Jamie Foxx like you’ve never seen him before. Raw and unfiltered. From stories behind the scenes stories of his latest project “Beat Shazam”, to advice from his adopted Grandmother, all the way down to his love for playing classical music. In conversation with Michael Strahan at 92 Y, the Oscar winning actor kicked off the night with a bang:
Where the idea of this show come along for this show:
We just got done working on Robin Hood, we were working on Robin Hood for 6 months in Budapest. And you just look at your life and go wow it’s really good, you know it could be so different so you just always have to keep that smile on your face and just be like man it could be so different. I think about what my grandmother did, they picked cotton, my grandfather would wake up 5 in the morning go mow someone’s lawn so when I’m doing what I’m doing and they’re talking about do you want the Avion or Vox. I don’t care if it’s tap water I just want to go and enjoy what I’m doing so every time I go I just think it’s another opportunity to do something great.
On the show’s fun layout:
I’ve been trying to get back to t.v for three years with this show, I was jealous Kevin Hart had his show on t.v, JLO has a show on t.v-I’m jealous, The Rock has a show on t.v-I’m jealous, everybody has a show. This show is perfect for me because it’s music and it’s giving out money and that’s always a cool thing. I remember name that tune so that is a key element in the DNA so when they added the Shazam part it really made it dope. So Mark Burnett who did Survivor and The Voice and a young man named Jeff Appleoff he beat Shazam first and then got with Mark and then we all got together and thought how can we make this show like none other and still make it fun. Then we all got together and we were like how can we make this show like non other where we have great contestants but at the same time I’m hosting and getting great people to stop by? So once Fox O.K’d it, then it was trying to master the game show. Now I’ve done movies but doing a game show is tough. So I really had to buckle down and learn the format, and learn that it’s three teams that are going to battle against each other to see who’s the fastest and recognize the hot hit songs, and they can get five songs or six songs in a row.
His best and funniest moments on set of Beat Shazam:
“Once we got the contestants on, the show really lit up. Because these are regular everyday people from regular everyday America. Not how we’re [Michael Strahan and himself] used to large sums of money. These are people who if you think about it, before I made it I was like how can a rustle up $200, how can I rustle up $100, I got to get my car fixed. I remember I went to Pepboys and be like ‘yo let me get’ and then I’d put it in or say ‘give me the one that somebody used’ so then I just remember I smelled like gas my whole life. So it was those types of people but what we found out when we ended up doing it as that no one played for themselves. A lady said ‘I’m playing because my mom lost her house in a fire’ then one guy said ‘Listen I need medical benefits, and my friend doesn’t have medical insurance so I’m playing for that.’ And then what was a reoccurring thing was student loans, probably 10 of the people in the game needed to pay off student loans, which is letting me know we have a definite problem with that.”
“So what happened was, she’s on the show. The guy and the kid are playing for a quarter of a million dollars and they win. The kid says I can pay off my student loans the father starts crying and says I can now put my three little girls through college and we didn’t anticipate that and I started tearing up. So that happened and another lady was playing for $346,0000 she said ‘I never seen this kind of money before I can pay for my mom’s stuff if I get it.” And she’s from New York. So she goes for it and she wins and, and her husband who’s a tough guy starts crying, runs out, picks her up and said I can not believe you just changed our life. And then the last story is when someone won the million dollars and that was a little different because it was a young couple and she had been saying ‘yo I really want him to marry me’, I’m playing because I want a ring. And I’m like ‘you don’t want to marry her’’ and he was like ‘Nah Jay come on’ so even at commercial I was like ‘’be cool because if you want to you can ask her because you never know what will happen if you win the big money plus she’s answering all the questions, I suggest you put that ring on her finger before she becomes a millionaire. She goes for the million and I’m like ‘do you realize in 5 seconds you could be in another tax bracket’ She goes for the money and wins, we go crazy, he’s crying and immediately the money changed them because I was like ‘you still want to get married?’ and she was like ‘I mean we’ll get there,’ it was an earth shattering moment that you didn’t anticipate.
The entertaining contestants:
“It’s so much fun I learned not to judge a book by it’s cover. I seen a brother and the hip hop category came up and I was like ‘get that money dog!’ he didn’t get any of it. I was like ‘Nelly! you know who that is? He didn’t know, he only knew all country western. I said how do you know country western he said ‘man when I was a kid in the 5th grade our bus driver used to listen to country music I said damn all right cool. Then there was an elderly white lady in South Carolina and she started dabbing. 63 years old dabbing! She won the hip hop and R& B category. So I’m learning not to judge anybody because everyone how they got music is amazing.”
On Special Guests:
I do a thing on the piano in the show. I get on the piano in the show and sometimes I sing a song and I tell the audience ‘this is a magic piano’, because sometimes when I sing an artist might come out. So one time when I was singing ‘beautiful, I just want you to know you’re my favorite girl.’ I’m singing that but then they surprised me because that’s actually a Snoop song all of a sudden it’s smoke bellowing behind me and Snoop comes out and the place goes up in flames. But Snoop came out and everyone went crazy but they tricked me because instead of pop, hip-hop they had Snoop’s playlist so now the contestants have to guess and identify Snoop’s playlist but Snoop threw a boomerang to them because his first song was “Devil Goes Down to Georgia” and everyone was thinking it was going to be hip-hop. So that was fun, and then Terrance Howard came out and his playlist was like “Frozen” or something and he actually sung it, so it was crazy to see Lucius doing that. But the most spectacular moment was that I called Mariah Carey personally and I said ‘Mariah this show really needs your touch because when we talk about Iconic music you are the one’ She said ‘Jamie do you want me to sing’ I said listen I don’t want you do to anything because she was really burned by social media, and you know I don’t dig that part of social media where everyone’s ‘na na na’ because you know this is a lady who puts so much work in all these years she’s given us iconic songs I said ‘guarantee I’m going to protect you I don’t want you to sing one note. But there are some fans here he would literally be over the moon if you walked out.’ And I talked to Fox and set it up. So I was joking during that show and said ‘give it up for Justin Timberlake’ so people thought I was joking during the show when I said ‘ladies and gentlemen Mariah Carey’ and she walks out an the place went nuts and the two contestants who love Mariah Carey started crying, and she hug them and sat on the piano. But that really put the show somewhere special.
His Favorite Game Show Growing up:
Hollywood Squares was amazing and 20,000 Dollar Pyramid. But all of those Game Shows, there were some of the greatest comedians and people on those game shows.
His Grandmother Getting Him Involved in Classical Piano:
It was crazy because I was adopted, my Grandmother adopted me at 7 months and my adopted Brother played the piano and I’m like 5 and he’s like 15. And girls would just go crazy so I’m like ‘hey I’m doing that’ and my Grandma was like you need to learn classic piano though and I asked her why and she said it’s because it would take me across the tracks. And when she said that I thought it meant because in our town the railroad tracks separated the black side from the white side. So I said ‘you mean I’m going to be able to go across the white side of the tracks’ she said ‘no it’s a metaphor you going to need them to take your music all around the world. So I’m going to get someone to teach you classical piano.’