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'Mobbed' host Howie Mandel talks about his 'annoying' feud with Piers Morgan

March 31, 2011 |  2:33 pm

Howiemandel You know Howie Mandel from "America's Got Talent," but now the comic and host is bringing his love of the spontaneous to "Mobbed," a one-hour special airing Thursday night on Fox after "American Idol." The program, based on the "flash-mob" phenomenon in which large groups of people gather in public spaces to put on impromptu choreographed shows, follows a couple whose rocky romance culminates in a flash-mob takeover of the Americana at Brand mall in Glendale.

Show Tracker recently caught up with Mandel to ask about the new show and his crazy feud with Piers Morgan. Excerpts:

Show Tracker: Howie! Why a show about flash mobs?

Mandel: Flash mobs have been around for years now. For years, they've been pitched to the networks. Because of all these viral videos, people thought, well, they should garner an audience. But ultimately a flash mob is just two minutes of singing and dancing. We get that on "Glee" and we get in musicals. We can watch it online. Why is it a TV show? I think "Mobbed" is a TV show because what TV is is a story. And everybody's got a story. Now focus it all on one person, for one purpose. It's television without a net.

Show Tracker: Having a thousand dancers show up when your boyfriend proposes is kind of like a dream. Or maybe a nightmare?

Mandel: That's what we wanted to do! We wanted bigger than anything you've ever seen. We wanted to not be real. We wanna bowl people over.

Show Tracker: No retakes here.

Mandel: No. The reason I love doing stand-up comedy is because it's in the moment. If something doesn't work, there's some entertainment value in that. It becomes a fun moment. I wanted to bring that to this show.

Show Tracker: How much money did you blow on all this?

Mandel: A lot. I don't want to talk money, but we spent a lot.

Show Tracker: This is being broadcast as a special. Will there be more?

Mandel: I don't know. I would hope. I guess we'll see how it does.

Show Tracker: It's for Fox. Aren't you a wholly owned subsidiary of NBC?

Mandel: Not wholly owned. I have a production company and we work for a lot of different networks.

Show Tracker: How's "America's Got Talent"?

Mandel: It's one of the cushiest jobs I've ever had in my life. I love it.

Show Tracker: What about fellow judge and new CNN host Piers Morgan, who has called you "always annoying"?

Mandel: For no reason at all! So I said, "You call me these names and belittle me, so I'm going to give you a reason for that." So I've made it a mission backstage to be the most annoying person. If you're going to give me that title, I might as well earn it. You think it's funny to call me irritating? I came there, I showed up, I did my job, I was my professional. What is irritating? You want to see irritating, I will show you irritating.

Show Tracker: We'd love to see you pull pranks on Piers! 

Mandel: I've been driving him up a wall. I'm sure a lot of it they can't show. He's really angry. He was interviewing [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu in Israel, then flew to London and did something for CNN, and then flew to New York and did a show, then he flew to L.A. to do us. He was so jet-lagged. He made it clear that he's been doing all this breaking news, he's a world traveler and he needs his rest. In between each little short session he will be in his trailer, getting his needed sleep. I spent the entire day -- I'm talking about 11 hours -- outside his dressing room with a bullhorn screaming at everybody to stay away, Piers is trying to sleep. I didn't let up. He didn't get one second of sleep. One day, I had the PAs and me push a Coke machine in front of his dressing room so he couldn't get to the stage.

He is certainly more angry at me than he has ever been.


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-- Scott Collins


Photo: Howie Mandel on the set of "Mobbed." Credit: Eric Vlassic / Fox.