Jeff Apploff

Format creator and producer Jeff Apploff is bringing “million-dollar music night” to FOX with two game shows—Don’t Forget the Lyrics! and Beat Shazam—owning the 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. hours on the U.S. broadcast network starting tonight, May 23. His hit format Don’t Forget the Lyrics! makes a return after years off-air, with a fresh new reboot featuring Niecy Nash as the host. His hit Beat Shazam will follow in its fifth season. Apploff talks to TV Formats about what viewers and buyers are looking for these days and why now is the perfect time for musical game shows.

***Image***TV FORMATS: With two of your formats anchoring FOX’s Monday prime time, what does that tell you about what viewers are looking for these days in their entertainment?
APPLOFF: I think viewers crave seeing real people win big money, and, of course, everyone loves music. When you have a fun, relatable game that is music-centric—one in which everyone can play along—it makes it very compelling to tune in.

TV FORMATS: Tell me about the return of Don’t Forget the Lyrics! Why was now the perfect time for this show to make a comeback?
APPLOFF: Originally, Don’t Forget the Lyrics! had a great run, having been sold in multiple countries across the world. It is going into its 11th season in France and still garners remarkable ratings. We waited a long time to relaunch it, and since the pandemic made it even harder to launch original formats for plenty of reasons, we thought now would be the time to strike again with Don’t Forget the Lyrics! Rob Wade at FOX loves musical game shows, and he immediately was sold. It’s an enjoyable and relatable game that has comedy, drama, huge stakes and incredible music. Plus, Niecy Nash is an amazing host.

TV FORMATS: How does this U.S. version for FOX differ from some of the other international adaptations?
APPLOFF: Some countries have two contestants playing against each other with the winner returning the following week; however, we decided to revive the original format: One player, ten songs, $1 million. With the exception of a couple of minor tweaks to the backups (which we call “lifelines”) and the money ladder, the format is identical to the original. We do offer a larger grand prize than most of the other territories.

TV FORMATS: What does Niecy Nash bring to the series as the host?
APPLOFF: Niecy is perfect for the show. She loves music; in fact, she recently married a professional musician, Jessica Betts, who is also part of the Don’t Forget the Lyrics! live band. Niecy is funny, understands drama and adores the game. She also appreciates and gets a kick out of giving big money to people from all walks of life.

TV FORMATS: Beat Shazam is coming back for a fifth season. What is it about that show that has resonated so well with audiences?
APPLOFF: There are so many things about Beat Shazam that warranted its return, but the main reason—and its ultimate draw—is its host Jamie Foxx, one of the most talented human beings on the planet. I’ve never met anyone with so many incredible skills up their sleeve. He sings, he dances, he does spot-on impressions, and he’s a brilliant stand-up comedian and a classically trained musician! And, Corinne provides another layer of talent and lovability. I can’t think of another father-daughter duo that has such a special chemistry and connection. Add those elements, plus a game that has strong characters, terrific story beats and a finale that pits man vs. machine for a huge prize—you have something remarkably extraordinary.

TV FORMATS: What are some of the ways you’re keeping that show fresh, five seasons in?
APPLOFF: Every season, we make tweaks to the format to keep it fresh and exciting. But this year, we were feeling happy about where we are, so we decided not to make any significant changes. We implemented some adjustments to the set and to our in-show graphics. We also worked especially hard this year to find contestants who not only know their music but also have interesting stories to tell about themselves and really need the money.

TV FORMATS: As a format creator, what are you seeing that buyers are after these days?
APPLOFF: Buyers want big, fun, relatable, interactive formats—and ones that are as inexpensive to make as possible. The reality is that price and defined budgets are crucial. And, you must always have a story to tell.

TV FORMATS: What advice would you give to a format creator or producer looking to land a show on a big U.S. network?
APPLOFF: Make sure your format is fully fleshed out and do as many run-throughs as possible. Also, understand the WHY of your format: Why does this format have a place in the market? Why will viewers want to watch? You should punch holes into everything and continually make your format bulletproof. Most importantly, keep it simple. Complicated doesn’t work and doesn’t sell.