[03/12/10 - 12:01 AM]
Interview: "Minute to Win It" Host Guy Fieri
By Jim Halterman (TFC)

Does the task of moving an Oreo cookie from your forehead to your mouth using only your face muscles sound easy? How about picking up different sized paper bags off the floor with only your mouth - and - with your feet always touching the floor? Could you do either in under a minute? "Face the Cookie" and "Bite Me" are just two of the many humorous and challenging tasks that contestants have to do in order to reach the coveted million-dollar prize on "Minute To Win It," the new game show that premieres Sunday on NBC. Host Guy Fieri took time out from wildly cheering for the contestants to talk to reporters, including our Jim Halterman, about the challenges of this show as well as how he's juggling his various Food Network projects, this new venture and his busy family life.

While the aforementioned tasks are tough, Fieri said that there was another he would deem more challenging. "I got to say I think Ping Tac Toe is to me one of the most challenging. And that's not getting up into the million dollar prize games that are at that point. But I think for the general purpose games all the way across the board Ping Tac Toe is where you've got to balance. You've got two different colored ping pong balls. You have orange... You have to bounce them. Once you land one color type, you have to switch to the other color types. So you're essentially playing tic-tac-toe against yourself. One color type has to end up in a tic-tac-toe line, you know, straight, diagonal, whatever it may be... but some folks really get it and just sit there and excel at it. So I think that would be the toughest."

One appeal of the show is the heightened level of enthusiasm Fieri brings to hosting the show which he says is genuine especially since he doesn't know what games are coming up next. "I don't want to know what the games are. I am right there with [the contestants]. I am their coach. I'm their supporter, okay? I'm the medium. And I tell them, sometimes I'll look at them and go, come on. You've got a bunch of money. Go home, you know? But I can't do it. And I have to just stand there with them."

In fact, Fieri admitted that his gut instinct is not always on the money... literally. "I've been wrong. I've told people, I thought of my - you know my heart-to-heart, they should boogie. And they haven't and they've won a lot more money. And I've stood there and thought for sure they're going to accomplish this next one and they haven't. And I've sat there and felt the sorrow."

Having been on the hosting side of the game, how would Fieri do if he were trying to accomplish the tasks on a one-minute clock? Comparing to getting caught up in the frenzy of gambling in Las Vegas he said, "I think I would be a little hard pressed to maybe take the money and run. I hope that I would have somebody there in the audience that would be cheering me on saying 'Get out of there!' You get in the groove. You get in the zone. And that's what we watched on the show as we did this is we watched some people find their zone and just crush it. So it's hard to predict. But I will tell you this. It's a lot more difficult than it looks."

Fieri also addressed comparisons he's heard about a UK game show called "The Cube." While he says he hasn't seen the show he so believes in "Minute To Win It" and feels certain that people are going to love it because of the way it pulls everyone in to want to try the tasks. "I mean this show is about as compelling as anybody could imagine and here's why. Here's what I think the simple basic of it is. I think I can sit there when my 13 year old son sits there and watches the competition, and as soon as the competition is over, he bumps me and says 'Hey, during commercial can I go do that?' And when they can feel that... and when people watch these sizzle reels and they go 'Now, explain to me, what's so difficult about that?' Okay, well here you go, let me put this paper bag on the ground and without using your hands bend down and pick it up with your mouth."

Saying that he'd love the show to run for many years, Fieri also explained how much gratitude he has for landing the host gig even when he's known mostly for hosting food-related shows such as "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" and "Ultimate Recipe Showdown." "I'm amazed," he said. "I appreciate the opportunity because I am a chef and a restaurant owner, a dad. I've got other things going on and to be chosen to do this... I'll just tell it to you this way. You couldn't have designed a game ever that was going to be more fitting to me and my style than this. And that's not just a cliche statement. I mean I don't know what you could have called the game. But this right here, this is how - this is what - you know this is how - this is me."

Comparing his various jobs, Fieri added, "Anything that has to do with people and seeing people excel and seeing people sit in great opportunity albeit in a diner situation where we're highlighting our food or be it in a 'Minute To Win It' situation where they have a chance to win a million dollars... to be the dude that gets to kick it there and kind of like participate, be the coach, be the encourager, be the whatever you want to call it is awesome." And speaking of his notorious enthusiasm, he added, "I love going to my kid's soccer games but this is like 12 hours of soccer game a day."

With such a busy professional and personal life (Fieri and his wife Lori have two boys, ages 13 and 4), how is he juggling it all? "I would tell you it's a handful," he said, "but we went down and shot the show in January. And the team was so organized and so put together we got down, and knocked it out real quick. So it wasn't as big as the show is and as many shows as we shot it wasn't as difficult to pull it off as someone might think... three shows on Food Network and then primetime on NBC is a lot."

Sounding like the epitome of the family man, Fieri said there is one main reason he is taking on so much at this point in his life and career even if it means he's lost the majority of his 'Guy-time.' "I'm now really working for the future of my kids. I mean the world is going to continue to become a more interesting place to live in and I want to do as much as I can just to secure their future. So that's the balancing piece. But it's my family, and without a question my heart is with my family first. Then my career and then Guy takes a back seat. We'll have a few years here down the road here where Guy will start to take the lead or Guy will start to get back involved."

The two-hour premiere of "Minute To Win It" airs this Sunday on NBC at 7:00/6:00c and then will air one-hour episodes every Sunday at 8:00/7:00c beginning March 21.

  [march 2010]  


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