When "The All-New Dating Game" premieres Sept. 15 on KHJ-TV, viewers will find an all-new look at the helm: a woman.
Actress Elaine Joyce will be hosting this new version of the classic half-hour game show that features singles asking and answering provocative questions in the hope of being selected as the winning date for a trip. The show will air Mondays through Fridays at 7 p.m. on Channel 9.
After reruns of "The Dating Game" received a good response in various cities, executives at Chuck Barris Productions decided to tape new shows and had been thinking about introducing a female host. Joyce fit the bill.
"We wanted someone that was fresh and new--a host that no one's seen before," said Budd Granoff, Barris Industries president. "The time has come for us to put our feet in the water. . . . It's time for a woman host."
(Actress Betty White, now of "The Golden Girls," won a daytime Emmy as host of the NBC game show "Just Men!" in 1983. Aside from that, game-show hosting has been a male-dominated field.)
Barris found Joyce while she was doing a pilot for the game show "Bamboozle" and asked her if she would be interested in hosting the "The All-New Dating Game."
"I was thrilled," Joyce said. "I liked the idea of the show and thought a woman would fit into that arena very nicely."
Joyce, who has taped more than 40 shows so far, said being a host is tougher than it looks.
"I have a lot of respect for the job," Joyce said. "It's probably easier to project somebody else, but there are no females around to follow--otherwise I'd be turning on the channel watching them."
Joyce said she's been floored by unexpected things that contestants have done. She recalled one bachelor who had various props such as red dental floss, a muffler and a martini glass.
"He wasn't chosen, but he came around to hug the girl and he wouldn't let go of her." Joyce said with a laugh. "I practically had to call out the SWAT team."
Despite the hard work and the chauvinistic term bachelorette, she hasn't discovered any negatives about hosting the show.
"I have a chance to communicate with the different people. . . . It's exciting."
Besides appearing on a variety of game shows herself, Joyce, 39, has also done Broadway, films and episodic television and been a talk-show guest. In addition, she has hosted coverage of the Tournament of Roses parade and did a series of variety specials with her husband, the late Bobby Van.
She just finished auditioning for a musical and will be in the rock 'n' roll-comedy-horror film "Trick or Treat," which is to be released in October.
Joyce also works on a committee for the mayor of Beverly Hills and is getting a degree in business from UCLA.
She said she believes there are few women game show hosts because men are afraid to put them into that position.
"They're afraid it won't work--but how do they know? It's rarely been tried," she said. "We've had a woman vice presidential candidate. We're certainly ready for a woman to host a game show on television. They were looking for the best man for the job . . . and I'm it."