Pat Sajak Teases ‘Celebrity Wheel of Fortune’s “Different Kind of Vibe”

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Pat Sajak is gearing up to host some very special guests on a new spin-off of his classic game show, Celebrity Wheel of FortuneThe longtime Wheel of Fortune star is taking his popular series to primetime and bringing co-host Vanna White with him, but adding some serious star power to the formula. Ahead of tonight’s premiere of Celebrity Wheel of Fortune, Sajak spoke to Entertainment Weekly about the new show, telling the outlet, “This seemed like the time to do it because of what’s going on in the world.”

Wheel of Fortune is kind of a sign of normalcy for people; they were very glad to have us back on the air,” Sajak told EW. “So this seemed like a good time to expand into prime time a little bit, at least one time, and extend that normalcy. And also, the networks frankly need programming. A lot of stuff can’t shoot the way [we] do, so the timing worked out. It was good for everybody.”

When Celebrity Wheel of Fortune premieres tonight, we’ll be seeing Supermarket Sweep‘s Leslie Jones, Grey’s Anatomy‘s Chandra Wilson, and pro skater Tony Hawk face off for their favorite charities, while upcoming episodes will feature celebs like Chrissy Metz, Drew Carey, Karamo Brown, Chris Harrison, Jennie Garth, and more.

And although the players are new, the format remains largely the same. “We’ve jazzed up the set a bit, made it look a little more prime-timey, whatever that means,” Sajak said. “And it’s going to be a different kind of vibe. We want [the contestants] to play a good, solid game, but we’re mainly there to have fun. It’ll be a little lighter in attitude.”

The new Wheel of Fortune series was produced during the coronavirus pandemic, but Sajak wants the show to be an escape for viewers, even if it’s only for an hour. While the host admitted it can be “mildly depressing” seeing “people running around in masks and hazmat outfits” backstage, he hopes to leave that atmosphere behind when the cameras start rolling.

“Our job is not to let that translate on the air,” he explained. “We try our best in the way we shoot the show and what we do here to make it as normal as possible, so that people can forget about it. We never talk about it, we just go about our business, and whatever our politicians are dictating, we do it. But we try not to let it spill over into the show.”

Celebrity Wheel of Fortune premieres Thursday, Jan. 7 at 8/7c on ABC.

Where to watch Celebrity Wheel of Fortune 

Where to watch Wheel of Fortune 

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