From talk to games: Michael Strahan touches down as host of 'The $100,000 Pyramid'

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Kyla Brewer / TV Media
Debi Mazar, Michael Strahan and Bobby Moynihan as seen in "The $100,000 Pyramid"

Debi Mazar, Michael Strahan and Bobby Moynihan as seen in "The $100,000 Pyramid"

Prime time has gone retro once again. A few years ago, "Mad Men's" whisky-swilling ad men were all the rage, but these days networks are cashing in on the popularity of classic game show reboots. The latest ratings winner combines a charismatic host with celebrity guests and big money.

Michael Strahan ("Good Morning America") hosts as celebrities team up with contestants to play word-association games in the hopes of winning cash in a new episode of "The $100,000 Pyramid," airing Sunday, Aug. 27, on ABC. This week's celebrity guests include NASCAR champ Kyle Busch, Strahan's "Good Morning America" colleague Lara Spencer, rapper-turned-actor Ice-T ("Law & Order: Special Victims Unit") and actress Peri Gilpin ("Frasier"). Previous guests include Debi Mazar ("Younger"), Bobby Moynihan ("Saturday Night Live"), Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg.

Strahan, a former NFL defensive end, guides the action as players compete for a potentially life-altering prize. But it may not be just the thrill of the prize money that has TV fans hooked on the old school program. In a June interview with, Strahan explained why he believes classic game shows like his are experiencing a resurgence in popularity.

"They're something you can do with your family," he said. "As a parent you may not want to watch a kids show, and as a kid you probably don't want to watch a big, serious adult show. Here is something you can watch together."

This is the second season of the revamped game show, which debuted on CBS in 1973 as "The $10,000 Pyramid" before jumping to ABC in 1974, with television icon Dick Clark at the helm. The show struck a chord with viewers right out of the gate as the simple word-association game and entertaining celebrity guests provided a lighthearted break from news of the Vietnam War and Watergate scandal.

The game show has gone through a number of iterations over the years, and each time the title has adjusted to reflect the top potential prize, from $10,000 to $20,000 to $25,000 to $50,000 to ABC's current $100,000 version. However, the game play has remained largely the same throughout the show's varied history. Two teams comprised of one celebrity and one contestant take turns giving each other clues to items in a chosen category, with a point awarded for each right answer. After three rounds of play, the team with the most points advances to the Winner's Circle to play for the big prize. The new ABC series features an hour-long format, which allows enough time for two complete games.

While "Pyramid" has inspired a number of revivals and more than a dozen international versions, the latest ABC series has proven to be one of the most popular, thanks, in part, to an impressive roster of stars who've lined up to play the game that many of them -- including Strahan -- watched as children. This season kicked off Sunday, June 11, with matchups between Leslie Jones ("Ghostbusters," 2016) and LL Cool J ("Lip Sync Battle"), and TV host Tom Bergeron ("Dancing With the Stars") and country music star Jennifer Nettles.

Chrissy Metz in "The $100,000 Pyramid"

Chrissy Metz in "The $100,000 Pyramid"

Other season 2 guests include "This Is Us" stars Justin Hartley and Chrissy Metz, comedian Margaret Cho ("Drop Dead Diva"), Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, Dr. Mehmet Oz ("The Dr. Oz Show"), RuPaul ("RuPaul's Drag Race"), Olympian Apolo Ohno and R&B singer Usher, among many others.

"The $100,000 Pyramid" isn't the only classic game show reboot to bank on the appearance of celebrities. New old game shows have been popping up on a lot of the major networks lately, and many of them employ stars from the worlds of comedy, sports, music and more. In fact, ABC has become a hub for nostalgic series like "Pyramid." Before Strahan kicks off the fun, Steve Harvey hosts "Celebrity Family Feud" earlier on Sunday evenings. The alphabet network has also launched revamped versions of "The Gong Show" and "Battle of the Network Stars," which have been airing on Thursday nights this summer. Add those to this spring's revitalized "Match Game" hosted by Alec Baldwin, and this summer's "To Tell the Truth" with Anthony Anderson, and ABC has a full slate of retro hits.

This summer, Fox has gotten in on the action with a new "Love Connection" hosted by Andy Cohen ("Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen"). He has some big shoes to fill as he takes the place of game show host extraordinaire Chuck Woolery, who hosted the original 1983 version. Fox's new "Beat Shazam" -- although it features newer app technology -- is in essence a new take on "Name That Tune." Even NBC's "Hollywood Game Night" hearkens back to television days gone by with nods to "Win, Lose or Draw's" casual living room vibe.

As more and more viewers are drawn away from broadcast television by big-budget cable series or streaming services, it looks as if networks have found a solution by producing less-expensive summer programming that appeals to audiences' sense of nostalgia. With nine Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Game Show to its credit, "The $100,000 Pyramid" is a good bet for summer entertainment.

This summer, join Strahan and millions of viewers on a trip down memory lane as contestants play word-association games with celebrities in "The $100,000 Pyramid," airing Sunday, Aug. 27, on ABC.