New host Alison Sweeney and Executive Producer Mark Koops give us the scoop on what's in store in this new season
You've got to give The Biggest Loser credit. In this day and age of everybody trying to lose weight with crash diets and doctor's scalpels, along comes a show that tries to get people to lose weight safely and even offers them a $250,000 incentive to do so.
Recently, new host Alison Sweeney (currently starring in Days of Our Lives) and The Biggest Loser executive producer Mark Koops sat down to discuss the Fourth Season of this gripping and triumphant show.
Allison you had mentioned to some of the contestants that at one point you had had a weight problem. Could you talk about that?
Alison Sweeney: Well, I've struggled with my weight my whole life and I think that's like a really common theme that most people experience at some point in their lives. I've been acting on Days of Our Lives since I was 16 years old. As a teenager I became overweight and definitely struggled a little bit with my nutrition and finding time to work out because I was in high school and working at the same time. It was a battle to shed those excess pounds as I went through my teenage years, it was awkward anyway, when I finally faced adult life I took responsibility and I made some good changes in my nutrition. I learned how to hit the gym so I was about 21 when I finally came to terms with that.
Did people bother you, as a young actress, to lose weight?
Alison Sweeney: I'm so glad you asked that because the answer is "no." I've never had the producers of Days of Our Lives, or anyone... ever say anything to me about my weight. It really wasn't about that. They tried to show the reality of different people and different looks and different hair colors and different body types. They never gave me a hard time about it but lets be honest, I've had cast members tell me I was overweight when I was heavier.
Will there be any soap opera or drama related challenges for the players on The Biggest Loser this year?
Alison Sweeney: (Laughs) No.
Mark Koops: There's plenty of soap operas during the season.
Alison Sweeney: Yeah, I think it's two different genres but there's definitely a lot of drama that takes place on camera.
Can you talk about how the competition is mentally challenging and not just physically challenging?
Alison Sweeney: Well, from what I've experienced it's just taking them away from everything that they're used to, and putting them in a new environment where they really have to focus on themselves. A lot of what gets you in that situation in the first place is that you don't focus on yourself. You don't like to look in the mirror. You don't like to deal with what you're going through. You're putting yourself out there and it can be mentally overwhelming. All of our contestants just face it head on and they know that that's half the battle the mental aspect of it.
Mark Koops: We also had the opportunity to bring the contestants to the Days of Our Lives set which was a great chance for them to see Ali in her world. On the mental aspect part, I think the one thing they learn more than anything else is how to finish what they've started. They've all tried diets before, they've all tried things before and they've never learned to finish it. That's one of the major things they've learned. Even if it's in a challenge and they've lost the challenge, they all want to complete the challenge just to prove to themselves, "You know what? I can do it."
Are there any surprise twists in store this season?
Mark Koops: Well, obviously the big twist at the surprise of the season is obviously with Jillian (Michaels) as a trainer. There's a third team, we only ever had two teams previously. One of the teams thought they were going home, they came back with a chip on their shoulder. Jillian comes back with a chip on her shoulder so there's a lot of fireworks.
Alison Sweeney: With something to prove.
Why did you decide to change the host on the show for this season?
Mark Koops: The long and the short of it is that we looked at Alison to be the host the first time around when we started the show. She, at the time, was heavily pregnant with her son. It sort of hasn't worked out for a timing thing. As we were moving forward into production it's a big commitment in terms of, Caroline (Rhea) had other initiatives she wanted to pursue, by mutual consent we decided that it was easier for us to look in another direction. As soon as we looked in a different direction we had a very short list of names, of one, who we thought would be the perfect choice. We were fortunate enough on our side to secure the person that we wanted, that the network wanted, and that was Ali because I think she's so relatable.
Why do you think there's such a continued interest in several different weight loss shows?
Mark Koops: I think the subject matter is so very relatable. It's a been a staple of Daytime Television, of talk shows, ever since it started. I like to think of The Biggest Loser, as America's weight loss show. It was the first sort of prime time show that came along and brought the trappings of prime time production to it. It's just such a relatable topic. Everybody knows somebody, or they have weight problems themselves... there's a touchpoint and everybody is looking for answers. We're continually bombarded by commercials that aren't necessarily pushing the right foods or the right food choices. People are looking for answers and they're looking for ways to gain a little motivation. I compare our show to Extreme Makeover: Home Edition where there's amazing stories of transformation and personal journeys.
The fourth season of The Biggest Loser begins September 11 with a two hour premiere from 8-10 p.m. ET/ET on NBC.
The premiere will be preceded by a special featuring former contestants to find out if they've been able to keep off the pounds. It will air September 4 at 8-9 p.m. ET on NBC.