Radio and TV Talk

Rodney Ho covers TV and radio, from Atlanta’s stations to the hottest “American Idol" news.
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Former Georgian oversees CBS’s new “TKO: Total Knockout” competition show starring Kevin Hart

It’s like ‘Wipeout’ meets ‘American Ninja Warrior’

Originally posted Wednesday, July 11, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Gainesville native Holly Wofford was there in the early days of reality competition TV, including the true blue original “Survivor.” She has since been an executive producer on classics such as “Supernanny” and “American Ninja Warrior.”
Now she’s back on CBS for a show called “TKO: Total Knockout” that evokes the silliness of “Wipeout” with the athleticism of “American Ninja Warrior.” And the host is Kevin Hart. It debuts at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, July 11.

The title notwithstanding, the show has nothing to do with boxing. Five players take on an obstacle course. The four others try to slow them down by shooting various super colorful balls at them. Hart provides the commentary and jokes. Quickest through the gauntlet takes home $50,000. It’s that simple.

“I call it a comedy obstacle series,” said Wofford, a Gainesville High School graduate. “It’s not just about how fast you can run through the course but how effective you can be as a battle station defender. It’s a little like obstacle course meets dodgeball on steroids.”

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It’s almost impossible to go down the course without falling at some point. It’s about how quickly you can get up and persevere, she said. 

Contestants don’t necessarily have to be in Ninja Warrior shape. “We have teachers and police officers,” she said. “We have dad bods and mom bods. These are not professional athletes.”

Hart, she said, makes the show extra special and he has a live audience of 300 to play off of as well. “His brand of humor is integrated and really defines our show,” she said. [I have not been provided an advance screener to judge for myself.]

He gets pitched all sorts of shows and films so for him to say yes was a coup for the production company. “He knows at its heart it’s comedy and not only that, it’s family-friendly comedy,” Wofford said. 

In this world packed with so much negativity on the news channels, she added, “TKO is absolutely an opportunity to set that aside and put a smile on your face.” 

Wofford grew up wanting to work in TV. She begged her parents to check out movie and TV sets. She recalls checking out the town where “Fried Green Tomatoes” was shot. And she watched “In the Heat of the Night” and did some extra work on a couple of shows. 

After getting a degree at the University of Alabama, Wofford went to D.C. hoping to work for the National Geographic so she could shoot documentaries all over the world. But she had no inside track there. So she somehow nabbed a job as a transcriptionist for “America’s Most Wanted” despite not knowing how to transcribe. (She spent her first day pretending to work, then the night hours by herself actually trying to figure out how to do it.”)

Within six months, she was a producer there. Soon, she moved to L.A. and landed a producing job at this new show called “Survivor” which quickly became a cultural phenomenon.   

“I’ve had more fun in my job and career than I could have ever imagined,” she said. “I knew I had a passion for this.” I never knew I’d feel so fulfilled.” 

TV PREVIEW

“TKO: Total Knockout,” debuting at 9 p.m. Wednesday, July 11, 2018 on CBS

About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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