Tracy Morgan and Scott Hallock talk Scare Tactics
Tracy Morgan is a busy man. Along with his role on the NBC comedy 30 Rock, now entering its third season, Tracy is also taking on the reigns of host of the SciFi Channel program Scare Tactics, also in its third season. Premiering on July 9th, Scare Tactics is a hidden-camera, reality-comedy hybrid that allows friends and loved ones to set up unsuspecting victims into a series of horror hoaxes that are staged with movie-style special effects and makeup.
Earlier this week, Tracy, who is the third host of the program after Shannen Doherty and Stephen Baldwin hosted the first two seasons, joined Tactics' Executive Producer Scott Hallock on a conference call to talk about this upcoming season.
How did Tracy get involved with the series?: Tracy has been a fan of Scare Tactics since the show began. He sites his favorite episode of the series as one involving a wood chipper because it was one of the most honest reactions someone would have to that particular horror. Tracy said that once the reveal was made to the victim it was like watching him breathe in a gulp of fresh air.
Tracy was excited when the producers of Scare Tactics asked him to host the show ... it allowed him to do his own rendition of Rod Sterling. As host, Tracy gets to watch others be pranked rather than having others prank on him. And, because the victims don't see the pranks coming it makes Tactics funny.
How did the show's premise come about?: According to Scott Hallock, Scare Tactics came about while he was working on the NBC hidden-camera series Spy TV. The concept they came up with was similar to Spy, but infused with horror. As Hallock put it, he wanted to have a show that featured four mini-horror movie segments, complete with special effects and makeup.
Why mix horror and comedy?: Comedy and horror are really close, said Hallock, which made them a perfect match for the show. The program doesn't go for the meanness factor when it comes to pranking the victims. When things are getting a bit too serious the reveal is made to lighten things up a bit.
How do they maximize safety on the show so no one really gets hurt?: "We take safety really seriously on our sets," said Hallock. "When the bit is at its height is when we do the reveal." The Tactics' producer added that they sweep the area for anything that could be used as a weapon prior to the beginning of the prank. If it looks like the victim is ready to fight, then the reveal is made immediately.
Has anyone not signed the release form to air their segment?: It is very rare that someone decides not to sign the waiver, said Hallock. This season everyone signed the release notices. The only time that someone didn't sign a release notice was when they were running for office and feared that airing their segment on the show would hurt his chances in the polls.
What makes a good victim: According to Hallock, a good victim is one who is expressive, who will react, get involved in the story and say what is on their mind. Also entertaining are those who take the leadership roles during these scary moments. As an example of a good victim, Hallock mentioned the victim from the this season's premiere of Scare Tactics. "It was the greatest reaction I have ever seen," said the show's producer.
The crew for Scare Tactics: Hallock mentioned that Scare Tactics has one of the larger staffs for a reality-based program. More than 60 people. This doesn't include the makeup and special effects personnel that are hired for many of the segments. The amount of people are integral in making Scare Tactics the big, cinematic show it is, said Hallock.
Have there been any complicated bits or bits that haven't gotten on the air?: Hallock said the most complicated bit was the season three premiere "Satan's Baby." That's because you needed the victim to believe that someone was giving birth to a 28-inch spawn of Satan. Hallock and his team have been very lucky that they have had little resistance to their ideas for the show. If anything, ideas have been pulled back if Hallock and his team didn't think they would work out. Despite that luck, the show is still a bit of a hassle for the network's legal department. Said Hallock, "The legal department...that's another story. This is a very scary show for lawyers."
Do family members ever contribute to prank ideas?: The writers will pass ideas to the family and friends to see if it will work for the victim. They will also take suggestions from friends and family as well. However, they won't take an idea that will be harmful to the victim. In the example Hallock gave, if the victim is deathly afraid of spiders, they will not put him or her in a room full of them.
Last but not least...
What should Tracy's prank be if he was a victim on Scare Tactics: The IRS coming to his house to collect taxes.