Never heard of Tommy Maitland, the British comedian set to host ABC’s summer revival of “The Gong Show”? That’s because he isn’t real.
The new emcee, described by ABC exec Robert Mills as “along the lines of Benny Hill and Ricky Gervais,” actually is movie star and “Saturday Night Live” alum Mike Myers behind thick prosthetic makeup.
The character was unveiled Tuesday on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” where “Gong Show” executive producer Will Arnett was filling in for Kimmel, who is home with his new baby.
The smiley, genial, soft-spoken Maitland made a brief appearance on the couch, lobbing good-natured insults at Arnett: “I mean, doesn’t he look like a cross between George Hamilton and a Crest Whitestrip?”
He even brought a catchphrase, punctuating his punchlines with, “But it’s TRUE!”
A lengthy bogus bio of Maitland issued by ABC traces his career from announcer on radio’s “The Whosey Whats” to actor on the Canadian sitcom “He Wore a Dustman’s Hat” to host of the Australian game show “Dingo’s Got the Baby.”
Myers, formerly a Chicago performer at iO and Second City, has a history of taking on goofy looks in his movies, notably “The Cat in the Hat” and the Austin Powers series, which cast Myers as the snaggle-toothed hero as well as freaky villains Dr. Evil, Fat Bastard and Goldmember.
Ostensibly an “America’s Got Talent”-style competition for stars in the making, “The Gong Show” in its late ’70s heyday was better known for giving bizarre people a national television audience. Its creator and longest-running host, Chuck Barris, died in March.
The reboot premieres June 22 on WLS-Channel 7.