Deadline reports that FremantleMedia is preparing a remake of To Tell The Truth, the lie-detection game show that first aired in 1956 and continued until 1978, with a few brief revivals since then. (The most recent iteration was a two-season affair hosted by John O’Hurley.) The Mark Goodson-produced, Bob Stewart-created format pits four witty celebrities against a panel of three guests, all of whom claim to be the same person with an unusual story or job—a professional alibi preparer, say, or a sleeping-position expert. The celebrities’ job is to question the guests to determine which one is actually who he or she claims to be.
Ex-NBC chairman Jeff Gaspin is spearheading the project, as he’s apparently a fan of the show. That’s good to hear, but this part of the Deadline writeup is less reassuring: “Eyed for primetime on the broadcast networks, the new To Tell The Truth is described as an update of the familiar format with a surprising new twist that adds action and suspense and raises the stakes.” Game show enthusiasts have seen “more action and suspense!!” grafted onto lighthearted, low-key classics before, and it rarely works out well.
As mentioned above, To Tell The Truth has gone through a number of incarnations since it hit the CBS airwaves in 1956. The first edition was hosted by Bud Collyer, an emcee from the old guard of radio’s golden age. Here’s a 1964 edition with a quintessential original TTTT panel of Tom Poston, Peggy Cass, Orson Bean, and Kitty Carlise—plus John Le Carré makes an appearance in the second segment:
The original show went off the air in 1968, but it was immediately followed in 1969 by a syndicated version with new mod styling and a looser feel to match. The wonderfully affable Garry Moore hosted, and he helped make this the most enjoyable iteration of TTTT. Here’s an episode that features a startling opening and an even more startling jacket (on the person of Larry Blyden):
The 1990 NBC revival burned through hosts: The pilot was hosted by Richard Kline; Gordon Elliott was the first “official” host; football star Lynn Swann took over for Elliott; and Alex Trebek later took over for Swann. (This all took place in the course of one season—the show wasn’t renewed.) Compounding this game of musical emcee chairs, Trebek missed part of one taping session because his wife was giving birth, so producer Mark Goodson filled in:
(Goodson says in that episode that he’s never sat in the hosting spot before, but that’s not true—he must have forgotten this 1967 episode.)