Those who can, do; those who can't, try out for TV talent contests; and those who really can't, well, they host TV talent contests. Just ask Craig J. Jackson, the master of ceremonies on Fox's frenetic freakfest 30 Seconds to Fame (returning tonight at 8 pm/ET). Surrounded by jugglers, contortionists, fire eaters and classically trained musicians, he's constantly reminded what few tricks he has up his sleeve.
"I give good hugs and I can do the running man backwards, but that's about it," Jackson tells TV Guide Online. "If I set myself on fire then I just might win! That's pretty much why I'm hosting the show, because I don't have any talent."
Truth be told, Jackson who began his career with Lisa Ling, Serena Altschul and Anderson Cooper on the teen-oriented Channel One News is a jack of one particular trade: hiding his real opinion of the third-rate comedians and ukulele players who grace 30 Seconds. Still, he's constantly amazed by the contestants' enthusiasm. "Even if they don't have talent, they give it 110 percent, because they think they do," he laughs. "No one told them that [their act] is wack."
After overseeing nearly a dozen shows, Jackson thinks he knows the secret to winning the $25,000 jackpot: Play against type. "If you're like a black dude, who's got on baggy jeans and cornrows and you get up and sing opera, they love it," he says. "Or, if you're a little white corny-looking dude with a Brooks Brothers suit on and you do reggae... and then set yourself on fire, that's even better."