- The Washington Times - Monday, July 30, 2007

NEW YORK

Drew Carey has been living a comfortable life of semi-retirement. In a couple of months, he could be Regis Philbin.

Mr. Carey was just selected as Bob Barker’s replacement on the daytime game show “The Price is Right,” and next week he will debut as the host of “Power of 10,” a prime-time game show for which CBS has high hopes.

A daytime hit and commanding presence in prime time — sounds just like Mr. Philbin in the “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” days. And that wouldn’t even count the endless reruns of “The Drew Carey Show” in syndication.

To hear Mr. Carey tell it, he’d be fine either way.

“I didn’t want to do TV in the first place,” he said over lunch recently. “I’d be happy going to soccer games, traveling. I never have to work again. I can live off my interest. I don’t even have to touch the principal.”

He still bears bruises from the messy end to his ABC sitcom. Viewers had tired of it, perhaps because syndication made it possible to see so much of Mr. Carey each day, and ABC paid little attention to the final season. Top executives from the network and production company didn’t even bother coming to the show’s wrap-up party.

Put-downs in the press hurt even more, particularly one magazine’s snarky remark that 200 episodes of “The Drew Carey Show” were 100 more than anyone wanted to see.

“A lot of people slammed me out of nowhere, and I’m just trying to entertain people and make a living,” said Mr. Carey, 49, Cleveland’s favorite son. “Everyone was taking potshots at me when my show was failing in the ratings … I thought, I don’t have to put up with that anymore.”

Mr. Carey had been doing occasional Web stories about common-sense approaches to solving problems for the libertarian Reason Foundation and a Travel Channel series following a soccer tournament in Europe. He takes out his IPhone to show some of his professional-quality pictures of soccer matches.

But when Michael Davies, former producer of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” called Mr. Carey this spring about “Power of 10,” he was intrigued.

The game, which debuts on CBS with 8 p.m. episodes on Aug. 7 and 8, tests contestants on how they think fellow Americans responded to questions on culture and politics. A winner can take home a cool $10 million.

“This is going to be huge, this show,” Mr. Carey said. “The material is so interesting. People talk about a show you can talk about the next day at work, around the water cooler. This is the show.”

The day after Mr. Carey shot a pilot episode of “Power of 10,”CBS approached him about replacing Mr. Barker.

He fits perfectly into the current mold of an ideal game-show host: the good-natured comedian.

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