Leslie Jones loved the ’90s version of “Supermarket Sweep,” a game show that featured competitors streamlining shopping carts in a mad race for groceries and, ultimately, cash prizes.
So the five-season veteran of “Saturday Night Live” is living his dream, producing and hosting the colorful, action-packed ABC remake, which premieres Sunday (8 EDT / PDT).
“I loved the whole game. And I was on a mission to win that $ 5,000 (grand prize). At the time, $ 5,000 was a lot of money. Now I didn’t know the taxes involved and I probably would have walked away with, like, $ 16.62, but I still wanted to earn that money, ”Jones says. “It was just such an exciting show.”
The latest version of a format introduced on ABC in 1965 is priced higher up to $ 100,000 as Jones teases and then quizzes three duos about their shopping knowledge before grabbing as much high-priced food as possible in a supermarket built in an airport hangar. Testing of health and safety protocols, masks and social distancing were tracked during production last summer during the pandemic.
“I tried to make it look like a normal supermarket, like maybe a Ralphs and a Whole Foods mixed together. So ordinary people can go there, but candle people will also go, ”Jones says.
The comedian, 53, who starred in “Ghostbusters” in 2016 and will be seen in “Coming 2 America”, spoke to USA TODAY about the grocery store; pandemic advice for the president and quit “SNL”.
Is “Sweep” a fantasy, especially in the pandemic, since there are no masks and people can run around without social distancing?
Leslie Jones:Yeah, but isn’t TV supposed to be fantasy? Its to escape to have joy. “Hey, you guys, let’s probably get back to normal, but let’s escape for an hour and watch some crazy people run around the store and make real money and change their lives and watch me laugh at them.”
Fans love it when you tweet the Olympics live. Do you plan to tweet “Sweep” live?
Jones: I hadn’t planned on tweeting “ Supermarket Sweep ” live, but it’s not a bad idea to maybe tweet live the first hour. I’ll do this for you, Bill.
After instituting strict health and safety protocols on the set of “Sweep,” do you have any advice for the White House as it is a hot spot for COVID-19 infections?
Jones: Oh, baby. Do we have an hour? The compliance nurse who was on our set the day I arrived gave us this great security (discussion). After explaining everything, I was a little crazy, because if this lady was on TV, we would have survived the pandemic. It was so easy to wash your hands, to stay six feet away, to wear your mask.
I hope I don’t get in trouble, but here’s what I’ll say: Trump could have come out on the right side. The only thing he had to do was be that person who said, “Hey, guys, let’s wear our masks.” He could have done all the other crazy things and be a hero. People would have said, “Dang, you know what? This man is watching over us. He’s our president. And he’s letting us know it’s in place.”
How has the pandemic affected stand-up comedy?
Jones: When September 11 happened and people couldn’t fly, it devastated the comedians. We couldn’t go to concerts anymore. It’s even worse. What is comedy other than a small room with a pile of people crammed together, breathing the same air? A lot of comedians are suffering right now. It’s hard not to be able to get out, but many (of them) are finding ways to get there. They have shows outside. You have clubs that do like 10 people in the (room) for social distancing. People do shows online. You find a way to adjust. But it is difficult.
This is your second season away from “SNL”. Do you miss it?
Jones:No I do not. I am really sorry. I know it would be terrible for me to say it like that. Of course, I learned a lot at “SNL”. I love what I learned there, but I was 47 years old. This is a difficult work. It’s very restrictive. Now I’m free and you can really see Leslie. You can see what Leslie can do. What I learned there is great, but I don’t miss the hundred hours a week. I don’t miss those cold nights. I don’t miss it. However, I miss Kenan (Thompson). I miss Kenan so much.
Leaving has probably put a strain on your relationship with Kyle Mooney. (They had an intense but fictional relationship on “SNL”.)
Jones: Yes, my poor Kyle. Either way, he’s still awkward. What’s so strange is (until) the last season, I didn’t know he had something with Anita Baker. Our whole relationship changed when he told me he loved Anita Baker. We were inseparable after that.
Do you go to the supermarket these days?
Jones: Since I got back to LA, yes. Because I love Ralphs. This is where I’m going. The ready meals section. But there’s another one here in LA called Erewhon. It’s like a bun type place. But I really like the hot food section.
Is grocery shopping a different experience during the pandemic?
Jones: It’s because everyone is walking around with this mask on. But for me it’s cool, because no one knows me. I have a hat and a mask so I can just do the grocery shopping.
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