TORONTO - Don't expect to see just tabloid lovers and celebrity gossip hounds on the new pop culture-themed Canadian game show "Pop Quiz."
The half-hour series that premieres Monday on E! at 9 p.m. ET features "a real cross-section of Canada," say the on-air personalities.
"We get university students but we also get people who work in pharmaceutical sales," host Devon Soltendieck said in a recent interview from the show's Toronto studio.
"Stay-at-home moms, lawyers, teachers," added Emma Hunter, the show's judge. "All walks of life."
"Pop Quiz" airs weeknights and features a slick, circular tiered set with a vintage-style video camera in the middle, a giant screen displaying questions on the side, and a live studio audience.
Each episode begins with 10 contestants, who stand in the circle and wait as the vintage camera spins around and chooses which of them will answer a variety of questions related to pop culture of today and the past few decades.
The intensity increases as the questions get harder, the pace picks up and the contestants are whittled down over five rounds.
The last round is the Winner's Circle, in which the victor gets $5,000. Contestants can also win bonus prizes.
"When I was told the concept of the show, when Emma and I first started talking about it, we both were thinking, 'I can't believe this show has never been done before, that a show like this doesn't already exist,'" said Soltendieck, 28, a former Much VJ and CP24 reporter who now works for CTV's "eTalk."
"Pop culture is so pervasive in our lives now, whether it's online, whether it's on TV, in the movies, everyday conversations people are having, news organizations are following pop culture more than they ever have before and it literally is news when celebrities do things.
"So the idea that a show like this never happened is pretty crazy to me."
Soltendieck and Hunter, who were friends before shooting, say their show is unique because the contestants get to meet and interact with them in the studio while the audience at home can participate and converse about the various pop culture references.
"I get so invested in it," said Hunter, an actress/comedian/writer who determines which answers are right and provides colour commentary from a podium in the corner of the set.
"The last couple of winners I fully cried, because you're with them so you're rooting for them and you want them to win. Five-grand can change a person's life. It's a big chunk of change."
The studio audience members are equally invested and sometimes have a hard time containing their excitement when they know an answer, added Hunter, who can also be seen on The Comedy Network's "Match Game."
"We had the other day a 'WHAT?' (from the audience), like the person was so flabbergasted: 'WHAT?' And then we've had some like, 'OH, no.' They can't help themselves and I love it. I just crack up."
"We've had some dancing, we've had some crying, and a lot of the crying is ammo crying," said Soltendieck, who is also sentimental about being on the show.
"I've always wanted to be a part of a show like this," he continued. "I've always wanted to host a game show. It's been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. It's not the typical path a lot of people in television want to do.
"But I remember ... convincing my mom that I was sick so I could watch game shows in the morning."
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