American Gladiators had an impressive TV run from 1989 to 1996, followed by a 2008 revival hosted by Hulk Hogan and Laila Ali that surprisingly lasted for two seasons. The concept, featuring amateur athletes taking on each other and the show’s “gladiators” in “feats of strength,” has been discussed a bit since then, including a 2014 reboot attempt described as “post-apocalyptic.” Fortunately, that attempt (which was supposed to bring in elements of the Hunger Games franchise as well as mixed martial arts) never got too far, and now another revival is contemplated that sounds much more along the original lines.
It also has some interesting names attached, as Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva and Anita Busch write:
A revival of the popular physical competition show American Gladiators, which pits everyday people against famous athletes through an obstacle course is being shopped around by MGM. John Ferraro, the producer of the original AG, is involved as are Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg who are expected to serve as executive producers.
The American Gladiators series was considered a syndication darling, repeatedly racking up ratings for its time slot and was so successful that other programs ended up spinning off from it to try to cash in on that momentum. We hear that MGM is currently talking to distributors who are interested in the revival.
While this may not be something you’d initially associate with Rogen, he and Goldberg (a long-time Rogen collaborator with writer and producer credits on everything from Superbad to Pineapple Express to Sausage Party) have been involved with a bunch of TV you might not expect recently, from Preacher to Future Man to the forthcoming The Boys and Black Monday. And the involvement of Ferraro (who came up with the initial concept in 1982 alongside Dan Carr and worked for almost a decade to get it on TV) is promising, suggesting this may be closer to the original Gladiators many remember fondly than the 2008 revival or the attempted 2014 “post-apocalyptic” take.
Here’s a look at one clip from the original show (lots more are available on their YouTube channel here), showing 1979 Heisman winner Charles White racing on ice while dodging projectiles:
Here’s the whole first original episode, with Joe Theismann hosting (he hosted the first half of the first season):
The popularity of shows like American Ninja Warrior suggests there might be an audience for bringing back Gladiators. Deadline’s article notes that MGM TV is pushing to both expand their overall amount of programming and expand their unscripted content (their group chairman is Mark Burnett of Survivor and Apprentice fame, so that makes sense), and this feels like it could work on those fronts. There’s no network attached yet, so this may not wind up getting anywhere, but it’s interesting to hear it discussed again. We’ll see if the latest Gladiators revival attempt makes it further than the last one.