Dallas producer/host Tommy Habeeb has made a career out of making trashy TV, putting out syndicated shows like Cheaters, Eye for an Eye and Stag: A Test of Love. With his latest project, The Big Big Show, he's looking to take the flair that made his earlier shows popular and combine it with something a bit more family-friendly.
The Big Big Show, for which Habeeb will serve as host, is a twist on the current reality talent competition craze. With Andrew Dice Clay, Tara Reid and Tom Green serving as judges, contestants will take the stage to show off whatever talent they possess.
If the judges like a certain performance, the contestant will be showered with cash. If they don't, watch out: All manner of disgusting items will be dumped on the unlucky person, after which the judges will go into detail about why the contestant deserved such a fate.
"This show is so crazy, and that’s part of the fun and the genius of it," host Tommy Habeeb says.
It sounds a mite mean-spirited, but Habeeb insists the show will be all in good fun.
"We’re not looking to beat people up; it’s more about the funny," Habeeb says. "There will be some really talented people, and they will benefit from it."
The concept for the show came from creator Jim Campbell, who had been conducting an online singing competition with the same name, giving away over $100,000 to singers who submitted videos voted on by the public. When Campbell wanted to turn the idea into a TV show, Habeeb used his experience to turn it into something viable.
"This show is so crazy, and that’s part of the fun and the genius of it," Habeeb says. "What Jim created was a talent show with consequences; he just didn’t know how to make a TV show, and that’s where I came in."
One of Habeeb's ideas was to bring in celebrity judges, and his first target was Andrew Dice Clay. Clay is experiencing a bit of career resurgence at the moment, with a recent Showtime comedy special and a praised role in Woody Allen's latest film, Blue Jasmine. Habeeb feels lucky to have him on board
"I thought there was nobody better to be the next Simon Cowell of talent shows than Andrew Dice Clay," Habeeb says. "He’s got edge, he’s got character. There’s no question Dice is a lightning rod, but he’s quick and he’s incredibly intelligent."
Reid has also made a recent mark in pop culture, starring in the crap-tastic Syfy movie, Sharknado. Surely her casting is a sign the show will be "so bad it's good," right?
"Not at all," Habeeb says. "Tara has had her train wreck issues, but this is going to show her in a little different light. The character and the sweetness of who Tara Reid really is will come out, and I think you’ll see almost a Goldie Hawn kind of character. The world’s going to see a different side of her."
Each episode of The Big Big Show will include a lot of mutually-agreed-upon humiliation.
While it remains to be seen how the judges (including a guest judge that rotates weekly) will perform on the program, the stunts Habeeb and Campbell have planned seem to live up to his promise of "crazy," verging on politically incorrect.
"Every stunt has its own brand. We’ve got one called 'Wok and Roll,' and there’s a whole song related to it and everybody will start chanting," Habeeb says. "There’s a Chinese man sitting there who will be cooking up noodles. He comes out and loads up catapults; one catapult has these Chinese noodles in it, and the other has cash in it.
"We have another one called 'Jungle Love' that has this bamboo cage that drops down on you. If you do good, money pours out on you, and if you do bad, you’re pelted by little gorillas with rotten bananas."
Even though each episode will include a lot of mutually-agreed-upon humiliation, Habeeb says the aim will be to be even-handed in the results department.
"I think a nice 50/50 split would be fantastic," Habeeb says. "As we cast it, we’re really looking for talent, although talent can be deemed in multiple different ways.
"My goal is to have a show that's all about the water cooler talk. I want people talking about it the next day. I want this show to have 2-3 viral videos an episode."
The Big Big Show starts filming episodes on October 8, with the hopes that it will go on the air sometime in 2014. And for anyone hoping to get an up-close-and-personal look at the celebrity judges or the absurdity, you're in luck: The show will be filmed in Dallas.
"We have a studio in Deep Ellum, so we’re going to shoot it right here," Habeeb says. "We’ve got studio audiences so it can now make Dallas as a destination where people can come and watch us.
"We’ll be very interactive with the crowd. We welcome people to dress up as their favorite celebrities. They’ll play a role; the louder they cheer or boo will determine on their meter whether the contestant could win or lose."
Anyone who'd like to be a contestant or a member of the studio audience can apply online at bigbigshowtv.com. At the very least, you'll be party to one of Habeeb's patented wild rides.