After five years hosting the successful “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” television program, Jeff Foxworthy was a hot commodity in game show circles.
The Alpharetta comedian was pitched many, many ideas. Most, he says, were horrible or simply not up his alley.
“American Bible Challenge” (debuting tonight at 8 on GSN for a ten-episode run) didn’t entice him at first, either: “I didn’t want to do a game show about the Bible. I didn’t want to stand in line in Hell because of a game show!”
But when Foxworthy learned the show’s contestants would compete to win cash for selected charities, his stance softened.
The trick, he says, was to “make it fun and interesting, but not be disrespectful to the Bible.”
The pilot episode, which Foxworthy shot this spring in Los Angeles, failed to strike that balance. “It was flat and dry. We went back and retooled it.”
The show’s writers came up with fresher concepts. In one upcoming episode, contestants must decide if a quote came from “The Lord of the Rings” — or the Lord’s book.
Another episode includes a familiar-sounding topic:
“Biblical rednecks.” The writers were inspired by Foxworthy, who became known in the 1980s for his “You might be a redneck” jokes.
“One day, I was going through the Bible, finding people with redneck traits. Samson got mad at his neighbor, tied fox tails together, set them on fire and burned the guy’s fields up.
“That’s a Biblical redneck!”
Foxworthy figures he wouldn’t do badly as a “Bible Challenge” contestant himself. His bona fides? He’s been part of a weekly men’s Bible study group for 15 years.
And, for the past few
(There are 8 million reasons why Foxworthy is a class act. This is just one of them. He normally does not publicize his charity work with the Mission and only did so this time in context to the game show. George Wright, program director at the Shepherd’s Inn, says he rarely gets media calls about it because Foxworthy simply does not toot his own horn about it. Foxworthy visits the 60 men in the program every Tuesday morning. “They are awestruck,” Wright says. “Here’s a celebrity who is very real, very honest and very straightforward with them.”)
While “Bible Challenge” may not have the wide appeal of, say, “Family Feud,”
hopes Foxworthy’s broad-based popularity will draw plenty of his fans.
Mae Lynn Biggs — a nanny from Marietta who competed on “American Bible Challenge” as part of a trio called the Georgia Grace Girls — says Foxworthy is a key to the show’s potential success. During last month’s taping, she says, Foxworthy’s congenial nature and sense of humor put the audience, as well as contestants, at ease.
“It’s as if we were standing in the back yard talking as neighbors,” Biggs says.
“I go to First Baptist Church of Woodstock. He knows the pastor. My daughter Samantha goes to a satellite of the North Point Community Church [in Alpharetta]. He knows Pastor Andy [Stanley].
“He felt like a brother in Christ.”
“American Bible Challenge”
8 p.m., Thursdays, GSN
1. What sign did God establish as a promise that he would never flood the earth again?
A. morning dew B. lunar eclipse C. rainbow D. pinkie swear
2. Was this line in the Bible or “Lord of the Rings”? “The journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path. One that we all must take.”
3. Before Jonah was hurled into the sea, what was he doing when the storm first hit? Preaching, eating or sleeping?
Answers: 1. C 2. Lord of the Rings 3. Sleeping