People can't get enough of the 'Guinness World Records: Primetime'

By Kristen Baldwin
September 04, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT

The most talked-about TV show this summer is Fox’s gleefully grotesque Guinness World Records: Primetime. Little wonder, given the program’s mesmerizing array of frightful sights, including a 303-pound tumor, a man with the world’s longest fingernails, and an eye-popping eyepopper. Guinness‘ July 28 debut was the net’s most-watched Tuesday series premiere ever, and the program continues to lure more than 12 million viewers each week. Fox initially ordered only 12 episodes for a summer run but now will likely bring it back as a mid-season replacement. EW grilled the gurus at Guinness for more info on the zaniest new entry to the tube.

WHERE DO GUESTS COME FROM? Producers have access to Guinness’ files, including records not published in the book itself. The staff also scours papers and TV for the bizarre, and wades through roughly 700 calls a week from wannabe record breakers. ”Every individual is treated with dignity,” cautions exec producer Eric Schotz. ”We embrace their oddity.”

WHAT GETS REJECTED? Even Fox has to be PC sometimes, so no smoking, drinking, or coitus-related records allowed. Similarly, the Dirk Digglers of the world are out of luck. Says Schotz, ”We’ve had several people offer us largest genitalia.” While producers also won’t entertain flatulence records, they’re mulling over other ”personal noise” feats, like speed burping.

WHAT’S NEXT? Segments taped for the following weeks include the world’s fastest rapper, the world’s most flexible man (see him walk forward with his feet turned backward!), a man who will attempt to sit in a bathtub filled with rattlesnakes, and Concrete Man, who withstands a slab of concrete being broken on his crotch with a sledgehammer. ”We have the credibility of the book behind us,” says Schotz. ”We’re not trying to turn it into a freak show.”

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