By Jay Kernis
"If you don't know your Bible, you don't have a prayer!"
With tongue-in-cheek, so warns comedian Jeff Foxworthy, host of the hit quiz show, “The American Bible Challenge.” About to begin its second season in March, the program broke all records when it premiered last August on GSN, the Game Show Network, debuting as the cable network’s #1 program of all time with 1.7 million viewers for its premiere show, and more than 13 million viewers for the first season.
“The American Bible Challenge” really is a game show in which three teams of three contestants answer questions based on stories from the Old and New Testament. At the end of the season, the championship team wins more than $100,000. But all prize money goes to the winning teams’ charities of choice.
Foxworthy, the largest-selling comedy recording artist in history, told Rock Center's Harry Smith that with each question he asks, he must balance being funny with being respectful to the material. He said, “I don’t want to ever hurt anybody’s feelings. I don’t ever want to offend somebody. But there’s, there’s a lot of humor in this, too. And so it’s that fine line of: hey, can we laugh at this, without being irreverent or disrespectful?
New this season is the addition of gospel star Kirk Franklin, winner of nine Grammy Awards. He leads the on-stage gospel choir and banters with Foxworthy during the show. Franklin told Harry that his work with the choir involves “to just bring a little more sauce to it, you know? Kind of get them out of the Sunday clothes, kind of swag ‘em up a little bit.”
Casting sessions for the second season were held in Atlanta, Nashville, Dallas, Memphis and Los Angeles. Some 223 teams auditioned, including the show’s first two teams of the Jewish faith. One of the teams, “The Rockin’ Rabbis” from New York State is made up of two rabbis and a theological student. Rabbi Jeffrey Abraham said, “We feel like, within the Old Testament, we know what we’re talking about. And we should be able to show that to the rest of the world.”
All potential contestants had to take a 30-question written test and only if they had high enough scores were hopefuls then taped by casting directors.
Greater Atlanta Christian School teacher and cancer survivor Dana Davis said that passing the audition test is more than just a chance to be on TV. He explained, “It’s not just about reading the Book, but to know that God cares about us, that he actually walks with us, that he has the power to overcome the things that we have no control over.”
Editor's Note: Harry Smith's full report aired Friday, February 15 at 10pm/9c on NBC's Rock Center with Brian Williams.