Identity (game show)

Identity (game show)

Infobox Television
show_name = Identity

caption =
format = Game show
camera = Multi-camera
picture_format =
audio_format =
runtime = 60 minutes
creator = Tim Puntillo
developer = Reveille Productions
executive_producer = Ben Silverman
H.T. Owens
Andrew Golder
Tim Puntillo
starring = Penn Jillette
narrated = Joe Cipriano
opentheme =
endtheme =
country = USA
language = English
network = NBC
first_aired = December 18, 2006
last_aired = April 27, 2007
num_seasons = 1
num_episodes = 12
list_episodes =
preceded_by =
followed_by =
website =
imdb_id = 0906714
tv_com_id = /66648

"Identity" was a game show, hosted by Penn Jillette and produced by Reveille where contestants could win money by matching 12 strangers one-by-one to phrases about their identities. The first five episodes debuted on NBC from December 18, 2006 through December 22, 2006.cite web |url= |title=Penn Jillette hosts Identity |accessdate=2006-12-05 |last=Mahan |first=Colin |date= 2006-11-20 |] [cite press release |url= |title='IDENTITY,' AN ORIGINAL GAME OF FIRST IMPRESSIONS HOSTED BY PENN JILLETTE, TO PREMIERE ON NBC AS FIVE-NIGHT EVENT FROM DECEMBER 18-22 |accessdate=2006-12-05 |date= 2006-11-20 |publisher=NBC Universal Media Village] The show was rebroadcast on NBC's cable sibling Bravo at 11:30 PM ET on December 18, 2006 and 11 PM the rest of the week. The show also aired the same week in Canada on Global. On March 16, 2007, the show returned to NBC as a regular series, with the first episode of the season airing at a special time of 9-10pm ET; "Identity" aired Fridays at 8 PM ET, beginning March 23, 2007.cite press release | title = NBC'S HIT GAME SHOW 'IDENTITY' RETURNS TO THE SCHEDULE FRIDAYS BEGINNING MARCH 16 | publisher = NBC Universal Media Village | date = 2007-02-14 |url = | accessdate = 2007-02-16] The second series aired in Canada on CH (now known as "E!"). Despite NBC announcing only seven episodes would air on the network during the spring, additional episodes were taped. "Identity" was put on hiatus on April 27, 2007 after the seven scheduled episodes completed airing.

"Identity" was not announced as part of the 2007 season for NBC [ [ 2007 Cancelled Shows: Several NBC Cancellations » TV Series Finale ] ] , and therefore, has been cancelled.

how Format

A contestant is introduced to twelve Strangers. After seeing the Strangers, the contestant is presented with a list of 12 Identities (facts including occupations, hobbies, ages, etc.), each of which applies to one, and only one, of the 12 Strangers. Based primarily on visual observation, the contestant chooses an Identity and tries to match it to the correct Stranger. In order to make a decision final, the contestant must "seal the Identity" by pressing their palm down on a provided podium after saying which Stranger matches that Identity. Jillette, sometimes after finding out the Stranger's first name, then asks the Stranger "Is that your Identity?" The Stranger confirms or denies his or her Identity. Confirmation is often made in a manner pertinent to the Identity, either through a statement (e.g., a baseball umpire saying "Safe!"), or by demonstration (e.g., jumping rope). Identity was placed on hiatus as of May 1, 2007. NBC said it would bring the program back later in the year, but never did.

For each correct match made, the contestant's potential winnings increases:

"Note: Since the eleventh and final choice will necessarily assign the two remaining Identities to the two remaining Strangers, there are only eleven steps on the money ladder, not twelve.

After a contestant makes two correct matches, or makes a mistake, he or she is informed of the three "helps" available to him or her (although they are, in fact, available at any point in the game). One of those helps is simply a rule of the game:
*Mistaken Identity: The Mistaken Identity "help" is used if a contestant makes a mistake at any point before winning $250,000. After that, the The Mistaken Identity is revoked, if not used. A contestant's money is not at stake until the contestant makes a mistake or reaches the final decision; after one of those two things happens, a contestant may take his or her money and quit at any point before sealing another Identity. If a contestant makes a second mistake, the game is over and the contestant leaves with nothing.

The other two helps can be invoked by the contestant to aid in making a decision:
*Tri-dentity: The contestant chooses an Identity and the number of Strangers to choose from is narrowed down to three: the correct Stranger and two incorrect Strangers. Once the player has chosen to use their Tri-dentity, he or she "must" solve that Identity (or stop and take his or her winnings, if Mistaken Identity was already used); they cannot choose a different Identity. The Tri-dentity help is revoked, if not used, once only four Strangers remain.
*Ask The Experts: The contestant chooses an Identity and a panel of three experts gives their individual informed opinions on which Stranger matches it. In the first week of shows, the panel included a body language expert (Mark Edgar Stephens), a psychologist (Dr. Deborah Anderson), and an FBI behavioural expert (Christopher Whitcomb), although private investigator Bill Stanton has substituted for Whitcomb in some episodes. The experts have no inside information about the Strangers. They rely solely on professional training and personal experience to make educated guesses. The contestant is not bound to solve that Identity once the Experts have given their opinions--nor is the contestant required to abide by those decisions--and may solve another Identity or choose to go home. This help is available at any point in the game.

In addition to the three explained helps, there are several other points of assistance offered to the contestant:
*During "Identity"'s premiere week, Jillette would ask the contestant which Stranger he or she wants to know more about. He will then ask that Stranger their first name, and several pieces of information which are not directly related to any of the Identities, such as whether they have any pets. When "Identity" debuted as a weekly series, this was formalized: at the beginning of the game, the contestant may ask for the first names, and a biographical fact, about three of the twelve Strangers. After the third correct match, the contestant can ask about two of the remaining nine Strangers, and after the sixth match, may ask about one of the remaining six.
*After the fourth correct match, Jillette introduces the contestant's friends and/or family members (in much the same way as Howie Mandel does on "Deal or No Deal"). The friends and family typically have a suggestion prepared as to the Identity of one of the Strangers after they are introduced. However, the friends or family members may sometimes lead a person to match an Identity to the wrong Stranger or take the money when they would have won the grand prize.
*The audience is "not" obligated to remain silent until an Identity is sealed. The audience often voices their opinion on a selection. Occasionally when a contestant fails to recognize a celebrity of some sort and tries to select him or her for the wrong Identity, the audience can dissuade the contestant with their reaction.
*Jillette himself, particularly on early Identities, has shown apparent intention on warning, or hinting at the contestants when they are making a blatantly erroneous selection, though he also sometimes is prevented from doing so by a contestant's quick sealing of an Identity.

The Identities and Strangers

The 12 strangers stand on individually numbered podiums and are referred to mainly by number, though names are often revealed in the progress of the show.

Usually at least one Identity is made blatantly obvious from physical appearance alone (blatant examples include a "Sumo wrestler" in fighting garb, and a "George W. Bush impersonator"). Celebrity Strangers may be easily recognizable by the contestant or the contestant's friends (once they are allowed to help). To date, there have been no intentionally misleading costumes (e.g., a physicist dressed as a sumo wrestler when both "physicist" and "sumo wrestler" are possible Identities), although Strangers often break stereotypes (e.g., a female prison guard, a goateed, long-haired nuclear physicist wearing a leather jacket, or a preschool teacher dressed in a bikini). There was even a missionary wearing a bikini in one episode.

Strangers have confirmed their Identities in a variety of ways; musicians, for example, have been handed instruments and asked to play if they can (similarly, opera singer Jennifer Wallace revealed her Identity by holding a very high note). Some "skill" Identities have been confirmed by demonstration; for example, a (male) go-go dancer danced on stage. Sometimes Strangers perform from their podiums, while others are brought to the front of the main stage. Other strangers confirm their Identities with a remark which pertains to their identity. An NFL player hesitated and then signaled "It's good" with his hands signaling a field goal, while a mall Santa laughed "ho ho ho". Most follow their comment up with "Yes, I am [the Identity] " (though the audience reaction often masks this), and some Strangers say only that.

In cases where the Stranger is prepared to demonstrate his or her identity, but the contestant selects the wrong Stranger for that identity, the mistaken Stranger will be asked to try to demonstrate that Identity, only to refuse at the last moment and confirm he is not that Identity. Strangers that were prepared to demonstrate their Identity but were not given the opportunity (the player loses or quits the game) may be asked to demonstrate this when the full answers are revealed to the player.

how summaries

*On the first night, there were two contestants, private investigator Herb Irvine from Boston, Massachusetts, and Andrea Brown from Atlanta, Georgia. Irvine won $75,000 after guessing seven of the twelve Strangers correctly and choosing to quit the game; Brown won $50,000 after guessing six Strangers correctly and choosing to go home.
*On the second night, Robert Talon of Chula Vista, California, became the first winner of the show's top prize of $500,000 by guessing all 12 identities correctly. Talon, a loan officer, correctly identified, among others, a National Football League player (Ray Crockett), a reality television starlet (Brittny Gastineau), an immigrant from Russia, a blackjack dealer (named Pamela), and a belly dancer (named Ava), which was his final correct answer. The remaining unguessed identity was that of violinist. When the week ended, Talon was the only winner of the top prize.
*In contrast, fire fighter Matthew Gatewood, the first contestant of the third night, left without winning money after failing twice. He thought that #9 was a circus performer (she was actually a professional wrestler) and that #5 was a power lifter (he was really a U.S. Army Ranger) He was convinced that Erin Murphy, Tabitha from Bewitched was an Army Ranger. He was followed by Nickie Malouf of Burbank, California, who won $50,000 after guessing six identities correctly.
*The fourth night of the run brought a $250,000 win for Nicci Guzik of Streamwood, Illinois. She stopped just short of the grand prize because she had an uneasy feeling about her guess at the final identity. She thought that #11 was a crime scene investigator, but she was actually a kidney donor; #9 was the CSI.
*The fifth night involved two games. In the first game, math educator Seth Cutler from Massapequa, New York, chose to walk away the prize money at $50,000. He used his Mistaken Identity early in the game thinking that Bruce Jenner was a ventriloquist. The second game ended with Tami Jones of West Hills, California, losing the game and receiving no prize money.
*When the series returned on March 16, 2007, Christina Howard of Sacramento, California, won the top prize of $500,000 by correctly identifying stranger #11 as a prison guard (the remaining stranger, #6, was an astronomer). She became the second player to win the top prize, and managed to do so without using her Mistaken Identity help during the game.
**This episode also introduced a revamped set, featuring larger, blue platforms for the strangers, as well as three TV screens near the contestant, which displayed each of the contestant's helps.
*On April 13, 2007, Christian Saulnier of Norwood, Massachusetts, won the top prize of $500,000 by correctly identifying stranger #3 as a chimney sweep (the remaining stranger, #6, was a pickpocket). He became the 3rd player to win the top prize. He used his Mistaken identity thinking that #6 was an air guitar champion when #1 is an air guitar champion.

The Strangers

The twelve people on the show whose Identities are being guessed are known as strangers. The following are some famous strangers that have appeared:

* The voice of Mr. Moviefone, Russ Leatherman
* Eve Plumb of "The Brady Bunch"; her identity was as a painter
* Michelle Banzer, Miss Kentucky USA 2007; her identity was "speaks Vietnamese"
* Cara Gorges, Miss Kansas USA 2007; her identity was "mortician's apprentice"
* Amber Seyer, Miss Missouri USA 2007; her identity was a pig farmer
* Layla El, WWE diva
* Suzanne Stonebarger, pro beach volleyball player
* Tami Lane, an Academy Award winner (Best Makeup for "The Chronicles of Narnia")
* Brian Gorman, a veteran MLB official who served as home plate umpire for one of the games of the 2004 World Series.
*Franklin Ruehl, certified UFOlogist.
* Ray Crockett, who played with the Denver Broncos in Super Bowls XXXII and XXXIII.
* Brittny Gastineau, who co-starred on the reality show "The Gastineau Girls" on E!.
* Country musician Aaron Tippin
* Jordan Knight, former member of New Kids on the Block
* 2006 Playmate of the Year Kara Monaco
* "The Price is Right" model Phire Dawson
* Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's son, Kareem, Jr.
* Erin Murphy, who played Tabitha on the 1960s television sitcom "Bewitched".
* Stan Lee, writer co-creator of Spider-Man, X-Men, The Incredible Hulk, and The Fantastic Four.
* Maurice Greene (Stranger #10), former holder of the 100-meter world record. He is also engaged to "Deal or No Deal" model Claudia Jordan. (Guzik correctly identified him as the world's fastest man, although she incorrectly named him as Marion Jones).
* Bruce Jenner, Olympic gold medalist in the decathlon
* Jerry Mathers, Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver in the television show Leave it to Beaver
* Tara Conner, Miss USA 2006. (Her appearance on the show was taped prior to her announcement that she would go into drug rehabilitation.)
* Brent Mendenhall, a George W. Bush impersonator featured on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno
* Celebrity stylist Jonathan Antin
* Jason Allen Alexander, former and first husband of Britney Spears
* Trey Wright, 2004 National Scrabble Championship winner
* Mike Escamilla, X-Games Gold Medalist, pro BMXer
* Michael McCary, one of the four members of the R&B group Boyz II Men
* Jamie Kennedy, actor/comedian
* Mary Lou Retton, Olympic gold medalist in gymnastics' all-around and the first woman to appear on a Wheaties box
* Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist
* Jessica Sutta, member of The Pussycat Dolls
* John Moschitta, Jr., the world's fastest talker
* Billy Blanks, creator of Tae-Bo
* Bonnie Fuller, magazine editor of Star and Former editor in chief of Glamour Magazine
* Richard Brodie, the original author of Microsoft Word
* The Enigma, a heavily tattooed side-show actor with the identity "Eats bugs"
* Steve Wilkos, Jerry Springer's security guard on Jerry's show.
* Cindy Margolis, most downloaded woman on the internet.
* Lance Burton, magician
* Peter Mayhew, actor who played Chewbacca in Star Wars
* Kimberly Estrada, former Deal or No Deal caseholder and actress (identified as 35 years old)
* Christopher Lowell, a home design guru
* Phil Varone, a rock and roll drummer from Skid Row (heavy metal band)
* Mikalah Gordon, American Idol finalist from season 4
* Tila Tequila, over 1,000,000 MySpace friends
* Tyson Mao, a past world record holder for solving a Rubik's Cube
* Misty May-Treanor, professional beach volleyball player and Olympic athlete (identified as "born in 1977")
* Frank Stallone, Sylvester Stallone's brother
* Bridget Marquardt, Hugh Hefner's girlfriend
* Eugene Edgerson, a Harlem Globetrotter
* Perez Hilton, celebrity blogger
* James "Buster" Douglas, first boxer to knock out Mike Tyson
* Joey Chestnut, competitive eater
* Abigail Kintanar, Red Oyster from Flavor of Love
* [ Andrew "William Ocean" Litz] , Air Guitar Champion
* Tony Hawk, professional skateboarder (identified as person who designed a roller coaster)
* Mike "The Miz" Mizanin, WWE superstar
* Dayna Devon, co-anchor of Extra
* Lil' Jon, a platinum recording artist
* CariDee English, winner of America's Next Top Model
* Raye Hollitt, a former member of American Gladiators (where she was "Zap") and bodybuilding Champ.
* Sara Payne Hayden, a World War II test pilot
* Matthew Lesko, infomercial millionaire
* David Joyner, the original Barney
* Mike Jones (jazz musician), a jazz pianist in Penn Jillete's Las Vegas show
* Debbie Matenopoulos, former co-host of The View
* Joe Maloof, NBA team co-owner of the Sacramento Kings
* Jim Barton, co-inventor of TiVo
* Joanna Krupa, supermodel
* Tyler Baze, Horse Racing jockey

Interactive game

During the first season, in addition to the regular game, like two other NBC game shows, "Deal or No Deal" and "1 vs. 100", there is an at-home game open to residents of the continental United States called "The "Identity" Challenge", where an at-home player chosen at random wins $10,000 (US) by choosing which of five Strangers represents a product, or a profession related to the advertised product.cite web | url = | title = IDENTITY “Play-at-Home Game” Official Rules | publisher = NBC | accessdate = 2006-12-21]

On the first two nights, three of the five were revealed to be incorrect throughout the game, and the answer is revealed before the final commercial break. On the next three, there was no such narrowing; all five Strangers remained alive throughout the show.

To encourage viewers to watch television commercials during the show, the correct answer to the "The "Identity" Challenge" question is revealed during a related commercial within the first 20 minutes of the show.

The first episode of the regular run, on March 16, 2007, did not have an interactive feature. It appeared that all subsequent episodes did not have an interactive game like the trial run.


International Versions

United Kingdom

The show has been sold to BBC in the United Kingdom to air on BBC Two during the daytime (replacing Weakest Link in the 5.15pm slot for four weeks). It is hosted by Donny Osmond. [ [ BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Donny Osmond to host TV game show ] ] Each show is self-contained, with a game lasting 12 guesses, rather than until two mistakes are made. The top prize in this version is £10,000, Mistaken identity gifts no penalty on the first mistake. Further errors causes the contestant to drop a level on the money tree.

One of the strangers from one of the BBC shows had an identity of 'Addicted to tanning' and has posted a picture of the strangers on set at [ [ Mobile Spray Tanning in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire ] ] including one of Donny Osmond. Notable people to have appeared as Strangers on the show include Renato Pagliari ("One hit wonder"), Acrobat stunt man Marcelo The Daredevil, Phil "The Power" Taylor, Sara Mendes da Costa ("Speaking clock") and Scott Mills ("BBC Radio 1 DJ"). This has already caused somewhat of a controversy, as unsourced statement claimed the programme has employed actors to help boost its popularity in the first series.

So far (as of 19/9/07), two contestants have won the £10,000 top prize.


The show has been also sold to German television network ProSieben and will be aired in 2007. The host will be former singer Oliver Petzokat. Top prize may be 250,000 .


The show started airing in Israel on June 13, 2007. It airs on Channel 10 and is hosted by Shlomo Baraba. 500,000 is the grand prize (most likely).


Recently, the show has been sold to Norwegian television channel TV Norge. The prize should be at least 1,000,000 NOK.


SBT in Brazil just launched its own version. The host is Adriane Galisteu. Prize should be R$500,000.


TV Azteca in Mexico also launched its own version, titled "Identidad" (Identity) with Mexican comedian Andrés Bustamante as host. The tagline for the show is "Las aparencias engañan" ("Looks are Deceiving"). It airs on Azteca 13 in Mexico. Initially, the shows aired on Sundays at 21:00; starting on July 18, 2007, the show will air on Wednesdays at 22:00 instead. The show features a similar set and virtually identical format compared to the US version. The top prize is Mex$250,000 (only about US$25,000), which has been won at least once.

Hong Kong

TVB produces its version of the show in 2008, called "亮相" (lit. "strike a pose to everyone"), and the first season was hosted by actor Eric Kot, a member of Softhard band, the second season was co-hosted by both Sammy Leung and Kitty Yuen Siu Yi (episode 1-15), Alex Fong (episode 16-20), Shirley Yeung (episode 16-18) and Anna Yau (episode 18-20). The top prize is HK$200,000 (about US$25,700), which has been won 10 times. To date, all contestants have been celebrities, and the Hong Kong athletes of the 2008 Olympic Games since episode 16 of the second season.


TVE1 in Spain has launched its own version, since July 16 2007. It's called "Identity", like the American version. The host is Antonio Garrido, a great Spanish actor. He participated in films like "Camarón" or "El Camino de los Ingleses", directed by Antonio Banderas. Grand prize is €100,000. At the moment, nine contestants have achieved in reaching the top prize; the fifth, in a X-mas's special edition. The second winner of the show, Irene Rodríguez, has becomed an expert, being the "Identity expert". After a long break, Identity comes back to Spanish Tv on June 23 2008. The money tree goes like this: €1000, €2000, €3000, €4000, €5000, €6000, €10,000, €15,000, €25,000, €50,000, €100,000.


In Italy the show started airing in June 2007 on Rai Uno channel. Its name is 'I soliti ignoti/Le identità nascoste'. The show is hosted by Fabrizio Frizzi. This version has ten impostors. Instead of set prizes for solving each identity, in this version, each stranger holds a card with an amount from €1000 to €100,000. Each identity solved adds that stranger's amount to the bank. The top prize for solving all ten identities is €250,000. If the player gets an identity wrong, all the money earned up to that moment is lost. The player cannot choose the order of the identities, the order is preset (1, 10, 2, 9, 3, 8, 4, 7, 5, 6). The contestant can ask for help on three impostors.

=Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina=

TV game show Identity card from 50 KM to 1,000,000 KM. the order is preset (1, 2, 4, 3, 5, 7, 6, 9, 10, 8)

=Russian Federation=

Russia has just started a version of "Identity" for TNT. The top prize is 1,000,000 rubles.


Finland just started its own version. It is called "Tuntemattomat", meaning "the unknown". The top prize is 30,000 euros.


The first episode of "Identity - hvem er hvem?" (Engl.: "Identity - who's who?") aired on February 14 2008, hosted by Thomas Mygind. The maximum prize (12 correct identity matches) is 500,000 kroner, being about 67,000 euros. It is aired by Kanal 5 (Denmark).

South Korea

SBS has been airing a Korean version of Identity, named "공통점을 찾아라" (Literally means, "Find the Similarities") which began airing in March 2008. It is hosted by comedian Suh Kyung-Suk, and the top prize is 50,000,000 won.

In this version, the contestant is presented with ten strangers, seven of whom have the same occupation. The strangers are often dressed in regular clothing or outfits that reflect their hobbies.

In the opening round, before regular gameplay begins, the contestant are given a choice of four occupations and, after receiving three clues, must choose which of the occupations is correct. (In one game, for example, seven of the ten strangers were bodyguards. The contestant was given the choices of bodyguards, stuntmen, policemen, or firemen.)

After the opening round, the strangers are presented again, this time dressed in outfits appropriate to their occupation, and the contestant must choose which of the seven have the same occupation. (The remaining three strangers have the other occupations listed in the opening round.) One wrong answer is allowed, in either the opening round or regular gameplay, but two will end the game.

If the contestant wins over 10,000,000 won, they are given a choice of whether to take the money or to continue playing.

Each episode of the show is self-contained, and to date have contained two complete games. Also, to date all contestants have been celebrities. (Korean programs often do this to promote interest in the show before allowing non-celebrity contestants to appear.)

The show is currently off air. It is not clear whether this is because the program had not been licensed from Reveille Productions.


In Greece, Star Channel airs the Greek version of the show (called "ΤΑΥΤΟΤΗΤΑ") every Friday at 21:00.The prize is 150.000 euros.


External links

* [ NBC's Official "Identity" web site]
* [ "Identidad" on]
* [ Soliti ignoti - Identità nascoste (Italian version)]

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