Genial comic Drew Carey was tapped Monday to replace silver-haired legend Bob Barker on the CBS daytime game show “The Price is Right.”
The deal was set Monday afternoon shortly before a taping of CBS’ “Late Show” with David Letterman, where he confirmed it.
“I realize what a big responsibility this is,” he said. “It’s only a game show, but it’s the longest-running game show in American television and I plan to keep it that way.”
The selection attracted more attention than usual for a daytime show because of the prospect of replacing Barker, 83. Barker retired after 35 years in the job last month following taping of his 6,586th episode.
The opening attracted widespread interest, including from comic Rosie O’Donnell after she left “The View.”
Carey, 49, spent a decade on his own ABC sitcom and also was host of the improvisational game show “Whose Line is It Anyway?”
He will also be host of a new CBS prime-time game show, “The Power of 10,” that will air first next month. He told The Associated Press on Monday that CBS officials first contacted him about “The Price is Right” immediately after he completed a pilot of the other game show this spring.
“My agent called me and said ‘I was talking to CBS casting today’ and in my head I was thinking, ‘Oh, ‘CSI’ guest star?’ And he said what would you think about replacing Bob Barker on ‘The Price is Right?”’
Asked if he found the prospect of replacing such a TV legend daunting, Carey recalled talking to a friend who knows the game show business who told him, “as long as Bob Barker is cool with it, the fans will be cool with it.”
“I’m cool with it,” Barker said after hearing Carey’s remarks.
Barker said he’s not familiar enough with Carey’s past performances to offer an opinion on his selection. But, he said, “I understand he ad-libs very well and that he has a very nice, friendly way of working, and I think both of those would be helpful to him on ’The Price Is Right.”’
His advice for Carey: “Go out there and do that show the way you think it should be done. Don’t imitate me and don’t imitate anyone else.”
CBS entertainment President Nina Tassler said she was “beyond delighted” to land Carey.
“He is one of the most well-liked personalities working in entertainment, and I have no doubt his humor, charm and enthusiasm will endear him to ‘Price is Right’ viewers,” she said.
The negotiation process was nerve-racking. While he was talking with CBS about the job, Carey said he got a call from another lawyer in Hollywood who told him one of his clients was offered “The Price is Right” job.
He figured CBS had lined up back-ups if the first choice did not come through.
“If I was going after a second baseman, I wouldn’t just talk to one second baseman,” the Cleveland Indians fan said. “If I were the general manager, I would be talking to a few second basemen.”