Marc Summers | Double Dare, Food Network & Coming Up with Letterman and Bob Saget

Marc Summers 2:50
Thank you, sir. It’s good to reconnect. After all these years, when was majority rules, I don’t remember how the

John Corcoran 2:55
majority rules was I want to say summer of 1995. And it was what was really cool about it is you know, I say to people that DreamWorks was kind of like the Tesla of its day, it was the hot company at the time at that time. You know, they didn’t have many projects at that time, actually, in majority rules, was one of its first projects that they did that they embarked on. And I remember you know, it was just such a cool experience. We were on speaking the tonight show we were on the old Tonight Show stage, you remember that?

Marc Summers 3:29
I do. I absolutely do it. When I was I there was a thrill for me because I grew up wanting to be a stand up comedian watching Johnny every night and to be performing on that stage was rather cool. Yeah, it was an interesting thing. Because the problem with that whole project that we did is Steven Spielberg wanted nothing to do with it. And because of that, you know, they pleaded with him, just get in an airplane, take the show under your arm, tell station owners that they should put it on and because your Steven Spielberg walking into their station, they’ll do it. But he wanted to make movies and the whole TV division was not interesting to him. And I think if Steven got behind it, something would have happened. But sadly, we were on in two markets we were on in Phoenix, Arizona, and New Orleans. And they were spending a fortune we were if you remember this flying the audiences in from those states and those cities to be participants, and we were writing questions based on New Orleans or based on Phoenix, depending on what we were doing. And the whole thing was absurd when you think about it, and they spent bazillions of dollars and went nowhere.

John Corcoran 4:28
It’s funny, because I mean, it had moments of genius, you know, and one of the cool things about working on that show that summer is that it was evolving and changing. And you know, Mark the other Mark Maxwell Smith, to his credit was constantly trying different things to make it work. And I remember he would come out some days and in the common area and he’d grab a bunch of us staff, like the accountants have the PhDs and he’d say, okay, we’re gonna try a different version of the show you stand up there. You’re one of the contestants He just try it a different way and just see if it worked or not. I thought it was,

Marc Summers 5:03
oh, by the way, that wasn’t his choice that it was management too many cooks in the, you know, in the kitchen trying to tell what to do. I tell you a story that I love from that show. Jeffrey Katzenberg was involved. Needless to say, because he was involved with the initial part of DreamWorks. And everybody was scared to death of Katzenberg, the one thing that I’ve realized in my career is I’m not scared of anybody. And I try not to get intimidated by no matter who you are. We’re all just people we put on our clothes the same way and I’m not gonna let you dictate to me just because supposedly you’re this big. So I was at the office one day, we weren’t shooting I forgot I was picking up a check or came to see Marc or something. And Katzenberg was there. And we had just shot me and arthel Neville was the co host of the show shots of promos that I really didn’t enjoy doing. I thought they were trying to be so creative. They were stupid. And so they were still editing at NBC and Katzenberg grabbed me by the arm says come with me, I want you to watch these with me. And so I went into the room. And we watched three or four of them. And he looked at me and said, What do you think and be honest with me, and I said, they suck. They said, I agree, but tell me why they suck. And I explained to him my point of view as to why we didn’t get the point across about what the show is and what we were doing. We were standing on this teeter totter, it was made no sense. And so he said, thank you very much for being so honest. And I left and when I left all the other executives from DreamWorks and Mark maxvill. Smith were there and they used to come in my office, go to my office, I okay. They said, What happened? I said, Well, he called me and he asked me what the promos for like and when to know my true opinion. You should well what did you tell him? I said they sucked anyway. Oh my god, don’t tell me you told him. I said, Well, he told me to be honest. And I was honest. And you know what Katzenberg and I after that we got along fabulously because he knew I was going to be honest, and I wasn’t going to kiss his ass. And I think that’s a key to an important part of the entertainment industry. Don’t tell these people what they want to hear. Tell them the truth. And in the long run, I

John Corcoran 6:54
think that works out for you. That is a great lesson. And I want to ask, you know, do you think that that is part of the reason that you’ve had, you know, such a long running stints at different networks? Nickelodeon, you had a great relationship for many years. Food Network, you had a great relationship for many years. You know, I’ve been I worked a little bit in the entertainment industry after I graduated from college, and my brother has for a lot of years My dad has for a lot of years. I know there’s a lot of you know, not so fun, nice people in the industry, so that you’re doing something right. If these if these networks have brought you back for more and more projects, what do you think is the reason that you’ve had such long relationships with these networks?

Marc Summers 7:36
You know, I can tell you the ying and yang of that. I started Nickelodeon and everybody there was new, they were trying to figure out step one, step two, step three, and they had had a lot of failures and double there was a really first big success. And we’re what put them on the map. And so after we shot for a couple years of Philadelphia, then we shot in New York for a season then back to Philly. We moved down to the Nickelodeon studios in Orlando, Florida. And they asked me if I wanted to be the tech producer. And I didn’t even know what that meant. I said sure. And so I learned basically on Nickelodeon’s dime, hire fire, edit everything. And so I was getting ready to do a special we were doing the fifth year anniversary of Double Dare. And we were having a production meeting and this girl said to me, okay, well, what do you want to do? And I said, Well, I need a teleprompter. Because in order for me to, you know, say the script, I’m not going to memorize it half hour, we need prompter. And she said, Well, we can’t afford that. I said, Why? And she says, because we need a prompter for each camera. And I said, Yeah. And she said, Well, I need five operators. If we have five cameras. I need five operators. That’s not true. One person operates all the teleprompters. Well, she got into a pissing match with me. And no matter what I said she was standing firm. She was a young kid telling me after being in the business for 100 years that I didn’t know what the hell I was talking about. Okay, so all hell broke loose. And the next thing I know, the president of network, Jerry lay born in Jeffrey Darby. And all the people who ran the place in New York found out that I was having this screaming match with this employee, and they flew down that night and said, we’ll meet you for breakfast first thing in the morning. And so this was Nick’s studios, year one. And they said to me, you’re here to teach these people how to do television. And I said, No, I’m not. I said, if I want to teach television, I’ll go get a job at NYU or Emerson and Boston University. You need to hire people know what they’re doing, because otherwise I don’t want to do this. And, you know, I don’t like people telling me what it is I’m supposed to be doing. If they’re not doing their job on the other end, and I love Jerry labored and I love Geoffrey Darby and I loved all those people. But the Knicks studios were an experiment in the making, and they were going non union and they were hiring people. I remember the first day we were shooting there. The audio guy had never done TV audio. He was a roadie with rock and roll bands and he holds the microphone he looks at he goes, you probably know how to do this better than me and he asked me to put the microphone on So somehow we got through all those days. But if you hired me to be a producer and talent, I’m not here to teach you how to do it. And that caused some animosity, obviously, we kissed and made up because I was there from 86 to 94. And then I went really well. But I think it’s important. Rachael Ray told me something really important ones, and it’s never left me. She said, when you’re going to do a job interview, you should interview that person as much as they’re interviewing you. Because if you can’t learn from them, and go to the next level, then you don’t want to work there. And that stuck in my head. And I agree with her 150%.

John Corcoran 10:33
That’s great advice. Let’s go back a little bit further. Because you one of your big love asking people about their big breaks. And a lot of times, I think, in retrospect, we like to think that there’s, it’s just like a stroke of luck. And oftentimes, if you unpack it, there’s more to it than that. So you were a CBS your page for CBS. And you got an opportunity one day to be an announcer on on the show right after I haven’t been paid. But that doesn’t usually happen that way. Like they they grab a page and like, go ahead, right? It’s your turn, you know, so it was

Marc Summers 11:07
a weird thing. Yes, well, I have a phrase that I live by, and it’s true, the harder you work, the luckier you get, okay, things don’t just happen magically. And so the story that day was Mark Smith again, integral part and both of our lives normally did the warm ups on Joker’s wild. And something happened at his house. And he couldn’t show up. So somebody from jack Berry’s production company ran downstairs to the pages lounge where I just happened to be sitting that day. And they said, the warm up guy for Joker’s wild. Can’t be here Is anybody here that has any theater experience, I raised my hand, they said, Get your ass up there. And so I ran up there. And I did the warm ups on Joker’s wild that day. Well, someone ended up Mark Smith started to really explode in his career, and he couldn’t do everything. And so he went to work for Ralph Edwards on a show called Truth or Consequences and many other things. And they needed somebody to take that job. And because I had done, you know, one of those under my belt and apparently did a good job, I therefore got hired to do the rest of that season. So you know, right place right time. But I can tell you other situations where you have to make the moments work for a while I was standing on a TV show called soap on ABC. And I did that for an entire season was on many times behind the scenes, never any lines, but you know, eating in a restaurant or just background silliness. And I noticed that the warm up guy wasn’t doing particularly well. And so I put that in the back of my head. And I started to do warm ups more and more. I was working on a TV show called Alice and I was working on Star Search and various other shows. And I call cold call, Tony Thomas. And Paul wood and Susan Harris were the exact producers. So I called Tony Thomas, why took my phone call to this day. I have no idea. I said, Hi, my name is Marc. I’ve been an extra. But I also do warm ups and I noticed your warm up guys and doing a very good job. Are you thinking to make any changes? And he said it was a matter of fact, we’re we’re thinking about that. He said, You know, we’re doing a run through this Friday. Why don’t you come in and do the run through if we like you, we’ll give you the season if not Have a nice life. So I went in there made an opportunity happen and killed. And for the next four years, I was the warm up guy on so well that that opened up all sorts of doors because so at the time was the hottest sitcom in the country. And other shows started to hear about the show and they would come and see me. Now at the time, there were three studios back to back to back to the left of me they were doing Barney Miller, the warm up guy was some young comic by the name of David Letterman. To the right of me, there was a show called bosom buddies. And there was a young comic over there by the name of Bob Bob Saget. So David Letterman and Summers were all doing warm ups on these three TV shows, studios that were back to back to back, once soap became hot. And all of a sudden, I was getting phone calls like crazy. And I started picking up warm ups. And in fact, Gary Shandling was doing the warm up on Alice, and they didn’t like him. And I ended up going and replacing Shandling because of the success I had on soap. So I got to be known as the King of warmups, I was working six days a week making six figures back when I didn’t even think that was possible, asking people where they were from. But the reality of it was that got very tired, boring and old and I didn’t want to be behind the scenes. I wanted to be in front of the camera and there in the problem was lying and I had to figure out how to get in front instead of behind.

John Corcoran 14:22
I love Garry Shandling but you have to give energy to a crowd and doing warm up is a different set of skills I would I couldn’t really see him as a warm up guy. I want to ask you So Mark Maxwell Smith, hilarious guy you know I mean in a minute and I saw him warm up audiences many times and he just had amazing skill at it. How do you step in to a role like that and be yourself and now you have a lot of experience you obviously you’ve done. Work at the improv Magic Castle though it’s not like you were a complete rookie. But there’s always that tension in life right when you’re stepping in to fill in someone else’s shoes to How do you be yourself and put your own imprint on it?

Marc Summers 15:03
Well, I think you know, the reason Johnny Carson was successful is he was himself. Did Kevin any successful talk show host or host in general dick block, my mentor always says all TV shows are the same until the person says hello. And if you like the way they say, Hello, you’ll stick around. And if you don’t, you won’t. And so I can’t teach somebody to be likable. But certainly I was gifted in the fact that I was born in the Midwest, and for whatever reason, did Kevin Midwest Johnny Carson, Midwest, Marc Summers Midwest, many of the successful hosts came from that part of the country, whether it was Iowa, Nebraska, Indiana, Ohio, you know it for some reason, made it happen. And all I can be is who I am, I never pretended to be anybody else. You know, when I was working the Comedy Store and Robin Williams took off all of a sudden there were 10 versions of Robin Williams. And when Letterman took off, there were 10 versions of Letterman. And the one thing I learned is, if there’s already a Robin Williams, why do I need another one, you need to be who you are, and create your own brand, so to speak, although that term wasn’t being used back in 76 when they started a store. But I think unless you are true to who you really are, and try to quote impersonate somebody else, it’s never going to

John Corcoran 16:08
work. And you and Letterman both from Indiana, and so you’re both doing warm up. What did you learn from those other guys observing, you know, Letterman observing Sagat during that time period?

Marc Summers 16:19
Well, Saget did more humor. He played a guitar. He was funny as hell always was very good. Not my style. I’m folksy. Letterman is folksy. So I got to know the people I asked about their families and what they did. And I had, I did magic up there. And I had some games that I played. But I was just basically who I was, and pretended I was in somebody’s living room trying to entertain them. And that’s what worked for me once again, if I tried to be something that I wasn’t, if I tried to jump all over the stage and be like, Robin, it would never work because people would know instantaneously. That’s not who I was. So you know, I started doing magic shows when I was 1112 years old. Back in Indiana. I was on a Kids TV show called Popeye and Janie. And by the time I hit Boston, where I went to college, I had a certain amount of performing experience. I was working coffee houses, it was the early 70s back in Boston. And then when it came to Los Angeles became a regular at the Comedy Store in the Magic Castle. So you know, the more experience you get, the better you get. And you know, people say to me, Well, I want to be a host How do I do that? I said, Well, you got to figure out how to get in front of an audience and work on your craft. You just don’t automatically get the job hosting the tonight show. You got to build up to it. And a lot of people don’t want to work that hard and therefore, you know,

John Corcoran 17:30
they’re never gonna make it. Do you remember exactly how you got the double dare call?

Marc Summers 17:35
Oh, I tell you the host double their story. It’s fascinating. I kind of had one foot out the door. I was trying. I was doing warrants like crazy. I was making, you know, six figures, but I was miserable. And I wanted to host and they kept saying to me I look too young. You know, at the time it was jack Berry and Bob Eubanks and Gene Rayburn. And they said, I looked like a Boy Scout come back when I have gray hair and wrinkles. All of a sudden, you know, Nickelodeon takes off, but I didn’t know what Nickelodeon was. So there was a guy Dave garrison, who was a ventriloquist back in Indiana, when I was growing up. And then he moved to Los Angeles and was starting to do I was hosting open mic night at the improv on Monday nights. And Dave used to come in there. And I get a phone call one day from Dave saying, Hey, Marc, I got a phone call from some network I’ve never heard of called Nickelodeon. And they’re doing a game show. I don’t even know what it’s called. You know, I don’t want to be in front of the camera anymore. I’m just not willing to work that hard to be talent. I’m going to move behind the scenes and become a producer. So why don’t you go to this audition instead of me. So I went and when they called Dave Garrison’s name, I said, Dave down here, but my name is Marc, and I audition. Instead, they said, Sure, which I don’t think you’d even do that today, either. Yeah, I did the audition. And it went really well. I got three callbacks. Now. I started auditioning in July. So I had a callback in July one in August. And I knew that we got to start shooting in Philadelphia, the first week of September. So I always took the name down of the exec producer, and the casting agent when I went into these auditions. And I didn’t hear from them. And I was curious, because I thought I did a damn good job. So I called Mike Klinghoffer, who was exact producer and I said, Hey, you know, I haven’t heard from you guys. I did those three callbacks. Are you still looking to find a host for Double Dare? And he said, You know what, it’s funny you call, we were just discussing that we’d like you and one other guy, but we can’t figure out which one of you to hire. And I said, well, what’s the issue? Well, when we did the auditions, there were grownups playing the party kids. So we never really worked with kids. And we said, well, we don’t know if you’re good with kids or not. And I said, Well, I have two kids. He said, Well, that’s not good enough. And I said, Well, I just for kids parties. He said, That’s not good enough. So I said, Why don’t you fly me and whoever this other person is to New York, put us in a studio with kids, and do the show and let the best person when he said an hour, so call me back in an hour. He said, What are you doing over Labor Day? And I said, coming to New York and doing the audition? He said yes. So they flew me and whoever this other person was to this day, I don’t know who it was. We went in and both did the auditions. I went first I left the state stage. They wouldn’t let me see who it was. He came in and did it. That was on a Monday, on Wednesday at 10 o’clock in the morning. My phone rings that’s my claim. Received Congratulations. You’re the host of Double Dare. I said, Can I ask you a question? Have you auditioned 1000 people in New York and you tell me 1000 people in LA? Why did I get the job? And he said, quite honestly, the two of you were about the same. But at the end of his audition, he looked in the camera and said, is that it? Or do you guys want me to do something else? And I looked at the camera, and I said, we’ll be back with more Double Dare, right after this. And because I through the commercial, they thought that was more professional. It changed my life.

John Corcoran 20:27
Wow, that one thing, that’s amazing. That’s amazing. But it goes back to what you’re saying about being prepared. Right? Like, yeah, you were prepared. You had experience you put putting in the time,

Marc Summers 20:38
I had been writing game shows, certainly watching them since I was a kid. And, you know, but if I would have gotten that I was 33. When I got that audition, if I was 23, I would have never gotten it because I wasn’t seeing it.

John Corcoran 20:50
Right. Right. Do you know, did you sense that you were going to be honest, something big? Did what did you send out double there?

Marc Summers 20:57
No, I thought we’ll do it. We’ll do 65 of these, I’ll go home and never do it again. Which is the way I’ve looked at every show, you know, the fact that we’re doing these in anybody with watches, you know, mind boggling to me. So the first day was miserable. It took us you know, eight hours to shoot one episode. And it was just a friggin nightmare. And I just thought, Well, you know, this ain’t going anywhere. But each day it got better and better and better. And to the point we were in about Episode 40. And I looked at the team and I went, you know, I think we’re onto something here. Well, when it hit the airwaves, Nickelodeon had done homework and find out that kids didn’t have their own game show. They were living vicariously through their parents watching price in real Jeopardy and stuff like that. And so all of a sudden, we became as they used to refer to us as my show. And it was something called playground talk that everybody had cable back in 1986. So kids would go and tell other kids on the playground, hey, I saw this show where people jumped into 5000 pounds of baked beans. And then when a computer, you know, what’s a computer they didn’t even know it was, you know, we were the first ones to give the Apple computers away. And word of mouth carried us through and all of a sudden, we were doing shopping centers where we were drawing 5000 people, then all of a sudden, we were doing malls, we would draw our I’m sorry, theaters, we were drawing 15 or 20,000 people, and it became a phenomenon.

John Corcoran 22:13
That’s so cool. I want to flash forward to your association with Food Network for many years, and even your son has done work with my brother. It’s funny. We’re connecting the dots. Turns out my brother Andrew, and your son have worked together, which is really cool. And some Food Network shows. So how did that association come about? did was it the big beans connection that the network was like, Okay, we got to have this guy.

Marc Summers 22:37
I used to throw thing food people now. So that was talking about the history of it. No, that was a mistake as well. For some reason. People have always thought I was a producer, why I have no idea. And so I ideas pitched me all the time. And I wasn’t really interested in being a producer. But you know, I thought it shows a good idea. And I had a lot of connections, I would set up meetings. So I was doing a talk show on lifetime called our home. And we had a woman Her name is Rose and gold who was a chef had written a book called recipes 123 when a change beard award, and she was a regular on my show, and I loved her. So she had another concept based on the recipes. 123 James Beard award winning book. So I made a meeting a Food Network. And all the time I was pitching Roseanne, who was sitting right next to me, they kept saying, Well, why don’t you do a show for us. But why don’t you do a show for us I can think of Why the hell would I do I don’t even cook and I was talking about well, somebody a Food Network had done their homework and realized I had this following from the Nickelodeon days who all got older and now we’re somewhat following to wherever I went, they were following me to lifetime and they thought, well, we’re a fledgling network networker. Maybe we can get summers up, draw an audience here as well. And what

John Corcoran 23:40
year was this? This is 1999. So very early in the Food Network days. Really, really okay. And that’s kind of your forte, early in a network.

Marc Summers 23:51
Yes, yeah, I’ll build it. And so they offered me a job. The show was called, it’s a surprise. It was about surprise parties. The surprise was nobody was watching. It was a horrible show. But I was special for them. It was called the National Team pastry championship somewhere in some mountain town in Colorado. And they gave me especially a duck called unwrapped. And the host was Mark Silverstein, who was hosting another show on on Food Network. They said what you think about hosting the show as a regular like once a week deal. And I looked at the pilot or of the special and I said, You know, I think what biography was to add back in the day when everybody was watching that I said this could be same thing for Food Network. And so we shot 13 of them, I believe, and they put us on Monday nights at 1030. We were dying after the first three weeks and the president of the channel called me and said you’re killing me. But I’m gonna move you to nine o’clock on Monday nights. And if you do well, great, otherwise, you’re fired. They put us on Monday nights at nine o’clock the audience exploded. Next thing I know we’re on from nine to 10 and then we’re doing a game show called trivia unwrapped and it was 90 minutes of marks numbers on Monday night it was all Marc all the time. And I explained to the network that I didn’t want to watch 20 minutes of Marc Summers know that I think anybody should be subjected to that. And again, if you didn’t work particularly well, and that was fine, but we shot God knows hundreds of episodes of unwrapped. And that was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. And then from there, I did other shows. I was the first post for a couple of years of next Food Network Star I was there to help chrome guy for Yeti when he won. And, you know, then did dinner impossible restaurant impossible and Bennett Food Network. I was there for 20 years.

John Corcoran 25:32
Wow, what was the relationship like with the obviously, you must have had some kind of good relationship with the powers that be their

Marc Summers 25:39
idea, you know, Judy Gerard, who was the first person who hired me and tell you what a great relationship I had with her. I get a phone call one day and she’s and the message was, you need to call me and I thought, Oh my God, when I hear you need to call me. That makes me nervous. So I picked up the phone to Judy’s everything. All right. She said, Yeah, I just want to tell you something. I’m leaving the channel. And I tore up your contract. So call your agent. So what do you mean, he tore up my contract? Just Just call your agent. And she knew she was leaving. I had another year on my contract. Judy gave me an additional three years for an exorbitant rates. And it was because of the relationship and then play with that relationship came from. I was hosting a show on lifetime called Biggers in Summers, it was a talk show. And also, we did six months of it didn’t work. So Judy came in she was head of programming at night lifetime at the time, and fires. And so I said to her, can I have access to an edit room? And she said, Why? And I said, Well, I need a job, I need to go in there and make a new sizzle reel. So if you’ll let me take some of the clips and use your editor, it’ll save me a fortune. And then I can use it to go out and try and find the next job. And she said, Wow, I’m surprised that you’re not more upset. I said, Well, I am upset, Judy, but what am I supposed to do scream and yell and jump up and down. He decided the show wasn’t working, he fired me. Anything I say is going to change that. So let’s just move on. And then I wrote her a note thanking her for giving me the opportunity. Well, our relationship was bonded and merged in such a great way at that time, that when she moved to another network and hired me, she trusted me and gave me a huge raise based on the relationship. So relationships are key no matter where you go. And you never know when those relationships begin and where they’re going to extend to because in show business, nobody’s anywhere for longer than three years. They go from network to production company to God knows where. And you want to make sure that when they go to that new place and you’re looking for a job that you didn’t leave on bad terms

John Corcoran 27:36
and and perfect example is that is your relationship with Mark Maxwell Smith, who calls you up to he sells his show to DreamWorks early on in DreamWorks history and brings in his trusted old friend to be a host of it. What What was that? Like when he called you up and said, I got a project for you Marc?

Marc Summers 27:52
Well, but I had to audition I went through a lot of auditions. And it was it was tortured. But I gotta tell you, I would have never gotten the job wasn’t Marc. He was the one who kept pushing. There were other people there who weren’t so sure. But he’s the one who said he’s my guy. I think he’s the person who can pull it off. And because he gave me that support, he was able to convince a roomful of, you know, Spielberg’s Katzenberg and whoever, and it worked out. And you know, Mark Smith is my first friend in Los Angeles. I was a page on Joker’s wild. I saw him running around like a crazy man, I went up and introduced myself. That was in 1974. So 8494 204 to 14. I’ve known Mark 46 years now. Wow. Yeah.

John Corcoran 28:35
Yeah, great friendship. You know, one of the things that strikes me about you is how you don’t take setbacks. You don’t you are constantly taking initiative, you’re hustling. You’re not gonna wait for something to come to you. You’re not going to sit at home waiting for the phone to ring. Do you think that that’s something that you were just born with? Is that something you had to learn? How did you become that way?

Marc Summers 28:57
I lectured colleges, and my opening line is nobody got up this morning and said, I gotta go find Marc Summers a job today. Nobody cares about Marc Summers. I’m the only person responsible for my career and my life and my happiness is me. I’ve never had an agent ever give me a job. I’ve got my own jobs because I knew how to make phone calls and build relationships. They’ve made the deals, which I don’t do, but they’ve never gotten a job and I go back to when I was a kid I used to live on talk shows Mike Douglas Merv Griffin, Johnny Carson, whoever had a talk show I was watching. And Merv Griffin was doing an hour with Bob Hope. And at the end of the hour, he said one final question, Bob, if you had to point to one person who made your career, who would it be and hope pointed to himself and said me? I’m the one who made it happen? And yes, there have been occasional people. I mean, the mark Maxwell smithing is magical and doesn’t happen often. But 92% of everything that’s happened in my career I did on my own.

John Corcoran 29:55
I can’t leave this interview without asking you about the Burt Reynolds tonight. Show Episode for those who haven’t seen it, I will embed it in the post. So you can watch it. Tell me a little bit about what was going through your head as it unfolded? Did Was this something that was a setup you guys planned beforehand? No. Okay. All right.

Marc Summers 30:14
Let me tell you what happened. You know, from the time I was a kid, I wanted to be on The Tonight Show wanted to be on with Johnny, needless to say, but unfortunately, that didn’t happen. I kept auditioning when I was doing stand up. They never thought I was good enough. So great. When I became the host of like, I think I was doing four different shows. I was doing Double Dare, what would you do and my lifetime show and I had a syndicated show called pick your brain. And so I was like hosting for shows. And my publicist at the time handled a bunch of people and they wanted Jason Alexander Seinfeld who was just being cancelled or stopping. They were never cast, they quit on their own accord, but and they want to Jason Alexander, to be a regular on The Tonight Show. So my publicist said, Oh, if you want him, I need you to talk to Marc Summers since you could get him on the show. So they promised me to be on the show for a year and I kept getting bumped as they said, they booked me and unblock me and booked being on booked me and I’m really down

John Corcoran 31:04
at the studio.

Marc Summers 31:07
They would call me the day before and say Change of plans changed. You know, you wonder after a year, was I just being jerked around or was I really going to do the show? So I get a phone call. Guess what you’re on, no matter what we’re not going to cancel fantastic. So the car the limo comes and picks me up at my house. The time in Calabasas and as we’re going on the Ventura freeway, it gets flat tire. It’s like, you know, nine TV now, though, I get there. 15 minutes before Showtime. You know, Jay comes into my dressing. Okay, great. Thanks, Jay. And so Burt Reynolds was going through a divorce with Lani Anderson and was on this book tour and was in a surly mood is in a funk. Oh, my God. It was unbelievable. And Jay, in fact, made some comments about him the night before, which I guess I was watching wasn’t too happy. So he says really funny, but I guess biting things to Burt. And when Burt came out to do a segment he was pissy In fact, he had a pair of scissors and it came out and cut a tie off. Well, that blew me away because one of the things I was going to do was a magic trick. I was going to do cut restore tie. Now all of a sudden. What the hell am I supposed to do so like this disaster going on? Back in the greenroom. Go now What the hell do we do? And he was supposed to do he did Burt

John Corcoran 32:24
know about that? Do you think

Marc Summers 32:28
it was a strangest night of my life. And but he was at pissed. So I’m in the green room. And Bubert supposed to do two segments. And then I’m supposed to do the third and then carry topic comedian supposed to be on board? Well, birds doing so well, in sort of a strange way that he did three segments. Now they have to come backstage and bump one of us and they were getting ready to bump me and my publicist said if you bump Summers one more time, Jason Alexander will never do this show as long as I live. And so they want to Jason that much. So they told carrot up to you know, come back tomorrow. And they put me on. And so I came out and started to talk. And Jay was asking me about Double Dare and this and that. And he was asking me about being a need to spin attic. I talked about that part of my life. And Burt says you know who said you were need to spin attic and he kept heckling me during the prelude to this you

John Corcoran 33:18
did not get far into it before he started giving you trouble

Marc Summers 33:21
started to just drive me nuts. And I said my wife told me and by the way, Burt, I’m still married. Well, he had a glass of water his hand he ported my crotch. Okay. Everybody says this. This was planned. Trust me. This was not set up. First of all, I’m not that good of an actor. And I wasn’t set up at all. So I went to get a glass of water to pour back on him. He straight on me and the cup. The porcelain cup hit me in my face. I hit the tooth, okay, that’s all real. I mean, he was he was angry, and he is art. And, you know,

John Corcoran 33:54
even by the way, he can’t tell from the video that you got angry. You were seemed unflappable.

Marc Summers 34:00
Well, you know, I was a stand up comic, and I had had hecklers. And I looked at him as a heckler and he was MySpace. I waited too damn long to get there. And eventually, there’s another cup in front of me and I poured it on him. And the audience, which you don’t see because the audience was Turner gave me a standing ovation when he was they were now saying, Yeah, what the hell? Why is he attacking this? You know, nice guy who does these kids shows. And it ended up in this massive pie fight. And people say, well, where the hell did the pies come from? Well, at the time, Letterman was beaten Jade hands down. And they thought, well, let’s do a pie fight. And Jay said, I don’t want to do that kind of humor to get get an audience. So they put the props away. But when he saw the burden, I would go into each other. There’s if you go back and look at the tape, you see Jay looking in the camera and saying, Get the pies. I saw I didn’t know what that meant. And the prop guy ran behind backstage and came back all of a sudden with some cans of whipped cream and some pies and we went you know, back to back and ended a pie fight. And, you know, so the next Day, the headline The New York Post says Burke goes berserk on tonight. You know, I’m on Entertainment Tonight and every other show and people saying, you know what the hell happened? And I didn’t even know In fact, you know, he says to me during the commercial break, he had his book there that he was pushing. And he leans over to me and says, What’s your broads name? I said, Excuse me. He said, What’s your broads name? I said, my wife. He goes, Yeah, your wife. And he, you know, did a subscript, inscription to me, you know, dear Marc, whatever. I had the book in the garage somewhere. But anyway, and then the next day, he talked to a friend of mine who said that I was a bottom feeder of show business, and I didn’t give the movie store any respect. So you know, it will be changing point in my career to this day. And it was 1994. When that happened there. There’s probably not a week that goes by where somebody doesn’t ask me about was it setup? It really happened? Yeah. You know, that kind of stuff. And it was the crazy stuff. And that was the first night that Jay actually tied. Dave in the ratings. So Wow. Yeah.

John Corcoran 35:59
Wow, what a great story. Wow, what a crazy story. But I know you have some some other projects you’re working on. Now. You’ve got there’s a new there’s a discovery streaming channel. And you’ve got a couple of shows that are coming up with that. Tell us a little about those.

Marc Summers 36:12
Yeah, discovery plus is launching January 4, and I did I have a partner in chive. And if you look up Ian Shai, he is one of the best photographers in the world. And he is the official photographer for the National Park Service. couple years back, we got discovery into Cuba, and we did a shark special in Cuba. That was so much fun. And we got together again and started put some projects together. And we have two that are going to be launching once digital already called nature and focus. But the one that’s launching on Discovery bus is called the last frontier. And we went to some islands up near Russia that have not been inhabited in hundreds of years. And it’s more of a science in nature, about seals and birds and how man affects them in the environment. And it’s quite fascinating. And we have to get a chance to tune in and see that, you know, I’ve gone from, you know, doing magic to stand up comedy to warm ups, to throw in green liquids and 11 year olds to talking about the history of food, and I’m doing science and nature. So it’s been quite an interesting career.

John Corcoran 37:16
It’s fun to do, you know, to explore new dimensions, new elements, new formats, streaming, that’s a, you know, the thing now these days seems to be Yeah, well, maybe that’ll be your new network that you build up this, this discovery streaming. Marc, this has been such a pleasure to reconnect with you and to kind of go through some of these different highlights. Where can people go learn more about you connect with you, you know,

Marc Summers 37:40 is my website. In you know, the real Marc Summers on Instagram and all those other Facebook and Twitter and all that kind of good stuff and love to hear what people have to say and what’s going on in their minds. I’m also on cameo ik that’s another crazy thing. You know, they kept asking me to do it. I kept saying no, they finally convinced me. And that’s, I’d like I did 16 cameos last week I did. I mean, it’s just fun to sort of interact, you know, with fans, you know, I’m wishing them Happy Birthday, Happy anniversary, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, you name it. So, you know, if you’re so inclined, and you want me to wish you something or say something to the member, your family or your office, hey, I’m doing that too.

John Corcoran 38:24
I think that’s awesome that you’re doing that because you know, that made someone’s week, month year, you know, they they tell their friends about it, you know, I think it goes to, you know, goes to why you’ve had a long career and in show business is because you’re willing to do that sort of thing.

Marc Summers 38:39
Well, you know, the comments that people make, like I went this morning and said, You know, my dad says the greatest gift I ever got to her father had been on show I used to host called history IQ for History Channel back in the day. And so I actually did a little quiz show with him where I asked him five questions about presidents and so you know, I’m having fun what the hell you know, I mean, that’s all these times You can’t leave your house. So nice. We’ll be able to entertain you know yourself and have fun the luxury of your bedroom, your office.

John Corcoran 39:10
That’s super cool, Marc. It’s been a pleasure. Thanks so much, John.

Outro 39:14
Thank you for listening to the Smart Business Revolution Podcast with John Corcoran. Find out more at And while you’re there, sign up for our email list and join the revolution. And be listening for the next episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast.