Howie Mandel heads back to daytime as host of "Deal"

TV Week is reporting that Howie Mandel has accepted a deal to host the syndicated version of “Deal or No Deal” that will now premiere in the fall of 2008. The show will be syndicated by NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution.

It is expected that the same production team behind the prime-time show will also be behind the daytime syndicated version as well. It is not known though, whether or not it will be a half-hour or hour version. An half-hour version could make the show more playable in early fringe or prime access time periods.

Prime-time game shows being converted to syndicated strips aren’t new. Buena Vista Television put Who Wants To Be A Millionaire in syndication in 2002 and recruited Meredith Vierra as host instead of Regis Philbin, who hosted the prime time version on ABC (He turned down hosting the syndicated version.)

Before that, NBC syndicated The Weakest Link as a syndicated strip, but used George Gray as host instead of Anne Robinson, who fronted the NBC prime time version (as well as the British version.)

Of course, the reverse of this has worked as well – very well. Wheel of Fortune and the first version of Family Feud are the best examples of network daytime game shows that became blockbuster hits in nighttime syndication. Pat Sajak hosted both versions of Wheel (until 1989 when he only did the nighttime version) and Richard Dawson hosted both versions of the first Feud. The second version of Feud also had concurrent runs (until 1993 when the network version was canceled), with Ray Combs as host of both. In 1994, Combs was replaced in the syndicated version by a returning Dawson.

Other shows that had concurrent network/syndicated runs (either on a stripped or weekly basis) included The Price is Right, The Match Game, Let’s Make A Deal, Hollywood Squares (the Peter Marshall version), The $20,000/$25,000/$100,000 Pyramid, and Win, Lose, or Draw.

For Howie Mandel, this marks a return to daytime television for the comedian. He starred in the short-lived Howie Mandel Show (when he had hair) during the 1998-99 season, and starred in the Saturday Morning animated series Bobby’s World, which was later stripped on Fox’s weekday afternoon schedule. He also starred in the Emmy-winning drama St. Elsewhere during the 1980’s.

NBC Universal, meanwhile, is launching two new shows this fall, The Steve Wilkos Show (a Jerry Springer spinoff) and Reel Talk.