Star Trek will mind-meld with Lets Make a Deal for a special all-Trekkie episode of the CBS game show on February 4, with official Star Trek prizes, props, costumes, and a special guest appearance by Mary Chieffo from Star Trek: Discovery. You can watch an exclusive preview clip above.
The partnering represents a potent promotion for Star Trek: Discovery, the must-deliver flagship for the CBS All-Access subscription play. For Let’s Make A Deal, the entire enterprise shows the game show is still boldly going in new directions in its 55th year (and after 3,500+ episodes) with its first take-over, branded theme and its first in-show, pop-culture brand partner. Deadline caught up with Let’s Make a Deal Executive Producer Mike Richards to ask about brand partnering, host Wayne Brady’s 10th anniversary, Klingon translators and the intuitive gifts of Capt. James T. Kirk.
DEADLINE: Every season represents a new challenge and a new opportunity. What would you point to as an example of each for Let’s Make a Deal here in 2019?
RICHARDS: The challenge and opportunity of Let’s Make a Deal are one in the same. It is one of the rare game shows that doesn’t have a hard and fast format. We can do whatever we want as long as we have a “Big Deal of the Day” at the end of the show. How we get there is totally up to us. After 55 years, a lot has been done. Our challenge is to keep the show true to its core but constantly come up with new and exciting ways to keep our fans entertained and engaged. “Wayne’s Favorite Folks” week is one of those examples. These five episodes run the gamut from “Legacy Contestants” — contestants who appeared on Monty’s version of the show — to an episode themed entirely around Star Trek. Because Wayne is the greatest improv star out there, we are able to take the show to places no one would expect. The show is predicated on being unpredictable and we work hard to keep our millions of fans on their toes.
DEADLINE: With Star Trek: Discovery costar Mary Chieffo beaming down to Let’s Make a Deal and the wider Trek-theme it seems as if you’re pushing in new directions with branding? I believe you did a Grammy-themed episode to tie-in with the CBS awards broadcast.
RICHARDS: The reason the Star Trek episode is so exciting for us is because this is the first time we’ve ever incorporated a specific pop culture “brand” into our show. This is something we’ve wanted to do for a long time and Star Trek: Discovery was the perfect partner to start with. The Star Trek team was an absolute joy to work with. They gave us access to props, costumes, and a wealth of knowledge about the series. On our end, the Let’s Make a Deal team had a great time coming up with deals that would fit into the Trek universe and adapting some of our current games to be played through a Star Trek lens. I think fans of both shows will really enjoy what we came up with, and it’s definitely a type of special that we would love to do again in the future.
DEADLINE: Were their any moments that made your team feel like they had stepped into a strange, alternate universe?
RICHARDS: There are a few times throughout the episode where we rely on the Klingon language. Obviously, our friends at Star Trek and CBS made sure that everything we were saying in Klingon was accurate, but to our surprise, one of the audience members was an actual Klingon translator! She was of great help to some of our contestants and confirmed that everything we were saying was on point.
DEADLINE: What Star Trek character, from any of the different series, would be the best Let’s Make A Deal contestant? Spock is smart but Scotty knows a good bargain. Data is a walking calculator but then again it’s hard to bet against a Betazoid…
RICHARDS: Of all the Star Trek characters, I think Kirk would be the best at Let’s Make a Deal. This game requires a solid gut instinct and quick decision making. . . two attributes that Kirk definitively has! We would also love to watch Spock grapple with our show. There is nothing “logical” about what we do, so listening to him try to reason through the decision points would be amazing
DEADLINE: This year is Wayne Brady’s 10th anniversary. What would you say about his decade on Lets Make a Deal and how exactly did he end up winning the show’s first Emmy in a music category?
RICHARDS: Ten years is a remarkable milestone for any television show, and we chose to celebrate it all season long. We started the year off by inviting Zonked contestants back for a whole week of shows where we guaranteed one of them would leave with $100,000. This is the biggest prize ever given in the show’s 55 year history and it was one of the most exciting moments we’ve ever had on the show. Throughout the entire season, we’ve incorporated deals and games that reflect on our 10 years on CBS and showcase moments both on and off camera. One of our favorite moments was when Wayne and our musician Cat Gray won their first Emmy for Let’s Make a Deal. They won for “Outstanding Original Song” This was the first time in the 55-year history of Let’s Make a Deal that the show had ever won an Emmy award and it was an exciting moment for the entire cast and crew.