Syfy greenlights 'Geeks Who Drink': Exclusive interview with host Zachary Levi
The 'Chuck' star talks his new pub quiz show (and 'Thor 3')
This summer, Syfy will launch a different kind of trivia game. Geeks Who Drink is based on the national pub trivia contest of the same name—a pop culture quiz played in over 600 bars across the US. In TV form, Syfy will give it an additional twist: Two teams wll compete, and each team will feature a celebrity team captain.
Geeks Who Drink premieres on Thursday, July 16th—one week after Comic-Con!—and is produced in part by The Nerd Machine, the company founded by Chuck‘s Zachary Levi. In addition to his role as executive producer, Levi will also host Geeks Who Drink. EW got on the phone with Levi for an exclusive chat.
How did this show come together?
Geeks Who Drink was kind of the pre-eminent pub trivia circuit. There’s a lot of pub trivia one-offs in different cities and states, but Geeks Who Drink was the most well-known franchise, and they had the most organization—centralized quizmasters and quizzes and whatnot. Wired did a piece on them a little while back, and Conde Nast was so intrigued that they wanted to make a television show about it. They brought that to Kinetic [Content, a production company], and Kinetic brought that to me and The Nerd Machine. We made this really great pilot presentation, and Syfy loved it.
But we still needed to the appropriate host. The powers that be said: “We really think you’re that guy.” I’ve always had an interest in hosting stuff. I think it can be a lot of fun. Since this was already my baby anyway, I thought, “Why not. I’ll do my best Trebek, and have a beer or two.” We want to keep the heart of Geeks Who Drink—the pub circuit—very pure. But we’re also trying to translate that to television, and trying to find ways to do that that are very organic.
Have you been going back and studying other game-show hosts to prepare yourself?
One of the things I told myself a long time ago was, I want to try and check off as many boxes as I can in the world that we live and work in. And whether that’s hosting a talk show, or a game show, or whatever—I’m just trying to have as much fun as I can. And maybe channeling a little Bob Barker. I’d like to have one of those long microphones.
Are you gonna be drinking?
I will! The contestants will definitely be drinking. I might have a sip or two. I need to hold down the fort, so I can’t let that get too out of hand. Somebody’s gotta wrangle the cats. But it’s gonna be very responsible. We don’t want anyone getting smashed on television. It’s similar to Hollywood Game Night in that regard. It’s a relaxed format.
I seem to recall that you’re pretty good at trivia. Do you have much experience on the pub trivia scene?
I’m pretty good. I really love pop culture and technology and a lot of things we’ll be covering. But I could not recite to you everything there is to know about Harry Potter. I’ll be learning a lot as we go.
Will you have some version of Geeks Who Drink at Comic-Con this year?
What I can say is that we’ll definitely be promoting it in some way.
Let’s talk blue-sky ambitions here: Who would be your dream celebrities competing on Geeks Who Drink?
I’m always about making fans happy. I want fan-favorites that would blow people’s minds—and I want to let people to see them in a fun and simultaneously challenging situation. The Joss Whedons of the world, the William Shatners. Nathan Fillion, Seth Green, Matt Smith, a lot of my friends in this world—anyone that fans would tune in and say, “I’m glad I got to see that side of that person.”
I know it’s impossible for you to answer any questions about the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but can you confirm or deny that Thor: Ragnarok will be entirely about Fandral the Dashing?
[Laughs] I can deny that. But I hope that Fandral’s in it, and I hope that he has some really awesome stuff to do in it. Swinging swords and riding horses is always dream-come-true stuff for me. I know the boys are hard at work writing the new script, and I hope there’s a lot of Fandral love in it.
Geeks Who Drink