Showtime At The Apollo is returning to television with a two-hour Fox special on December 5. The re-imagining of the long-running syndicated variety show will be hosted by Steve Harvey, the most in-demand emcee for the last few years. The comedian, who will be joined in the special by comedy and music stars, has a personal connection to the Apollo theater where he launched his career. He also will host a second, one-hour Showtime At The Apollo special to air on Fox in early 2017.
Reginald Hudlin, writer-producer, former president of an entertainment for BET and producer of the 2016 Academy Awards, will executive produce and serve as showrunner. The show’s original executive producer and director, Don Weiner, will executive produce and direct the special.
Weiner, who as a young producer in the late 1980s found a video camera, taped a demo and sold Showtime At The Apollo in weekly syndication, where it launched in 1987, originally tried to mount an Apollo reboot five years ago. The project, which Weiner executive produced with Jamie Foxx, was piloted by BET.
The Fox special will feature elements from the Apollo’s legendary Amateur Night – the long-running, live talent competition, now in its 82nd year – which provides a platform for up-and-coming artists to perform in front of the toughest audience in the world where amateurs who don’t win over the crowd are booed off the stage. Amateur Night at the Apollo launched the careers of many iconic artists including James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Lauryn Hill, Michael Jackson and The Jackson Five, and D’Angelo. The show continues to present new talent on the Apollo stage every Wednesday night.
“I’m excited to be going back home to the Apollo to celebrate the history of this great theater,” said Harvey. “I have great memories from my time there, and this is going to be a homecoming party that you won’t want to miss.”
Talent shows have been on the rise. NBC’s America’s Got Talent is coming off one of its highest-rated seasons, and ABC recently picked up a revival of The Gong Show executive produced by Will Arnett.
“Since its inception in 1934, the world’s original talent competition – Amateur Night at the Apollo – was, and continues to be, a primary source for discovering new talent and spotlighting up-and-coming artists,” said Jonelle Procope, President and CEO of the Apollo Theater and an executive producer of the special. “We’re proud to continue to produce our live, weekly show, and are equally excited to be partnering with Fox to produce this Showtime At The Apollo special and to bring the Apollo experience back to television!”
Showtime went through several producing teams and hosts before ending its 21-year syndicated run in 2008.
“The Apollo Theater played a crucial role in so many of this nation’s most talented artists, including Steve, and we couldn’t be happier to have him lead us back to this legendary venue,” said David Madden, President, Entertainment, Fox Broadcasting Company. “We’re sure this will be a fantastic night of entertainment.”
Showtime At The Apollo will be executive produced by Jim Roush and Chris Wagner for the Roush-Wagner Company, Hudlin, Weiner, Procope as well as Michael Antinoro for IMG.