Bruce Campbell interview: Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Infotainment with soul

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Bruce Campbell – Hosting Ripley’s from Orlando – Courtesy of Joe Burbank-Orlando Sentinel

Turning the Page to an Extraordinary Chapter

1428 Elm: Nice to talk with you again, Bruce! We are very excited about your latest project, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Now, we know you were a Ripley’s fan in your youth. How did you become involved with Discovery Channel and Texas Crew? Was this series something that you sought out or by happenstance was it one of those interesting projects that came across your agent’s desk?

Bruce Campbell: It’s pretty much that. It comes across the desk and then you evaluate it. And one of the questions I ask these days is anybody involved that I ever heard of? So, one of them was Ripley, I heard of that and the other was Travel Channel and I’m like, “I’ve heard of that!” They were two for two.

We kept chatting and it wound up being a good fit. I’m an executive producer as well and what is important to me about that is to be able to have a voice about the tone.

There’s no “Ew!” factor here. We’re not pointing any fingers; we are 100% celebrating the extraordinary. Which is people that have overcome crazy disabilities, who have the skill of taking it to ridiculous abilities. There is a lot of overcoming here. I find it to be very encouraging.

1428 Elm: When you were a young actor in Detroit, you hosted industrials. More recently, you hosted Last Fan Standing. So, it would seem that you have come full circle, so to speak. At this point in your career is hosting more appealing than acting?

BC: It’s not so much the acting. The format appeals to me. I’m not lying on a dirt floor covered in blood with chainsaw rigs being put on my hand looking at tennis balls on sticks.

Ripley’s has very straightforward stories about people. The only fantasy element of this is how fantastical it all seems. And yet it is grounded completely in reality. That aspect is what appealed to me. It’s kind of like human Marvel heroes.

By the end of the hour, you will feel better than you did at the beginning of the hour. Because you will see people overcoming a lot of challenges when frankly some would have thrown in the towel. That can be impressive and uplifting.

The purpose of entertainment is to distract us from our miserable lives but in some cases when entertainment is done right it can elevate the species.

More from Bruce Campbell

1428 Elm: Do you have any stories from this season that were particularly memorable for you?

BC: No and I’m going to say that over and over again. It’s like picking a favorite child. They are all amazing. I couldn’t even remember them all anyway. There are 60 stories in this first season. It’s crazy, the number of stories.

It’s just something that I think people will watch. The feats themselves are amazing but the important thing to realize is that what they are watching is real. Not live per se because any time you have an edit its not live.

It’s as real as you’re going to get. I think anyone that hasn’t seen the old Ripley’s will appreciate it for what it is. Anyone that saw the old Ripley’s it’s everything that you liked but we’re adding a bit of soul to it.

1428 Elm: What is interesting is how science plays an integral part in this show. You have Rick Smith who is a magician that can slice an olive in half with a playing card and in another episode, there is a young girl, Lily Hevesh who creates masterpieces of art based on precision and placement of dominos. Completely riveting and amazing!

BC: Oh, sure! Physics are huge.

1428 Elm: As an executive producer, do you feel that your incarnation of Ripley’s could be used for educational purposes?

BC: That will be the takeaway. Going in, it was just about being respectful and telling real stories. Not so much to exploit these individuals like it’s a freak show. But, if people can learn from it, hell yeah! It’s great infotainment.