It was a big deal last week at the Times Square Toys "R" Us when Howie Mandel unveiled the Deal or No Deal boutique, which offers five home editions of his popular NBC game show. As part of the partnership, Toys "R" Us is distributing game pieces that can be redeemed for either a "Deal" (10 percent off one item) or "No Deal" (a chance to win such prizes as a Nintendo Wii next-gen gaming system or even $1 million). When TVGuide.com stopped by the event, Mandel, upon spying the indoor Ferris wheel, invited us to go for a spin. Ha-ha. But no, he was serious. After choosing an appropriate vehicle a money-adorned Monopoly car it was up, up and away....
TVGuide.com: So, what are we here for today?
Mandel: To support Toys "R" Us' launch of the Deal or No Deal boutique. The fact that NBC has us on mega times throughout the week apparently is not enough for America. America is screaming for so much more, so now you can have me and the game in your home 24/7. There shouldn't be a minute without Deal or No Deal. [The Ferris wheel stops.] Are we stuck? Why are we stopping up here? Is everything OK?
TVGuide.com: I think I saw the cast of How I Met Your Mother sabotaging the ride.
Mandel: [Laughs] Yes. So anyway, there's an electronic game, a board game, a DVD-interactive game, a card game.... I also flew in to see how big-headed I am [on the two-story-high promotional signage]. I knew that success can make you big-headed, but I never dreamed...
TVGuide.com: At least it seemed like they photographed you on a good-skin day.
Mandel: I'd like to thank the lovely people at Photoshop for that.
TVGuide.com: What was your favorite board game growing up?
Mandel: I don't know if it's a board game, but it was Twister. But I didn't have a lot of friends, so I played it alone. It took me a couple of years to get the hang of it left hand red, right foot blue but I did, and I would play for hours. I never got twisted up because I was alone, but the good news is, I always won.
TVGuide.com: Let's talk about that guy from the season premiere of Deal or No Deal....
Mandel: Matty [Sollena], from New York! In the first week we set three records $675,000 for Matty, the next night the woman got $701,000, and that Friday [someone won] $750,000. But Matty, what a treasure.
TVGuide.com: It turned out he had $3 million in his unopened case!
Mandel: Yeah, but it was very funny because Matty was the consummate New York Teamster. Everything was "tree million," "twenty tree," "dese and dose".... The next day, I think I saw him on CNBC giving financial advice. Our show not only changes lives but changes people's worlds forever.
TVGuide.com: Is it true the Banker occasionally punches the wrong speed-dial and confuses the hell out of his grandmother in Terre Haute?
Mandel: You know, people always ask me if he's real and if I'm actually talking to him, and yes, I am actually talking to him, and he is real. And when I say [to the contestant], "He said... " I never make it up. He did say that. The thing I do curtail is that I probably give you about 60 percent of what he said. Most of what he says is not for prime-time ears.
TVGuide.com: You're serious.
Mandel: I'm absolutely serious. He is vile, he's mean, and he knows I will not repeat what he says to me.
TVGuide.com: NBC just announced that Bob Saget's game show, 1 vs. 100, is debuting Oct. 13. Any advice for Bob?
Mandel: My hopes are that he will share in the exact same success. I said no to this three times before I... well, before I listened to my wife. I like to say I made a good decision, but she made the decision for me, calling me an idiot and telling me to take the deal. I had no idea it would become this. I hope and pray that Bob has this success.
TVGuide.com: Both being stand-up comics, are you two buddies of a sort?
Mandel: We kind of started out at the same time, so yes, I've known him for a long time. He called me and asked me before he took the show what it was like dealing with these Endemol people [who produce Deal or No Deal]....
TVGuide.com: The "Endemolians"?
Mandel: The Endemolians, yeah. He didn't ask me for advice. He just said, "Are these good people?" And I put so much trust in them because I didn't see the "game" [in Deal or No Deal] at all. There are no stunts, there is no trivia and no skill, so in my mind there was no game. But I was wrong, and now it is so exciting. I'm not allowed to show my emotion, but I walk away devastated some nights and exhilarated others.
TVGuide.com: Are you on board yet for the new Comic Relief special?
Mandel: I don't know, they called just yesterday.
TVGuide.com: You were part of the original one, right?
Mandel: Yes, I was, so I would love to do it again. I think it's a wonderful cause and a great opportunity.
TVGuide.com: What does your stage act consist of these days?
Mandel: As opposed to Deal or No Deal, which is a family show, most of my act is not for the entire family... he says while on a Ferris wheel at Toys "R" Us. But really, don't bring the kids to my live show!
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