It looks like ABC is committed to preserving the “weird factor” of NBC’s classic variety show The Gong Show with their upcoming reboot, as the show’s host has unofficially been revealed and, well, he’s not who you’d expect.
In an exclusive interview, The Hollywood Reporter’s Lacey Rose spoke with newly-revealed The Gong Show host Tommy Maitland, who is actually believed to be Mike Myers in what can only be described as unsettling, Max Headroom-like makeup. There’s no official word from the network or the team behind the show, but the profile picture on his newly-created Twitter account does bear resemblance to Myers, with a hint of his “Fat Bastard” character from Austin Powers shining through. Myers appears to be going full-method approach to this role, and it’s unclear if he will ever be acknowledged in the show’s credits or promotional material as his true identity.
Hello Twitter! This is Tommy and I’m live on the Internets. I’m hosting The Gong Show on ABC next month. Bloody marvelous!
— Tommy Maitland (@MrTommyMaitland) April 28, 2017
As odd of a story as this may seem, it’s actually quite fitting for The Gong Show, often-bizarre, the always-satirical variety show originally hosted by Chuck Barris, who passed away just last month. His show featured a series of running bits, recurring characters, and risqué acts, like the mysterious masked “Unknown Comic” and the infamous “Popsicle Twins.” The original show had a constantly rotating cast of judges, and that formula will remain in the reboot, with guests like Will Forte, Elizabeth Banks, Alison Brie, Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Jack Black, Andy Samberg, Joel McHale, Anthony Anderson and Dana Carvey all planned to make appearances.
Will Arnett, whose production company Electric Avenue is producing the show, is all-in on the Maitland story, giving some backstory on how the two “met” when Arnett was just a teen. “I’ve been a huge fan of Tommy since I first saw his stand-up in the U.K. 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,” he said. “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.”
When asked what it was about The Gong Show that drew him out of retirement, the 72-year-old “Maitland” had this to say: “Well, I did have some money problems back in England. Some terrible investments, I overspent and taxation during the ’70s was a killer. And they waved a tremendous amount of cash under my nose, which for me, at this time in my life, is welcome indeed. I will retire to Malta.” Then, he asked Rose, “Do you know how to make a Maltese cross?”
“I do not,” she replied. “Punch him in the face. Punch a person from Malta in the face. I’m happy to explain all of my jokes,” he responded.