I’m watching “Celebrity Charades” right now on AMC and enjoying it quite a bit.
The show is inspired by some real-life charade dinner parties hosted by actors Chad Lowe, Hilary Swank and Bob Balaban. Some of you are immediately flashing back to “Win, Lose or Draw,” the cheesy 80s-era game show produced by Burt Reynolds and Bert Convy and based on the Pictionary-like game Burt & Bert played among friends and family. But “Celebrity Charades” is nothing like that. It’s not shot as a game show, in a TV studio, with a live audience. It’s shot in documentary style in a New York loft, with handheld cameras following the participants as they run from room to room.
The running is required because of the rules of this particular game. There are two teams, each composed of five celebrities (there are actually 11 participants, since the actors take turns playing tournament director). The teams are playing simultaneously in separate rooms. Each team sends a player to run to the tournament director for a movie title. Each room works on the same five titles, in the same sequence. After a title is guessed, the person who guessed it must run to the tournament director for the next title. After a team has guessed all five titles, they must then guess the common thread that connects them. The first team to guess the theme wins the game.
The players on tonight’s episode included Balaban, Steve Guttenberg, Julianna Marguiles and Robert Klein. Amusingly, in one of the cinema verite mingling-around shots at the beginning of the show, Balaban innocently introduces Fisher Stevens to Guttenberg. After Stevens and Guttenberg give each other a friendly hug, Guttenberg explains to Balaban that they were in the movie “Short Circuit” together.
That, actually, is what makes this watchable; obviously, there were cameras present and the celebrities realized they were playing on a TV show for charity, but nobody acted like game show contestants. They cursed (bleeped out, of course) and kibbitzed and self-deprecated and seemed to be having a genuinely good time.
The show is running every night this week at 9 p.m. Eastern / 8 p.m. Central on AMC. It’s worth checking out.