Source: Hollywood Reporter
The Gong Show has found its host.
Sony’s reboot, which is being produced for ABC by Will Arnett’s Electric Avenue, has tapped an unconventional emcee befitting the nostalgic talent show. And while no party involved will cop to it, that host is believed to be Mike Myers. In a twist without much precedent, the comedian behind Wayne’s World and Austin Powers seems to be going full method for the gig. His name is unlikely to be found on any literature, promotions or even credits tied to The Gong Show. No, the host is technically “Tommy Maitland,” an elaborate character created for the sole purpose of stepping into the Gong Show role once famously filled by the late Chuck Barris.
The variety show, which will premiere with much fanfare June 22, is being filled out by an impressive rotation of celebrity guest judges, who will appear as themselves. In addition to Arnett, who will turn up in multiple episodes, Zach Galifianakis, Alison Brie, Andy Samberg, Elizabeth Banks, Joel McHale, Dana Carvey, Will Forte, Jack Black and Anthony Anderson are among the others. Each is expected to praise, critique and “gong” the contestants, as those on the original did some four decades earlier. The series, which also counts Den of Thieves and Principato Young as producers, is the latest retro game show reboot for ABC. Of late, the network has found success with Celebrity Family Feud, Match Game and $100,000 Pyramid.
“I’ve been a huge fan of Tommy since I first saw his stand-up in the UK while traveling as a teenager. He was so funny and original. I had the good fortune to cross paths with Tommy a few years ago and ever since we’ve talked about working together,” said Arnett, playing into the gag. “I tried for years to come up with a vehicle that was suitable to expose his immense talent on a bigger stage, and The Gong Show is the perfect fit.”
Maitland not only has an extensive backstory but also a wide-ranging social media footprint via @MrTommyMaitland. Highlights of his biography include a teenage stint in the British Army, a cult following in Italy thanks to a collection of spaghetti westerns and a few James Bond knock-offs and numerous past credits hosting other game shows — including the unfortunately-titled Australian project Dingos Got the Baby.
The Gong Show seems to be a return from retirement for the 72-year-old U.K. native, who is the first to admit he’s doing the variety show for the money. With a sing-song British accent, “Maitland” spoke by phone about his aspirations, his catch phrases and what he can’t wait to do here in Los Angeles.