OCEAN CITY — A current television schedule carrying a variety of hidden-camera shows that skew toward the mean side proves there’s an audience for such fare, Peter Funt acknowledged Friday morning.
But, he said, the fact that the classic show his father created in 1947, “Candid Camera,” is returning to television in its latest incarnation later this year proves that there’s a larger audience for what he’s doing.
Funt, the grand marshal of today’s 29th annual Doo Dah Parade, appeared before a standing-room-only crowd at the Port O Call Hotel at 15th Street and the Boardwalk to promote the city’s yearly tribute to silliness and humor. (Incidentally, the crowd, consisting of a handful of media representatives, was standing only because it declined Funt’s invitation to be seated.)
“There may be an audience for mean, rough stuff,” Funt said. “Some of it makes me cringe, but it’s a free marketplace and people should be allowed to do it without censorship within reason. Our distinction on screen proves there’s a bigger audience for our stuff.”
Funt used the occasion to announce that, after a lengthy period in which he tried to get a new version of “Candid Camera” televised, a deal developed within 48 hours of his agreeing to be this year’s famous face at the Doo Dah Parade.
“For the past nine years, I’ve been trying to think of a way to get ‘Candid Camera’ back on the air,” he said. “Meanwhile, I get invited to the Doo Dah Parade in Ocean City, and within days, wouldn’t you know it? After all I tried, some cable channel is going to do a new ‘Candid Camera’ series.”
The show will begin airing in late summer on the TV Land channel, Funt said. It will have new graphics, a new version of its theme song and a new co-host. But its heart will remain the same, where the gags are good-natured and its victims are “genuinely overjoyed on our show,” Funt said, when they hear the iconic saying “Smile, you’re on ‘Candid Camera.’ ”
The line between funny and mean is a fine one, Funt said, one that he tries to stay on the right side of. “Some of our imitators haven’t quite figured this out,” he said.
“The derivative hidden-camera shows are mean-spirited, and out to prove people are stupid,” he said. “People can be made to look foolish, but they aren’t stupid. We celebrate humanity. We think people are heroic.”
Today’s The Doo Dah Parade will feature the usual assortment of musical acts, costumed walkers and the world’s largest assemblage of basset hounds. The event, which has grown to include 600 long-eared, low-to-the-ground dogs and their humans in the last 10 years, serves as a fund-raiser for the Tri-State Basset League, Doo Dah inventor Mark Soifer said.
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