National Geographic announced today that it has tapped Keegan-Michael Key (Friends From College, Toy Story 4, The 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.
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 (black-ish).
Brain Games premieres Dec. 1, 2019, on National Geographic and will air globally in 172 countries and 43 languages.
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.