Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Double Dare's Marc Summers Reflects on His Career

Marc Summers became a household name in the late ‘80s on Nickelodeon’s ooey, gooey game show for kids, Double Dare. But the charismatic host who beamed on camera as the network’s signature “slime” slid down his suit would rush to remove his clothes as soon as the broadcast ended. Summers, now 66, was suffering from crippling Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, a condition he hadn’t even heard of until he was diagnosed live on his own Lifetime talk show in 1995.

Marc Summers. Brandon Riley Miller

Going public put his career on hold — until the Food Network took a chance on him in 2001, tapping him to host its longest running program to date, Unwrapped.

“Most people weren’t aware what OCD was back in the late ‘90s,” he tells PEOPLE. “I was supposed to be hosting Hollywood Squares and then lost the job because people didn’t understand what Obsessive Compulsive Disorder was, and they were spreading rumors that I was difficult to work with and uncooperative, none of which was true. But people were not given the tools to learn what it was.”

Marc Summers hosting Double DareCourtesy of Marc Summers

He made it his mission to raise awareness and points to Howie Mandel, the Deal or No Deal host who’s open about his own OCD and germaphobia today: “I think in many ways, I was a pioneer.”

Still, Summers says compulsions — he’d clean his home incessantly, lie on the living room floor straightening the fringe of a rug and get stuck at the grocery store reading the label of every product lining the aisles — gave him focus and drive.

“I’ve had kind of a charmed existence,” he says.

Summers also worked as a magician, comedian (he rubbed elbows with Robin Williams at LA’s famed Comedy Store in the ‘70s) and TV producer (Ryan Seacrest and Guy Fieri consider him a mentor). But as he says in the new documentary about his life, On Your Marc, “I’ve always thought of myself of being a player on AAA baseball and never quite making the big leagues.”

As Fieri — who affectionately calls him “Obi Wan” — put it, ““The life of Marc Summers, well, it should be a ride at an amusement park, because it’s got every twist and turn you can imagine.”

On Your Marc. Courtesy of Marc Summers.

Growing up in Indiana, Summers says he “always wanted to do theater and got side-tracked along the way.” Two harrowing ordeals prompted him to pursue that passion. In 2009, he felt pain in his stomach and underwent a surgery that removed 17.5 inches of his small intestine.

“I woke up and, being a stand-up comic, I sort of joked with the doctor, ‘Do I have cancer?’ And he says, ‘As a matter of fact, you do,’” Summers recalls. He was misdiagnosed with mantle cell lymphoma and told he had six months to live. Another oncologist determined the father of two was actually battling chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and he began two years of grueling chemotherapy with his wife of 43 years, Alice — a Natalie Wood lookalike whom he met while working as an usher at The Mary Tyler Moore Show — by his side.

He’s now in remission, but for the four months until he was correctly diagnosed, the conflicting medical opinions made Summers and his family — wife Alice, 65, son Matthew, 37, and daughter, Meredith, 34 — think he was dying.

“The whole story about your life flashes in front of you. I called Alice from the cab, and I said, ‘I’m not going to see the kids get married. I’m not going to see our grandchildren. I’m going to be dead,’” he says. “I was a mess. I was confused. I didn’t know what the hell was going on.”

Then, in 2012, he broke every bone in his face when his taxi hydroplaned, crashing into a Philadelphia highway divider. He didn’t leave his house for months and suffered memory loss: He remembers giving a tourist wrong directions to Independence Hall, a landmark in the city he calls home, and reintroducing himself in a meeting to a TV executive he’d known for 20 years.

“My biggest fear was the fact that when I went to host another show, would I be able to retain, memory-wise?” he says.

Marc Summers. Courtesy of Marc Summers

It took nine months to a year for Summers to fully recover. “It was really frightening,” he says, and forced him to realize, “there’s no time like the present.”

Working his Broadway connections, Summers developed an autobiographical one-man play back in Indiana; the documentary chronicles its development, a chapter in Summers’ career that is both a reinvention and return to his roots.

Soon, he’s executive-producing a new Food Network program with Fieri. And after three years of cognitive therapy, Summers says his OCD is “80 percent cured,” adding, “It’s like retraining your mind not to have the intrusive thoughts and not to do the repetitive actions.”

As for all that slime? Nickelodeon’s top-secret, original recipe isn’t so gross, after all: vanilla pudding, apple sauce and green food dye.

“The insurance company made us guarantee if any of this got in the kids’ mouths it was edible,” he explains with a laugh. “And it tasted good, and it smelled great.”

Click here to find out more about On Your Marc.
Also, from the Baltimore Sun:

Nickelodeon personality Marc Summers to talk about his slime-filled career in Baltimore

The slime so many of us laughed at as kids was made from vanilla pudding, applesauce and green food coloring. And if getting doused with that stuff sounds like fun — well, Marc Summers, who was taping up to six episodes of Nickelodeon’s “Double Dare” a day back in its prime, offers a cautionary note.

“If it was in the morning, the pudding generally was in the refrigerator, and it was cold,” says Summers, who would himself get slimed “a couple times a week,” by his own estimation. “As the day went on, if you got slimed, it was a little more tolerable, because it was room temperature. But in the morning, nothing was more shocking that cold goo going down your face and the back of your neck.”

But such was the price of fame for Summers, who rode his hosting gig on that late-’80s, early-’90s kids’ game show to a long career on Nickelodeon, the Food Network and other cable channels. Along the way, he’s been an unwitting foil for a disgruntled Burt Reynolds on “The Tonight Show”; an advocate for those suffering from obessive-compulsive disorder (after he went public with the condition in the mid-’90s); a cancer survivor and, most recently, the star of a staged retrospective of his life. “Everything In Its Place: The Life & Slimes of Marc Summers.”

Saturday, he’ll be at Owings Mills’ Gordon Center for Performing Arts for a screening of a new documentary on his life and career, “On Your Marc.” The film, directed by Mathew Klickstein, will be followed by a Q&A hosted by Summers’ friend and fellow game-show stalwart, Pat Sajak.

“I’ve had an interesting career that’s kind of gone over many different generations and a lot of different folks,” Summers, 65, says over the phone from Philadelphia, where he was promoting a recent showing of the film. “It’s kind of fascinating to me that people really care, or have any interest in listening.”

That they do. And while he gets a lot of questions about his time on the Food Network — he was host of one of the channel’s signature series, “Unwrapped,” — it’s still his stint on “Double Dare” that elicits the warmest reaction from his fans, Summers says.

“I was 33 at that point,” Summers says of his 1986 start on the Nickelodeon game show, which offered teams of kids prizes if they answered questions correctly or successfully completed stunts that often involved getting messy in the extreme. Before “Double Dare,” “I was doing warm-ups on a million television shows [joking with live audiences before taping] and making a fine living, but was very frustrated with my career, because I wanted to do more.”

After he was chosen from about 2,000 applicants for the job, both the show and Summers took off. “We were giving kids money, we were giving them prizes, we were letting them get messy. Everything they were told not to do by their parents, they were allowed to do on our show, and be rewarded for it.”

“On Your Marc,” which centers on Summers’ preparation for performing the stage show based on his life, includes plenty of ruminations on “Double Dare,” plus testimonials from a handful of famous names, several of whom invoke those halcyon, slime-filled days of yore.

Says actor Neil Patrick Harris, “’Double Dare’ was awesome.’”

Summers, who was born Marc Berkowitz in Indianapolis and got an early taste of the entertainment biz working as a DJ while attending junior college in Boston, says he never tires of hearing from fans who grew up on the show.

“It was part of a lot of people’s childhood,” he says. “It’s very cool. People come up to me and go, ‘I know you probably don’t want to hear this, but...’ and I say, ‘No, I do want to hear. It’s fantastic that you actually remember.’ ”

And “Double Dare” isn’t all they remember, he says. A surprising number still ask about a 1994 appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” Leno’s first guest was Reynolds, who was there to promote his book, “My Life,” and had been needled repeatedly by the host about his recent, and contentious, divorce from actor Loni Anderson. Reynolds had grown noticeably annoyed, and when Summers came out, things turned chaotic.

Barbs flew. Water was thrown. Tempers flared. “We just didn’t get along,” Summers says. “And he drops water in my crotch, and then I spray him with water. And next thing I know, they’re bringing out pies.”

The segment ended with Reynolds and Summers, both smeared with shaving cream from the pies, hugging awkwardly. Reynolds signed a copy of the book to Summers and his wife (it remains in storage, Summers says, unread), and the segment — available on YouTube, where it’s been viewed more than 108,000 times in the past three years — became a thing of legend.

“It was totally spontaneous,” Summers assures the skeptical, adding with a laugh, “I’m not that good an actor.”



Also, from Austin360:

Marc Summers from ‘Double Dare’ slimed some people at the Alamo Drafthouse

Every ‘90s kid knows Marc Summers. Even if you don’t know his name, you’d recognize him anywhere -- he’s the host of the Nickelodeon hit show “Double Dare,” which, if you’re not familiar, features a lot of slime, sundaes, a giant nose-picking game (why didn’t anyone think this was weird back then?) and a bunch of other gross-but-fun stuff you probably loved as a kid.

On the heels of his new documentary, “On Your Marc,” Summers went to Alamo Drafthouse Cinema locations around the country to screen the documentary and, of course, slime some folks (including some audience members at Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar last week).

Physical. Challenge. This is not a drill.

A post shared by Tanya🐢 (@tanyatello) on

Oh yeah, I won a #DoubleDare physical challenge!

A post shared by Jerrod Kingery (@jerrodkingery) on

OK, now watch this video of the cast of ‘All That’ playing some ‘Double Dare’ games and let your ‘90s dreams come true:



A post shared by Marc Summers (@therealmarcsummers) on

Watch all your '90s Nickelodeon favorites on NickSplat, your late-night destination for your favorite childhood Nickelodeon cartoons and live-action shows! NickSplat doesn't question football-shaped heads, but embrace them - along with Reptar bars, a Big Ear of Corn, orange soda, and even slime for Pete (and Pete's) sake. Make your slime-covered Nickelodeon childhood dreams come true every night, only on TeenNick USA! #NickSplat!

More Nick: How Slime Came To Rule the World: The Making And Tasting Of Nickelodeon's Green Goo!

Additional source: Fox News.
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