For decades, the entertainment industry has tapped our nation’s No. 1 best-selling book of all time — the Bible — for its wealth of storylines and characters. From The Simpsons to The Ten Commandments, there have been countless interpretations and reinterpretations of the Bible woven into TV and film. While the Bible has had its own category on Jeopardy!, never has it been the sole focus of a game show. GSN’s The American Bible Challenge is looking to change that, as teams of contestants compete against each other in this nine-episode series. The series airs on GSN Thursdays at 8pm ET/7pm CT.
Comedian Jeff Foxworthy is producing and hosting American Bible Challenge, which promises to be a fun, fast-paced family show. “He is so fantastic,” says David Schiff, senior vice president of programming and development for GSN. “He is personally a man of faith. He’s really our ringleader, and we could not have found more of a perfect host for the show.”
While contestants don’t have to be Bible scholars to play, they do need a good general knowledge of the book, so that rules out those churchgoers who are sleeping through Sunday service.
The show’s format is structured as a bracketed championship-style competition, where 18 teams of three will be whittled down to a final champion team that will be crowned the 2012 American Bible Challenge winner and will receive a cash prize for the charity of their choice. Teams were still being cast as of presstime, but casting calls were held in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Sacramento, San Diego and Los Angeles, as well as communicated through various outreach and faith-based organizations. The individual makeup of each team varies, as well; there are groups who are Bible study friends, some church compatriots and regular families/friends.
Schiff says he’s surprised by the range and breadth of people who are responding to the show. “We know that Christianity and the Bible is a pretty broad thing, but how it reaches into every corner of demographics — urban, rural, upscale, downscale, ethnic, Caucasian — just the range is amazing. I would say for me, the overall kind of youthfulness of the contestant is somewhat surprising [too], with a lot of teenagers, people in their 20s. I think you might think the Bible might be for an older audience in their 50s or 60s, but we’re finding that’s just not the case. There’s such a contemporary Bible-loving group out there that we’re seeing a lot of.”
In each episode, these teams will compete in three games, which range from fill-in-the-blank to some physically challenging stunts like putting the 10 plagues in order the fastest.
“There will be a combination of Bible knowledge, like People, Places and Things of the Bible,” says Schiff. “We made it clear that we’re not interpreting the Bible. This is not about preaching Christianity; we’re just using the Bible as the source material. Aside from that, the Bible and its prevalence in pop culture is pretty ubiquitous — some of the questions we might ask: ‘How many U.S. presidents can you name where their first name is found in the Bible?’ ‘The Byrds song “Turn! Turn! Turn!” is a Bible verse. Do you know what Bible verse it is?’ The Bible is the source material, but it’s also a jumping-off point for other material.”