National Geographic Announces Keegan-Michael Key as Host of Brain Games
Hit Series Brain Games Gets Hollywood Reboot as World-Famous Mentalist Lior Surchard Joins Key to Challenge Celebrities With Interactive Mind Games
Produced by Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz’s Alfred Street Industries and Magical Elves, the New Iteration of Brain Games Premieres Dec. 1, 2019, on National Geographic
NEW YORK & WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--National Geographic announced that it has tapped Keegan-Michael Key (“Friends From College,” “Toy Story 4,” “Lion King”) as host of its rebooted hit series, "Brain Games." The eight-episode season, produced by Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz’s Alfred Street Industries and Magical Elves, adds a Hollywood twist to its classic mind-bending format by challenging some of the world’s biggest celebrities to realize their special brain power through fun and highly entertaining interactive games, illusions and social experiments.
“‘Brain Games’ is such an important part of National Geographic’s screen heritage. It is an honor to have the opportunity to produce the show and to be working with a giant talent like Keegan-Michael Key whose humor, magnetism and intellectual curiosity will elevate the series in an exciting new way.”
The first five celebrities confirmed are: Kristin Bell (“The Good Place”), Dax Shepherd (“Bless This Mess”), Drew Brees (QB, New Orleans Saints), Rebel Wilson (“The Hustle”), and Anthony Anderson (“Blackish”).
Brain Games premieres Dec. 1, 2019, on National Geographic and will air globally in 172 countries and 43 languages. For more information visit our press site www.natgeotvpressroom.com, or follow us on Twitter using @NatGeoPR.
In Brain Games, host Key will investigate mind-bending questions with the help of Hollywood’s biggest stars. Joining Key on stage in front of the live studio audience, world-famous mentalist Lior Surchard will assist with brain games and challenges for the celebrity guests. Meanwhile, field correspondent and science communicator Cara Santa Maria will take the cerebral challenges on the road and put everyday people across America to the test. With insight from some of the world’s leading neuroscientists, engineers and brain experts, we’ll explore the “why” behind the “wow” of questions like the following: Are women better communicators? How do our brains control what we love to eat? Can brain science help us with our dating lives? What is the magic ingredient to gaining, having and keeping power? And much more!
“I’ve always loved science, and when National Geographic called, I jumped at the chance to be part of this really amazing series,” said Key. “I’m going to be bringing some friends along, and together we are going to explore some really fascinating aspects of the human brain. I can’t wait to get started!”
“As we looked to revive this much-adored series with a colorful superstar twist, it’s a no-brainer to introduce Keegan-Michael Key as host of Brain Games,” said Courteney Monroe, president, National Geographic Global Networks. “He uniquely possesses the combination of charm, quick wit, intelligence and humor that’s ideal for in-studio scenarios, but beyond that, he’s a fan of the series and has a sheer passion for the science behind how our brains tick.”
Said Cutforth and Lipsitz, “‘Brain Games’ is such an important part of National Geographic’s screen heritage. It is an honor to have the opportunity to produce the show and to be working with a giant talent like Keegan-Michael Key whose humor, magnetism and intellectual curiosity will elevate the series in an exciting new way.”
“A show like Brain Games belongs on stage in front of a live audience, where celebrity guests, audience members, and viewers can experience science in a fun and interactive way. With Keegan-Michael Key as our host, this high-energy, reimagined version of the original Brain Games will definitely appeal to both the left and right sides of viewers’ brains,” said Toby Gorman, Executive Producer and Interim CEO of Magical Elves.
While some episode games — including “Battle of the Sexes,” “Kids vs. Grownups,” “Laws of Attraction” and “Movie Magic” — are tailored to the headlining celebrities, others — including “Laws of Attraction,” “Deception” and “Power of Persuasion” — draw from the most successful themes across the previous five seasons. The new season includes a mixture of in-studio and in-the-field game components, physical and mental games, and the introduction of “The Gauntlet,” a fifth-act combination of previous episode games to pit celebrity against celebrity.
About Keegan-Michael Key
Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning actor, writer and creator Keegan-Michael Key is one of Hollywood’s most in-demand forces. With his extraordinarily diverse skill set and wide-ranging talent in both comedy and drama, Key redefines what it means to be a chameleon and multi-hyphenate in the worlds of film, television and theater. He will next appear in two of 2019’s most highly anticipated films, Disney/Pixar’s “Toy Story 4” and Disney’s live action/CGI remake of “The Lion King.” In addition, he recently wrapped production in Vancouver on Paramount’s “Playing With Fire,” starring alongside John Cena, Judy Greer and John Leguizamo. He will soon star opposite Eddie Murphy in Netflix’s “My Name is Dolemite!”.
Key is represented by UTA and attorney Dave Feldman.
Brain Games is produced for National Geographic by Alfred Street Industries and Magical Elves. Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz are executive producers for Alfred Street Industries. For Magical Elves, executive producers are Toby Gorman, Casey Kriley, James Rowley and Lauren Williams. Elisa Key is also an executive producer. For National Geographic, Matt Renner is executive producer and vice president, original programming and production; and Geoff Daniels is executive vice president of global unscripted entertainment.
About Magical Elves:
Magical Elves is the veteran production company behind Emmy award-winning hits “Top Chef” (Bravo) and “Last Chance Kitchen” (Bravo), Peabody Award-winning “Project Runway” (Bravo), IDA Award winner “Time of Death” (Showtime) and the recent streaming successes “Nailed It!” (Netflix) and “Sugar Rush” (Netflix). Other credits include “Project Greenlight” (HBO), “Cleveland Hustles” (CNBC), “There Goes the Motherhood” (Bravo), “Braxton Family Values” (WETV), “Tamar & Vince” (WETV), “Shine On” (DirectTV), “All in With Cam Newton” (Nickelodeon), “Last Comic Standing” (NBC), “Cold Justice” (Oxygen), “Top Chef Junior” (Universal Kids) and the 2017 music documentary “Tim & Faith: Soul2Soul” (Showtime). Magical Elves is a part of The Tinopolis Group’s portfolio of production companies.
About National Geographic Partners LLC
National Geographic Partners LLC (NGP), a joint venture between the National Geographic Society and Disney, is committed to bringing the world premium science, adventure and exploration content across an unrivaled portfolio of media assets. NGP combines the global National Geographic television channels (National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo WILD, Nat Geo MUNDO, Nat Geo PEOPLE) with National Geographic’s media and consumer-oriented assets, including National Geographic magazines; National Geographic studios; related digital and social media platforms; books; maps; children’s media; and ancillary activities that include travel, global experiences and events, archival sales, licensing and e-commerce businesses. Furthering knowledge and understanding of our world has been the core purpose of National Geographic for 131 years, and now we are committed to going deeper, pushing boundaries, going further for our consumers … and reaching millions of people around the world in 172 countries and 43 languages every month as we do it. NGP returns 27 percent of our proceeds to the nonprofit National Geographic Society to fund work in the areas of science, exploration, conservation and education. For more information, visit natgeotv.com or nationalgeographic.com, or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.