes it beautiful."
The outcome is on YouTube as "Flash Mob Wilton Mall," and Peake advises, "Know your audience." Her spouse was open to the idea, as were many others.
"It makes people happy," she notes. "I saw the smiles, and people were like, 'Wow! What is this?' It's fun when you walk into something you don't expect."
Fox gives flash mobs their due in 'Mobbed'