The mind behind '101 Ways to Leave a Game Show'


Last Tuesday, ABC premiered "101 Ways to Leave a Game Show," the American version of a U.K. production of the same name. In hopes of winning $50,000, contestants answer multiple-choice questions, with one contestant being ejected each round.

If you watched last week's show, hosted by Jeff Sutphen, you know that they just didn't wave and stroll away.

"We've taken all of the tension of your average game show," says executive producer Matt Kunitz ("Fear Factor," "Wipeout"), "and ratcheted it up 100 percent. If you're on 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,' you get the question wrong, and you just lose the money and walk off the set.

"If you're on our show, and you get just one question wrong, you're on top of the wing of an airplane, and you're flown off the set. It's scary, and it's a pretty spectacular way to leave a game show."

When Kunitz accepted the challenge of adapting "101 Ways" for an American audience, he took the title literally.

"When I take a show," he says, "a la 'Fear Factor,' as a format, I always Americanize it, and Americanizing it means making it bigger and better.

"The U.K. version, while still interesting, all takes place at one singular tower. We thought, when we shot the pilot, that doing everything on one tower is limiting. We wanted to be able to do 101 completely different ways of leaving a game show.

"So we needed to be able to get out in the field and be at a lake and be in an airport and be at a dock and be at a rock quarry and be in downtown L.A. on high buildings. We're really able to expand the brand and make it much bigger and much scarier and really up the tension on the show.

"We want every elimination to be completely unique. We're going to do 30 unique eliminations in a six-episode series."

Asked if a contestant got hurt during filming, Kunitz says, "No."

Challenged on the veracity of that statement, he says, "100 percent true. We're doing very spectacular things, but I would say the risk is minimal."

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