This interview was conducted during the week of
AD: Thank you again, Mark.
MW: No problem, Alex.
AD: Can you tell us a little about your family life?
MW: Well...I've been married 16 years to Robbi Morgan Walberg. She was a child actress and dancer. She also was the first victim in the very first Friday the 13th movie! We have two children: Morgan a 12 year old boy and Goldie a 9 year old girl.
AD: Ever since Russian
Roulette came and
MW: It's Lewis. I added the middle initial to help clear up the confusion between me and the "famous" Mark Wahlberg.
AD: What got you into this business in which you are in now?
MW: After I got married, I felt like I needed to find a career. I wanted to produce television, so I got an entry level job as a "runner" at Dick Clark Productions. I really worked to learn every aspect of the T.V. business. By a little luck, I filled in for a warm-up comedian that didn't show up for a taping. After that, one thing led to another from warm-up to announcing to hosting.
AD: This interview is for “Russian Roulette” fans and others. With my talk with Gunnar Wetterberg, he said GSN has not asked for any new episodes for a while. Do you have any faith that there will be new episodes and do you have any idea why new ones haven’t been made yet?
MW: Sadly, I think we won't get a chance to do more episodes. However, I still hold out hope that the fans will make enough noise to help the show resurface someplace soon. GSN is really no longer in the game show business. I think RR happens to be one of the better game shows out there, but right now...it doesn't look good!
AD: Many people, including myself, call Russian Roulette the best [show] on GSN. It has the (far and away) best music, best lighting, best set, and in my humble opinion the best game play that has come from any show since 2000. What is working on Russian Roulette like for those 131 episodes you have made?
MW: I agree with you. Although the show was made for basic cable, it has a look that definitely plays for primetime network. Working on RR was a blast. Since I started in production, I have always had a tight bond with the crews of the shows I work on. RR is no exception. We had a great group of men and women behind the scenes. It was a low stress fun set to be on.
AD: Russian Roulette is well known for having the greatest win out of any game show for a long time. The greatest example I can see was the win with Maria Lay for 5 drop zones. Your reaction and her
reaction was priceless. What is it like giving away $100,000? Also, and be honest, how much do you just want to die laughing when you see someone fall though the Revolver?
MW: Firstly, giving away 100 grand is a rush! I always want them to go for it and I always want them to win! Watching them drop never gets old to me. I only wish the viewers had my view. the looks on their faces after they hit is priceless!
AD: One final Russian Roulette question. If GSN has not asked for it, have you thought about getting your production company to take it under with Wetterberg possibly and get it into syndication or pitch it to a network?
MW: Well, I'd love that but I don't think that's a real possibility. I'm not 100 % clear, but I'm sure that GSN and Columbia Domestic retain the rights. it becomes a real legal issue. You would think that if fans want the show, it would find success, but that's not always the case.
AD: How did you like hosting “Friend or Foe?” on April Fools 2003?
MW: You know, it was really fun. I had no idea what I was doing and that seemed just fine with Paul Buccieri the Exec. Producer. He's a good friend of mine and a great guy! he didn't care so much about executing the game well= he just wanted me to have fun, which I certainly did! Kennedy was so sweet. She stayed for the whole taping and helped me through it. I love her!
AD: I think its fitting to talk about your brand new show on PAX, On the Cover, which premieres Monday I believe. Can you give us a little insight into the game and what are some similarities or comparisons of hosting this versus Russian Roulette.
MW: Yes, ON THE COVER premieres this Monday. It's a solid little game show with some pretty funny writing with the parody magazine covers we use in round 3. It's an uncomplicated format- sort of "old school" game show. From a hosting stand point, it's a bit different. RR wanted me to be a bit biting and "dark". This show is much more 'friendly'. that being said, I really try to be me on these shows. Certainly the material leads me to play different aspects of my personality, but in the hosting world, you're best to just be you, I think!
AD: There is still a large group of people sore over the fact that PAX cancelled the best game show they ever had and one of the best in the decade, “Dirty Rotten Cheater”. What hope do you have this one for staying around for a long time?
MW: LOL...I really don't think in those terms anymore! Good shows get cancelled, bad shows last years- there is no rhyme or reason. I just try and stay in the moment!
AD: I also remember what was in my opinion one of the top 3 reality shows, House Rules. What was it like hosting that and giving a house to a lucky couple?
MW: I really loved that show. [It was a] great production company [and] great contestants. so much fun doing the live final episode and giving away a house!
AD: Any other upcoming projects people should know about that you may be hosting or your production company is taking over?
MW: I have developed a new reality show that is a cross between Sex and the City and Fear Factor! I created it with former GSN head of production, Bob Boden. We're pitching to the networks right now. Keep your fingers crossed!
AD: Your career to the public eye has had many ups and downs. You hosted one of the shortest talk shows of
all time. You hosted the biggest example of soft-core porn reality on FOX which was just a guilty pleasure to watch. You have hosted what Gunnar has told me is Sony's most successful international show since around the time Jeopardy! came out. You are known as a top MC of the past few years as well. Has your career gone as you hoped so far, and what else would you like to
do in the entertainment business?
MW: It's been a wild ride for the past 16 years! By the way, there were many talk shows that didn't last nearly as long as mine. We went a whole year- 173 hour long episodes. Much longer than Gabrielle, Danny, Charles Perez, Carnie Wilson, Robb Nelson, George and Alana, - I could go on...sensitive subject, you think? LOL :)
As far as my career hopes. I'm doing it. it's all about the marathon, not the sprint. I'm doing what I love. some shows are good, some bad- not much I can do about that. I’ve been able to survive the bad ones and capitalize on the good ones. In the next couple of years I look forward to growing my producing business and locking in to a long-running show as a host.
AD: I thank you very much sir.
MW: It's been my pleasure! Thanks for the support! Have a great day! I'm off to the On The Cover studio. Five shows today!