Mixing big-name celebrities, fun games and witty commentary (and booze) is a classic TV recipe, but "Hollywood Game Night" (premieres Thurs., July 11 at 10 p.m. on NBC) makes it new again.
The show, which is hosted by "Glee" funny lady Jane Lynch, is exactly what it sounds like: a star-studded game night, filmed and put on TV.
"Sean Hayes, the creator of the series, has these notorious game nights that are so much fun, that a variety of people go to because he has a lot of interesting people in his life," Lynch told The Huffington Post. "And he said 'Let's put it on TV,' and NBC said, 'OK!' Before I knew it, I was hosting it, and we rented this mansion that is, ostensibly, mine, and we put couches in there and we got everybody tanked up on booze and we played these games."
So what kind of games will we see? And what celebs will be playing them? Lynch opened up about everything from the thrill of identifying Bugles snack chips to the posh-seeming celebrity who really surprised her.
Do you have a go-to game night game? Everyone has a game that they sort of dominate ...
I do dominate at Celebrity. That is my game. In fact, you can forget the rest of the games -- I can't wait to play Celebrity. Of course, as the host of "Hollywood Game Night," I love every game! [Laughs.] But my favorite to play is Celebrity, and our final round [on the show] is always a round of Celebrity with our leading civilian and they get to pick whichever celebrity they want to be in the final round with them, and that is always fun.
You guys also crafted new games for this. Do you have a favorite from the show?
There's a couple that are really great, but one of my favorites is we do cross-sections of candy bars and you have to choose: Is this a Snickers? Is this a Baby Ruth? That's fun and it takes you back to your childhood. We also have aerial shots of snacks, and you're like, "Are those Bugles?" I can't think of another funny, obscure thing that none of us in Hollywood eat anymore, but we all knew. And there's one where we take songs in pop culture and we have to sing them to our fellow teammates to guess them, but we can only use the lyric "doo." We actually call the game Doo Doo. Why not?
What's the toughest game? And the one that got the most laughs?
The toughest game -- and the one that got the most laughs -- is probably one where we do magazine covers of People's Sexiest Man Alive and we have to put them in chronological order. Another one that goes over really well is we take hairstyles of particular celebrities like Johnny Depp and Jennifer Aniston and you have to put those in chronological order. And Oprah.
That's awesome. I feel like you were probably friends or at least friendly with most of the celebrities on the show, but was there someone who particularly surprised you with their performance on the show?
We had people like Rose Byrne, who is this wonderful Australian actress who is rather, in person, subdued, but she's hilarious. We saw her in "Bridesmaids," we know she can do comedy, but she came and she was her kind of posh self, but as soon as we started playing the game, she was in it! Everybody comes to play and everybody comes to win. And to humiliate their opposition.
And I think it's hilarious that you're promoting that everyone should be cocktailing along with the game, on the show and at home.
Of course -- as a person who's 21 years sober, I love telling people to drink up! I kind of encourage that, which is probably not the best thing for a sober person to do, but I tell people to pick a celebrity and every time they get a point, take a drink. But what we're really doing for society is we're promoting good times, relating with one another through good, healthy, Christian fun.
The way Sean does his game nights, it sounds like he plots out who he thinks would make an interesting random group -- sort of like the dream dinner party guests question. So: Living or dead, who would be at your dream dinner party?
Gosh, you know, she used to be on my living list, and now she's unfortunately on my gone to the other side list: Nora Ephron. I actually knew her quite well, but I never got to go to one of her famous dinner parties. She's the woman who said never to have a square table; you should always have a round table for dinner parties because it makes relating to each other easier. If I could emulate her ... first of all, she would be at my party. And she always had very interesting mixes of people. I would love to get Christopher Hitchens there, and he's gone. I'd love to have Abraham Lincoln at a dinner party. Greta Garbo ... oh my God, I'm going with all dead people. Oh! Jennifer Saunders -- I would love to have her at a dinner party. That would just be top tits, I think.
"Hollywood Game Night" premieres Thursday, July 11 at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.
Want to see how you'd fare on the show? We've also got an exclusive look at outtakes from their game Lil' Picassos. Click through this gallery to see if you can guess who it is just by looking at the drawings, or reading a clue (or two if you're really at a loss).
*Hint: There's an answer key below the gallery to check how you did -- no cheating!
Lil' Picassos answer key: #1 - Tina Fey; #2 - Donald Trump; #3 - President Barack Obama; #4 - Zach Galifianakis; #5 - Pink; #6 - Daniel Radcliffe; #7 - Derek Jeter; #8 - Steve Buscemi; #9 - Serena Williams.