Am I Game?
When I was a little kid, what did I want to be when I grew up? Well, for one thing, I wanted to be an urbane game show panelist like Kitty Carlisle, Arlene Francis, Henry Morgan, Betsy Palmer, Oscar Levant, Moss Hart, Bennet Cerf, Tony Randall, Buddy Hackett, Dorothy Kilgallen, Jayne Meadows, and Steve Allen on such shows as What's My Line? and I've Got a Secret. Hey, I trained for it. Repartee was my game.
Unfortunately, by the time I got here this fantastic institution was gone from the cityscape, replaced by programs too horrible to contemplate. But recently I became aware of a little cable show called Name That Painting, produced by Mark Kostabi, on which "celebrity luminaries" compete for dollars to, well, name that painting with the assistance of art historians and experts. There's even a house band. And Mr. Kostabi hosts the show remotely, by closed circuit from Rome or, lately, L.A.
The panelists are actually in the great New York game show tradition—writer Gary Indiana, Art Newspaper wit Adrian Dannatt, Artnet's Walter Robinson, Paper's Carlo McCormick, artist John Zinsser, personality Taylor Mead, Randy Jones (the original cowboy of the Village People), and last, but certainly not least, me.
I've actually enjoyed the guilty pleasure a few times in recent weeks after discovering, at the urging of art restorer and regular Lisa Rosen, that it really is a fun show. And best of all, I've been the big winner. Except last week, when film director Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) cleaned up spotlessly with his attractive French accent and titles that tested the limits of our language.
Here's Mr. Gondry working out with the house orchestra, the White Leather Soc Band:
You can catch the fun every Wednesday night at 8:30 in Manhattan on Time Warner Cable Channel 56, on RCN Channel 108, on MNN's website every Wednesday night at 8:30 EST, or at your leisure at www.markkostabi.com.