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Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

This is an interview with Cedric The Entertainer on July 7, 2011 about the television series It's Worth What?

Cedric

Question:
What was the most memorable moment from the show that you've done so far?

Cedric The Entertainer:
Well so far I would say the most memorable moment we did, well I had a couple of them. But on the show is we brought out a live elephant in comparising the price of keeping a live elephant versus a elephant-sized diamond. And so I actually fed the elephant an apple. And then I taught the elephant how to Dougie which is a dance.

Question:
What would you say is the most important thing you learned from the time you spent on the show?

Cedric The Entertainer:
Probably one of the most important things on there is that people who go on game shows are very serious and that the that the rules of the rules of making sure that we followed the compliances. Because the thing about it is you actually as a host you're closer to the contestants than anything else. And so you're really wanting people to weigh in and you've just got to make sure that you don's trigger or give off any kind of signals that leads or misleads the people that are playing the game. And so that was the thing that I probably found that was most important for me was just trying not lead or mislead people because you wont be able to win.

Question:
What's next for you?

Cedric The Entertainer:
For me? Well I'm excited about this show, the premiere of it. And then I have a development deal with TV Land where I'm developing a show where I'm spinning off of Hot in Cleveland. And so we have that and we're developing this group right now so I'm excited about that as well.

Question:
How you would do if you were a contestant on the show?

Cedric The Entertainer:
Oh I thought I was pretty good but it was definitely times when playing this game that I realized I have no idea what stuff costs. That's what makes the game really fun and fun to watch because we all assume like we have our expertise as be it the price of women's shoes or what houses costs. And you just think that you know this. But it was a game where we had vacation rentals. And nobody knew that the Playboy Suite in Vegas was that expensive per night, like I had no idea. I was just thinking with all those Playboy bunnies and in there, yes, you probably would have to spend a lot of money.

Question:
Have you always wanted to host a show like this?

Cedric The Entertainer:
Well growing up I would say in that real golden area of TV game shows when Let's Make a Deal, The Price is Right and Match Game and all those kinds of games were really very fun to watch I was as a kid really would love the idea of being a host on a game show or being a member of the game show of some sort. So this was a great opportunity and something fun for me especially as a live entertainer, a live performer to be able to have that immediate and constant contact with someone who's playing the game and be the guy that's in charge, being the kind of ringmaster of the whole thing. And it's really fun on a show like this because you never know what's coming out next. And it's just really exciting. So I - yes I'm happy that I had this opportunity.

Question:
Do you invest at all in the contestants? Do you find that you personally connect with them at all?

Cedric The Entertainer:
You know, you do. And that's the thing you because all the contestants are they're chosen according to if they're going to bring some excitement to the show. But you find these really cool combinations, people who've been best friends for 40 years and worked together or coworker's. And so you find yourself kind of getting involved. We had one great, some contestants where it was - the landlord and tenant in one of her buildings. And their age difference was so fun to watch that you become involved. Because the older later lady who had kind of lived life she just was chest la vie about everything. She's like oh let's just do it. And the little young girl was like I need this money. And you could just see their personalities crashing. And it was hilarious. You like had to keep everybody understanding that we're playing a game and let's keep it cool. But you get involved with the contestants.

Question:
Why do you think people want to take their time to tune in and watch the show?

Cedric The Entertainer:
I think really you know we have some really interesting items. I mean in the description of the show it's like those hidden gems like all of us hope or think we have in our when we're cleaning out grandma's old chest or something to that nature we think oh man, what if I look up and have a pearl necklace from the Titanic or something, you know? And and so and on top of that we mix that in with new modern items like a brand-new Bugatti sports car comes out on stage. And some people who've seen it only in a magazine they kind of be so up close and personal to it is exciting. And I think that people would want to watch the show for that reason, just kind of finding out that curiosity of what things cost for real.

Question:
After doing this show, did it make you go into your attic or closet to search for gems of your own?

Cedric The Entertainer:
I tried to search for a few things. I was telling someone earlier I'd give very little chance to keep anything of value because before I can do my own yard sale or get anything out there, my cousins come through and rip and get my stuff. So if I had anything of value I bet you one of my relatives got it already.

Question:
How did your comedic side play into being the host of a show?

Cedric The Entertainer:
Oh again the opportunity of being a live standup and interacting with a audience like right away we got a live audience in the studio. You have natural crazy reactions from the contestants when they win or lose. And so I'm able to have some quick responses. And my comedic ability is able to be used right in there to keep the show up and light and funny and keep it moving. I thought that was a unique space for me and I had a good time doing it.

Question:
When you look back at game show hosts of the past do you think some of them would have been great comedians or do you think they were already comedians and didn't know it?

Cedric The Entertainer:
I mean yes. I mean I think Tom Bergeron is a funny. Like, I mean, he's a modern day game show host. But he's very witty and quick. You know, I've had an opportunity to be around him a few times. Gene Rayburn was interesting. But most of the time they almost came off pretty seriously. You know, you think of Monty Hall and Wink Martindale and Bob Barker. These guys were, you kind of bought them for their sincerity and kind of swag if you will. And so and so very few of them I thought could probably be funny. But I think nowadays you see a lot more of course with the Howie Mandells and the Jeff Foxworthys and all these guys and they're hosting shows and Drew Carey. You know, I think it's leaning more towards keeping the shows funny and moving and keeping that energy up.

Question:
After filming the show what do you find most funny about what things are worth?

Cedric The Entertainer:
I mean really it's the - of course it's those kind of historical things that things that create value that you would never really maybe for yourself like a chair that the queen sat in. And it's like to me it's an old chair. I'm like okay. I know what would I do with that chair? I'd probably have it in my card room. But but it's worth a half a million dollars and so maybe not. You know, you don't want to get cigar smoke on that.

Question:
What do you think brings to television that hasn't been there before?

Cedric The Entertainer:
Well I think it definitely the kind of show that it has elements of things that we've seen be it Price is Right or Let's Make a Deal, these kind of shows that where you kind of you see things and you're trying to guess what the right price is. And then I think just really my overall sense of style and humor and a runner up contestant for being sexiest man alive is going to be what's going to drive this show is

Question:
If you were to challenge the other game show host to a competition who would it be, what would you do and what would be the theme?

Cedric The Entertainer:
Oh man let me see. If I had to challenge a game show host I probably I wouldn't go up against Alex Trebek. I wouldn't do that. I'd probably would challenge Drew Carey and then we would probably do a moped race. Yes he rides a moped around town. I would just kind of cheat. I would have to outdo him in something a little more powerful.

Question:
That would be the stakes?

Cedric The Entertainer:
It would be the stakes, yes. Man, that would be fun. I wouldn't no, I'd probably I'd have to come and get some of those Price is Right girls on my show. That's what I would need, have to give up like three Price is Right girls. See I didn't get models on my show. I'm like I tried. I fought for it hard.

Question:
We know that you're actually an executive producer of the show and that you have your own company. So how do you balance all of your starring roles and being on the executive side of things?

Cedric The Entertainer:
I guess my main thing is that I really would be very involved with my brand. You know, I'd take it important to get involved creatively with the shows. And so the creators, both Lara Spencer and Roy Banks they were passionate about the show early on. And then when they brought me on as a host one of the things was to take advantage not only of just my kind of sense of humor and being a kind of front man for the show but what would make this show comfortable for me? What would be fun about it? What start coming up with ideas and getting involved in it.

So and that's where I kind of put my producer hat on is looking at the shows on overall and not just as an opportunity to either walk out and be entertaining. But what's going to make the whole show entertaining. And so I just I do that with pretty much everything I get involved in. And so that's where I kind of put that producer hat on and have those days where I go to work and do the sleeve the rollup and I'm real serious And then I'm cracking jokes the whole time.

Question:
Since you're so versatile and you have so many roles in the entertainment industry which role do you think you would most like to be recognized and known for?

Cedric The Entertainer:
I think that I love standup and then I really like this opportunity to develop television. So I'm looking for the right the right thing to hit TV with and have a really important TV show be it a sitcom or even the great success of this gang show. I would love that just to be the kind of name that people recognize as good, fun, family entertainment but a good time always.

Question:
Now that you are an executive producer and you've experienced that game show experience what have you taken away from it that you didn't have before as a producer?

Cedric The Entertainer:
Well I think the main thing is what we learn on this show is that you can have great ideas but you want the live experience to transfer to the people that are watching it on TV. And so that's usually the big thing about performing live is a lot of times is when you're there you don't have people say you had to be there. Well if you're trying to get millions of viewers then you have to actually give them that experience because you can't say oh you had to be there otherwise it would have been so much better.

And so those were the real hard things that I felt like I learned as a EPs and on this show is looking at the show and being kind of analyzing it once we're inside and saying what makes this experience fun for the other people? And so we had to go back and revamp some things and try some things. And we took elements out that show that we thought would make it speedier and more exciting to someone who's sitting at home watching it as opposed to they'd like that kind of live energy where you get to participate and yell and jump up out your seat and it's a little different so...

Question:
I'm just wondering with that experience and hosting was it easier than you thought or kind of harder than you thought?

Cedric The Entertainer:
You know, actually it is definitely a different kind of job. Because when you're hosting a show again you have the importance of making sure people are understanding the rules and the game play. At the same time you want to keep the show's energy up. You have the contestants who have human reactions especially if they lost or didn't do as well in the game that they thought they did that you have to kind of keep them up and encouraged and don't get down in the dumps because you got cameras on you looking at you. And I mean people can tell if you just really bombed out. So and I think that being a live performer allows me to kind of feel the room, feel what's going on and know how to response accordingly in an instance because I had the live performance kind of background.

Question:
Do they give you the answers ahead of time or are they giving them to you in your ear because I was always curious about that with game show hosts?

Cedric The Entertainer:
No, I actually don't get the answers ahead of time. I get them at what I'd call in the nick of time. So they will if it's necessary for me to know the answer or to say the answer I can find out. But because we do a kind of a reveal the answers on the board I'm usually kind of finding out with the people which is which is fun because in my own mind I'm playing along. I do have some advantages of seeing the products earlier and can on some occasions find out what's worth more and what's the value of a certain thing, but you know, not all of them. We have over $50 million worth of merchandise in the back there. So I don't see everything. That's the fun thing for me, is to be playing along.

Question:
Okay and can you explain how the two contestants, how - I guess how the final round works and how they get a shot at going for $1 million?

Cedric The Entertainer:
So basically the game is, you know played along where you bank your money until the final round. And we're doing it in six rounds now I believe. And so you play each round and you know, there's items, "What's worth more," put things in order from least expensive to most expensive, those kind of games are going on. And then so, you know you build up you would have the opportunity to build up to $100,000 in your bank if you did everything right. And then in the final round you can win up to ten times the amount that you have in your bank.

And the final round of the game is basically played where I give you four, what we call Collectibles, expensive items, I'll give you four collectibles and then I'll bring out four collectibles. And what you have to do is match your most expensive over my most expensive. And then you keep doing it all the way down. And then you can pick them one at a time.

So say I gave you a diamond ring and I brought out a brand new corvette; you can decide if that diamond ring is more than the corvette or if it's more than my Persian rug. And then if you pick it over the Persian rug and then you say the diamond ring is more than the Persian rug, and you say that's the one, you get to win your bank. So win you win, you win $100,000. Now the next time you have to put another one of your items over that corvette. So you say, "What do I have that costs more than that corvette?" And you keep doing that until you win ten times your amount.

That's how the game is played. And so you end up having people kind of they'll win they're bank and they can feel like they can walk away, "I've got $100,000 and that's it, I'm going to take it. And I just can't risk it," or you'll be maybe very confident that all of your items that you've chosen are more expensive than mine and you'll have four chances to run the gambit.

And so it's fun; it's fun to watch people kind of get caught up and not sure if they made the right choices. And I mean we had like, you know Elvis - I think we see that one on the promotion; you see a suit that was - belonged to Elvis and a dress that belonged to Princess Diana. And you're thinking, "Okay, what's worth more?"

You know, you would assume, "Well she's a real princess," but then you've got people who are just Elvis fanatics and who knows what they would pay for an Elvis suit that he performed in. So you know, that's where you start to go, "I'm just not sure," and you might go, "I can't risk it. I'm taking my money and I'm going to go home."

Question:
That's a good point because some items, I'm sure you don't really know what they're worth because you don't know how much people would pay for them, huh?

Cedric The Entertainer:
Yes. Oh yes, that's one of the real fun games we have on the game is Celebrity Inflation. And Celebrity Inflation is a game that is based off what someone has paid at auction for one of these items that belonged to a celebrity. And so well this is where you kind of come to find out when people have real dedicated fans. We had a toilet that belonged to John Lennon on the show, that I believe you know, sold for like $35,000 to somebody. You know, like really? John Lennon's toilet, really?

Question:
On the set, I heard they had brought out a tiger, is that true?

Cedric The Entertainer:
No; they did bring out a tiger, but the tiger was a sweetheart as far as tigers go, just a lovely animal. But the tiger was in a cage and very cool and very chill. And then the contestant, I think she just got a little overwhelmed. Again, it's one of those things where you kind of you get wound up and you're looking for the right answer and it was she and her son and I just think she just got a little she just wasn't breathing.

Little things about that excitement, and you know, and it got the best of her. It was a little warm, and so but she was fine. And we were glad everything, you know was okay. So it'd been maybe an opportunity for them to come back on the show, you know if there is a second season, which we you know, definitely most excited about.

Question:
How is hosting a game show different from hosting Comic View?

Cedric The Entertainer:
I think you know, again the hosting of the game show is one where it's just a little bit more of traffic copping as well. You just have to be aware, again, of keeping the show energetic and keeping things moving, kind of keeping people on the rules, letting them know like, "Okay, this is what we're about to do next."

You know, and then it's still very fun because you get to interact with real people. You know, these are folks that are not trying to be reality show stars, they actually love game shows and you know, their friends and coworkers and firemen, and you know, just people from slice of life that want to have an opportunity to win some money. And so you know, you get some real natural crazy reactions. So that's what makes it a little different than kind of hosting comedians and people who are, you know have a desire to be famous.

Question:
Who was probably like the most memorable contestant you've seen so far?

Cedric The Entertainer:
There was a couple in there; there was a young guy who married a woman I believe that was like 12 years older than him. But they were a cute couple, they had a really fun relationship. And he was a DJ and she met him at the club and they just, I mean they just got a kick out of each other. They played the game with great energy and I mean it was a lot of dancing and running and I mean it was hilarious. So they were probably the most memorable couple.

Question:
I'm trying to wrap my head around that. I need to see that episode.

Cedric The Entertainer:
Yes, that one's going to be a fun one. Yes they - she - and he had some dance that he would do whenever they were excited around the house. And then if he did it, she was like, "Baby you've got to do the dance, you've got to do the dance." And he was like, "I can't." And she was like, "If we win this next one you've got to promise to do the dance for me." So you know, they won the next one and he jumped off the stage and started doing this little I don't know, like a freak daddy dance. I was like, "That's really personal. You all might want to keep that at home."

Question:
Why do you feel like this show is going to be so popular?

Cedric The Entertainer:
I think you know, it has a really cool element of you know, play along. I mean that's the one thing I think that is really exciting about this game. Of course you know, I bring a sense of humor and a different brand of hosting to the show. But you know I think what I've found to be the fun part about this game is that you become engaged pretty early on, just because most of us have this kind of thing where we think we would have an idea of what things cost. Or you would go you know, "It's no way that those shoes would be more than that jacket," you know, "There's no way," you know. And so you end up getting involved. And you know, and I think that's going to be one of the key elements of our game is that it's a good play along game when you're at home.

Question:
Who was your favorite TV Game Show host growing up?

Cedric The Entertainer:
Probably for me, of course I was a big Bob Barker fan. I mean in the Midwest you just loved Bob; he was smooth and he was cool, and you know again, he's surrounded by the pretty girls always.

Question:
And he has the neatest little, like microphone too.

Cedric The Entertainer:
Yes, well of course. You know, in every Game Show host always asks for the skinny mic. And you know, and of course you know, they wouldn't let me get the skinny mic, you know so it's cool. You know, yes it's all right. You know, I was going to ice mine up a little bit, kind of you know give it a little bit of bling.

Question:
All right so it's going to be a little shiny, a little flashy?

Cedric The Entertainer:
Yes, it would have been a little frosty but you know, I didn't get a chance to do it. I actually, you know I go with a cool lavaliere.

Question:
What's your favorite element of putting this show together?

Cedric The Entertainer:
You know, for me it was like just really finding, because it was easy to go and find, like really you know, old school items. The show was taking on a Antiques Roadshow, Pawn Stars kind of energy, where there was a lot of things that you know, like people would know it was expensive diamond necklaces that belonged to royal families and those kind of things. And you know, I wanted to bring in elements that kind of brought a modern day feel to it.

Again you know, finding the great car auction company Barrett-Jackson who brought us really cool automobiles to bring right out on the stage. You know, we had some rims that you know, that had diamonds all around it, that you know, that somebody could put on their car, but these rims were like $40,000 a piece, or something. So you know I was, you know I encouraged making the show both modern and old school. And so we - you know, we have this really cool combination now of, you know being able to look at things that people will find really interesting today as well as some of those old classic antique items. Those are the elements I thought brought the show up and made it interesting and different.

Question:
Do you have any plans to ever return to standup at any point?

Cedric The Entertainer:
Oh definitely. I mean I'm out touring now. You know so, I'm out on the road touring and I love the standup. I love the that live audience response. It's the true place, when you're you know, a comedian, where you can get that reaction without having writers and executive producers and advertisers and all these things that, you know things that you've got to comply to. When you do a live standup show, it's your commentary, the things you've been thinking about, and that audience's reaction to it. So I love that energy. I usually stay pretty busy touring throughout the year.

Question:
You were saying how you never want to, you know give a contestant something like signals to mislead them, so how do you know when you might be getting close to doing that?

Cedric The Entertainer:
There is producers all around the show, there's 150 cameras, and then they can talk to me in my ear. So if they just even assume I'm getting a little close, they'll be like, "Hmm-hmm," you know. So you know, because I'll, you know I'll be like, "What's worth more; the Car or that ink pen? The Car or..." They like, "Don't say it like that." I'm like, "Okay, I just wanted them to win."

Question:
Okay. So they like, keep a close eye on you then?

Cedric The Entertainer:
Yes, they've got to watch me. I'm trying to give away $1 million man, I want to be the dude. Then people will really love my show like, "Ced'll get you rich."

Question:
What would you say has probably been the most memorable one?

Cedric The Entertainer:
Man I would say the most memorable win there's been some fun things on there. I would say you know, it was some friends on there and these guys have been friends for a while and they won a lot of money in the first part of the game, and then they kind of went for it and it all went away. But they were good guys and so you know, you really were rooting for them, and that's kind of where the part, where I you know, I wanted to encourage people like, "Do it this way," but they were fun to watch. And this was a couple of guys that had been friends for over 30 years and they just were fun to watch man.

Question:
I know you mentioned a little bit about standup, and though Def Comedy Jam was a while back, my question was what it was like, and if you could talk to me about working with Russell Simmons in comedy?

Cedric The Entertainer:
Yes. Definitely for me one of the great eras of comedy was those early 90s, when Russell brought out Def Comedy Jam. And it was an opportunity for the urban comic to find a voice, and a voice that was one that was speaking directly to that core African American audience. But the show was so popular that it was pop culture. And I mean you know, that's Russell's thing from you know, early on with the, you now, the you know, innovations of rap music and bringing it out in such a real way with Run DMC and the Beastie Boys and all that.

And then too, when he got into the world of television, you know to be a part of something like that, that was just such a you know, cultural phenomenon and then be able to make stars in people who were great at what they did. But you know, we became stars all of us on the Kings, Me, Bernie Mac, and Steve Harvey, guys like Chris Tucker, you know started to see these faces and they popped out on the scene. And we all have gone on to have great careers and you know, Def Comedy Jam was catalyst to that for sure.

Question:
We had the release of Larry Crown, which the critics were brutal toward. Talk to me about how you rebound from something when the critics don't like it and sort of if you're able to infuse some comedy in that in order to deal with things like that?

Cedric The Entertainer:
This is when you pass the buck. That's when you go, "You know, that was Tom Hanks' movie. That ain't got nothing to do with me now." No, you know it's unfortunate because I actually thought it was a very sweet movie. And you know it's a movie of a different time. When you kind of come out against big 3D, you know a lot of technology in the movie, a lot of you know, special effects, in the summer time that's what these movies are. And people just may have felt like the movie's a little sleepy or a little, you know kind of, you know slow for that reason.

But I thought it was a great story. I thought it fit what the times were. Those you know, amazing cast, a lot of great actors in there. And we had a ball on the set. And you know, I think Tom Hanks is one of the best people in Hollywood; his personality, his you know, his work ethic, his humor. He's just a great dude. And so you know, of course I wanted the film to do a lot better. But you know, I mean when you come out in the middle of summer against Transformers, you know what are you going to do?

Question:
Taraji mentioned at the BET Awards that some of her best scenes were on the cutting room floor. Would you say the same about yours?

Cedric The Entertainer:
Yes. I had some good stuff making on the scene, but definitely Taraji and I, we had some moments where we got to improv together and we had some really funny stuff that I guess, you know the story wasn't about us and it just didn't make it to the screen. But I would agree that we had some really funny stuff that didn't make it onto the screen. And you know, it happens.

That's kind of the thing I was saying about standup. The difference between standup and movies and television is, standup you get to get all your stuff off and say it and your audience can respond to it. When you're in the movies you're just kind of subject to you know; one, the timeline, "I've got to cut the story, I've got to get it out, I've got to move the story along, and I've got to lose this big joke." And people never knew it was there. And you'd be like, "Oh wow."

Question:
Lara Spencer, we all know you're paired up with on this new show. And she's known as being a big, sort of yard sale junky and she's a show Interior Designer; is that kind of what made you decide to pair up with her as an Executive Producer?

Cedric The Entertainer:
Yes, I mean Lara's one of the also a co-creator of the show. And so it was a part of her brain child, this idea. And it came from her experiences, you know on Antiques Roadshow and being a real kind of yard-saler kind of person. And so you know, you know that to be real, and you knew there was true passion for her. And she's got great energy and she cared about the show.

And so when I got involved to be the host and produce with her, then this became that you have more confidence when you know somebody really knows what they're talking about and that they care about it. And so that just added confidence to knowing that we had a good idea that we could figure out how to make it work.

Question:
You mentioned sort of the golden era of comedy in the 90s with Russell Simmons and being able to pick out all the comedians that came out of there. Who are you looking at kind of as the people who are the next ones to watch, just coming up as comedians?

Cedric The Entertainer:
Yes, I mean of course I mean, I don't even know if you can put him in the come up stage now he's so hot, but Kevin Hart of course is that guy right now, and he's a you know, super funny young cat. My two protege's are great; Malik S and J.J. Williamson out of Atlanta, very funny young guys who you know, I think should have next. And then you know, it's a lot of cats that you know, that they have some notoriety but you know, still haven't had that pop Earthquake, DeRay Davis, all these guys I think are really talented comedians and you know, should get an opportunity to be seen at some point in time.

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