Trump’s New Streaming Venture to Be Run by ‘Deal or No Deal’ Producer
(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump’s pick to lead what he says will be a new streaming service is a veteran producer of game shows, including “Deal or No Deal” and “America’s Got Talent,” and has worked with one of the former president’s biggest lampooners, Alec Baldwin.
Scott St. John will oversee TMTG+, the online video service of Trump Media and Technology Group, which the company says will feature “non-woke” entertainment programming, news, sports, documentaries and podcasts. St. John has previously spoken enthusiastically about making shows that are “easily digestible” to viewers and giving contestants a chance to improve their lives.
The streaming service is one part of the former president’s broader effort to create a media company that will “disrupt big tech” and capitalize on the millions of followers that he had on Twitter and Facebook before being banned in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 insurrection. TMTG+ aims to compete with Netflix, Hulu and Disney+, according to a presentation posted on the company’s website.
“I couldn’t begin to tell you what experience he has that would lead to the position he’s in,” Cory Anotado, founder of BuzzerBlog, a game show industry news website, said of St. John. “It feels very out of nowhere.”
The website for Trump’s company makes no mention of game shows, which typically steer clear of politics, though it does include a photo of the former president handing a trophy to a sumo wrestler and headlines about the ratings success for his former reality show, “The Apprentice,” and the Miss Universe pageant.
Still, in the world of game shows, St. John is one of the few producers with any name recognition among fans of the genre, Anotado said. According to his IMDb page, St. John has produced about 30 game shows over more than two decades.
St. John, via his lawyer, didn’t respond to a request for comment. A press representative for Trump Media and Technology Group didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.
St. John said in a 2008 interview with the radio show “Mantalk” that he grew up in North Palm Beach, Florida, then went to film school at the University of Southern California. He said he got his start in Hollywood as a personal assistant.
He said one of the first shows he worked on was a dating contest called “Studs,” where two men go on blind dates with the same three women then answer questions about their dates. The winner is crowned the “Ultimate Stud.”
In 2010, St. John produced a show on ABC called “Downfall,” where players answered trivia questions on top of a skyscraper. If they lose, the money they’ve won flies off the side of the building.
One of his biggest hits was “Deal or No Deal,” which was hosted by comedian Howie Mandel. In a 2008 radio interview, St. John described persuading Mandel to host the show by meeting him at a local deli and playing a tabletop version of the game. He has attributed the show’s success to it being easy to follow, dramatic and because it has female models holding briefcases with money. “Those 26 models don’t hurt, either,” he said in a 2007 interview with the Associated Press.
St. John also produced ABC’s 2016 “Match Game,” the revival of a show that first appeared in the 1960s in which contestants could win money by matching the answers of celebrities. The new show was hosted by Baldwin, who also skewered Trump with satiric impersonations on “Saturday Night Live” during his presidency.
“To hire someone who was in charge of an Alec Baldwin vehicle is really funny,” Anotado said.
St. John’s skill as a producer is his consistency, letting contestants be themselves and building tension through pauses and background music, Anotado said.
“He has a specific style,” Anotado said. “He’s good at giving contestants the space to be human in situations that no human should ever be in.”
The New York Times once described St. John’s shows, like “1 vs 100,” where a single player competes in trivia against 100 other contestants, as “aspirational reality shows that allow ordinary Joes to go for it all in the hope of transforming their lives.”
It’s an assessment that St. John seems to share. Game shows “offer people the chance to better their lives in a fun way and exciting way,” he told TVWeek. “Things don’t always turn out as great as you hoped, but at least you’re given a chance.”
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