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BBC America, NPR Bring 'Wait, Wait' To Television

Comedy game show will get a trial run for the holidays

It has a huge following both on the radio and with live audiences across the country. But can National Public Radio's "Wait, Wait ... Don't Tell Me" find life as a television show?

BBC America says yes, and is at least giving the show a trial run in time for the holidays.

BBCA will tape the program's annual year-end edition and air that Dec. 23. The program mixes news, competition and humor, and typically performs to sell-out audiences across the country as it tours.

It was started in 1998, and is produced by NPR in conjunction with Chicago Public Radio. It's hosted by Peter Sagal with announcer Carl Kasell, the man many people would love to be the voice of their answering machine (one of the fun prizes the show gives away to listeners). The program features a recurring panelist of special guests that have included Paula Poundstone, Mo Rocca and Tom Bodett (yes, he will leave the light on for you).

This is the second attempt to bring "Wait, Wait" to television. CBS had the idea first in 2008, even going as far as filming a pilot. However, CBS Entertainment didn't pick it up for series, so it remained on the radio (and Internet) only.

The BBCA project is probably best considered a backdoor pilot for the concept. If ratings are strong enough for the cable channel, it could order additional special episodes, or even try to pick it up as a weekly series. It's not clear how a television version would affect the NPR and podcast versions of the shows, if at all.

The pilot, according to The New York Times, will be recorded Dec. 2 in Chicago, the show's home base.

Doug Berman, the creator of the program, said in a release that what viewers will see on BBCA is similar to what they hear on the radio show.

"It's going to be pretty much what we do every week, except NPR has to add a budget line for pants," Berman said.

About the Author

Michael Hinman is the founder and editor-in-chief for Airlock Alpha and the entire GenreNexus. He owns Nexus Media Group Inc., the parent corporation of the GenreNexus and is a veteran print journalist. He lives in Tampa, Fla.
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