Harvey Levin-hosted OBJECTified has its season premiere on Fox News Channel July 1, with Levin, creator of TMZ, interviewing a lineup of big names, and having them showcase various objects in their lives that help tell their stories. Magic Johnson sits for the premiere. Also being interviewed this season are Dr. Phil McGraw, Kris Jenner, Dana White, Alex Trebek, Pitbull and Willie Nelson, among others.
Levin spoke with considerable ebullience about OBJECTified. “There have been few things in my life that I enjoy more than this show,” he said.
Magic Johnson of course starred for the Los Angeles Lakers, was diagnosed with HIV in 1991, and has had a very successful business career after basketball as chairman and CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises, which co-owns the Los Angeles Dodgers, along with many other things. “Magic has evolved more than just about anybody I’ve seen do the show,” said Levin, mentioning Johnson’s “incredible commitment” to people suffering from AIDS and those in the inner city.
One of the objects Johnson shows off is a gold medal he won in Barcelona, at the 1992 Olympics as part of the so-called Dream Team. At the time, “he was banished in a lot of ways,” said Levin. “A lot of people wouldn’t play with him.”
Levin dishes on about most all the guests in the new season. Of Jenner, he said, “When did she learn to be a business person?” Of Alex Trebek, “There’s so much about him you just don’t know.” Speaking of a certain Aerosmith singer, he said, “I don’t know how Steven Tyler is alive today, with the things he’s done.” And of Pamela Anderson, Levin said, “A very involved, knowledgeable person when it comes to social issues,” and a close friend of Julian Assange’s.
Exec producers on OBJECTified are Levin, Ryan Regan and John Finley, Fox News senior VP of development and production. The show’s first season averaged close to 1.2 million total viewers, said Fox News, and 226,000 in the 25-54 demo.
The summer has seen a number of Hollywood stars lash out at Fox News, including Steve Levitan and Seth MacFarlane. With Levin well immersed in the Hollywood life, I asked if there was any issue with broadcasting on Fox News. He said there is not. “We’re not a political show at all, we stay away from it,” he said. “This is not a show that leans left or leans right.”
Having said that, Levin did mention a politician as his dream guest, though not one you’d expect to see on Fox News. Justin Trudeau, charismatic prime minister of Canada, is of course the son of a former prime minister, and has dabbled in boxing. “He’s had such an interesting life,” said Levin.
The show came to be, Levin said, when he was in a pitch meeting. He got a call from an L.A. realtor, telling him that he might be listing Steven Spielberg’s home. “You walk through it, and you see his whole life there,” is how the realtor put it, according to Levin.
And so a talk show, with physical objects of note to further illuminate the guests’ lives, was hatched.
Levin said OBJECTified gives him the opportunity to sit with people he looks up to. “A lot of people I get to talk to,” he said, “are people I’ve admired for so long.”