Dating shows never get old. They just change – and get crazier. Take the latest entry, HD Net’s “Celebridate,” an entertaining trade-up on the tried and true hosted and executive produced by Roger Lodge. Lodge spent seven years hosting “Blind Date,” and on the six-episode season of “Celebridate,” premiering Wednesday, October 12 at 8:30 pm EST on HD Net, he helps “Octomom’ Nadya Suleman, former baseball slugger Jose Canseco, KISS legend’s daughter Sophie Simmons, “American Idol”‘s Sanjaya Malakar, and New England Patriot football player Leigh Bodden look for love. It’s not what you think. Or maybe it is. We caught up with Lodge for a quick chat.
You’re the executive producer and host of “Celebridate.” Where’d you get the idea for the show? When I was doing “Blind Date,” Ryan Seacrest came on. He wasn’t Ryan the superstar, as he is now. He was starting out locally as a DJ. He did the show on a bet from me and as a joke. We ran the hell out of it. He talked about it on his radio show. We got so much bang for the buck bringing on a celebrity it made me always wonder, ‘what if we could do this show with celebrities?’ That’s how this whole “Celebridate” started.
Was it an easy sell? I pitched it to Mark Cuban while he was sitting at a Lakers-Mavericks game last season. I sent him an email in the first quarter and I think midway through the second half I’d sold the show. We did it online. It was great.
The premise of the show is that you help these folks, these celebrities, Octomom, Dean Cain, Sanjaya, and the others, get dates? Yes, though it’s not that they really need my help. Dean Cain, trust me, is not hurting for female companionship. He’s rich, good-looking, single, and available. I’m just trying to help out a bit. They made for some pretty interesting television. I’ll tell you, Octomom might be the most fascinating, most intriguing person I’ve ever spent the afternoon with. I can’t even put into words what her date was like.
That’s your first episode – Octomom Nadya Suleman. I’d never met Nadya Suleman in my life. And she was so quirky…like I said, I can’t even put it into words. You have to see it. I don’t want to call her wacky or bizarre, she’s just fascinating.
How do you go about getting Nadya Suleman a date? We put the word out. We didn’t tell the guys who exactly it was. We told them it was a well-known personality. They were intrigued. Boy, once they got there, they were in for the ride of their life. Those three guys on Nadya’s date never knew what hit them.
Why? Without giving much away, Nadya admits and swears up and down that when she goes out on a date on “Celebridate” it’s the first date of her entire life. She’s had one boyfriend, one donor. In the interview we did, she said dating was never her thing. She’s never been on a date. Ever. On our show, she went on her first and second date. You talk about a rookie just up from the minors. Let’s just say she’s not familiar how dating works.
Seriously? Could you believe it was her first date? I couldn’t believe it when she first told me that she had never been on a date? But then her uncomfortableness during her dates made me a believer! She told me on camera “As long as there is no touching we’re good!” She also told one of her daters that “Romance is nothing more than a fairy tale and all make believe”!
Nice. Her dinner date consisted of her graphic description of mothering 8 children in one sitting… Such a romantic that Octo!
So it was different? Without question. I’ve watched it 100 times. This is my company, I’m the executive producer of the show, so I’ve sat through every aspect of that show, and every time I see it I say to myself, Oh my God. I do a little interview with the celebrity to find out how their dating life is going, then they spend two minutes with three potential daters, and as soon as that is done they have to send someone home. Then they go on two dates with the two remaining. So the two guys that were left with Nadya were given an interesting ride, and they hung in there. It was a rollercoaster. It’s pretty surprising what she ends ups doing at the end.
How about the others? Any surprises? Jose Canseco was our best show, I think. It’s very entertaining. He’s great. No one’s going to believe me when I say this, but Jose Canseco is truly looking for someone. He really wants to find someone. He just can’t figure out why he’s single. He came to the show and said, “You better have three great girls because I’m coming all the way from Arizona.” He took time off from the baseball team he manages. He really wanted to find someone. Lo and behold, the girl he picked he knew a long time ago and wanted to get to know. It turns out well for him. In our interview, before he meets anyone, he really shares his biggest regret, which, believe it or not, is the book he wrote. He’d take it all back in a heartbeat. It’s a surprisingly sensitive, good show.
Tune in to “Celebridate” on Wednesday, October 12 at 8:30 pm EST.