If it seemed Jaleel White was under the radar for a while, he certainly is making up for it this spring.
The former Steve Urkel of “Family Matters” has been most visible as a contestant on Season 14 of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” but he also made a return appearance on USA Network’s “Psych” recently. Now he turns game show host: White presides over the aptly titled Syfy series “Total Blackout,” premiering Wednesday, April 25.
“Again, it’s stepping outside my comfort zone,” White tells Zap2it of the contest that puts players in complete darkness as they compete in various challenges. “Being the host of a show, like Joe Rogan with ‘Fear Factor’ or Ashton Kutcher with ‘Punk’d,’ �it was a new experience. There are different conceits to how to be engaging with that, and I hope the degree to which I laugh on the set will translate in the editing. It’s fun to do.”
White muses that the concept of “Total Blackout” is quite simple: “Turn off the lights and watch people freak out.” He didn’t have to worry about feeling that effect himself, since he’s not actually on the course while the game is being played. He adds, though, “I did put on some night-vision goggles and go onto the stage two times, because I just wanted to see it.
“The game stage is literally pitch-black, and the cameramen obviously are looking through night-vision cameras. They’re covered in black, and you cannot see your hand in front of your face. I had never been in that type of darkness before, but I had the knowledge of what that stage looked like before they shut off the lights. The players who are on the show, they don’t even have that.”
Indeed, White notes, “When they take you into that space, you don’t know if its 500 square feet or 50,000 square feet. It’s a mind-bender, and I’m really thrilled to be associated with the show. It felt like a gift when it came to me from Fremantle (also the company behind
‘American Idol’). I said, ‘Really? You’re just gonna give me this? Thank you!’ Plus, they send great Christmas gifts.”