battle of the network stars

Ever wonder who’d win a game of tug-of-war between CBS and ABC?

Ok, you probably haven’t, but you might found out soon anyway, as ABC is rebooting the 1970s and 80s hit “Battle of the Network Stars,” a game show that pits TV personalities from ABC, CBS and NBC against each other in athletic competitions. Previous contest have included kayak races, tug-of-war and 3-on-3 football.

According to Variety, ABC has begun a casting search in hopes of shooting in May and airing the special over the summer.

The original “Battle of the Network Stars” aired on ABC between 1976 and 1988, with Howard Cosell hosting all but one year. Other hosts included Bruce Jenner, O.J. Simpson, Frank Gifford and Billy Crystal, while competitors included Cheryl Tiegs, Robin Williams, Tom Selleck, William Shatner, Mr. T and many, many others. The specials were often held twice a year, in May and December.

Many of the original “Battle of the Network Stars” specials are available on YouTube some 35 years later, and you can lose quite a bit of time watching, say, soap opera star William DeVane playing 3-on-3 football against “That’s Incredible” host Cathy Lee Crosby. The best part is Cosell’s commentary, which falls somewhere between amusement and mockery.

ABC has had success with remakes of other classic game shows like “Celebrity Family Feud,” “Match Game,” and “The $100,000 Pyramid.

The success of the “Battle of the Network Stars” reboot will likely depend on the caliber of TV personality ABC can round up, but the idea worked once before, so it’s worth seeing if it can work once again.


About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports,, and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.