My favorite media event of the entire year is the Television Critics Association press tour. For two weeks, every network and cable station brings their talent to have presentations with their stars and producers for the TV critics. At night they host parties where you can just roam around and find celebrities to pester.
Comcast Networks held their party outdoors in the Oasis Garden at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. When I found G4 “Attack of the Show’s” Alison Haislip, she was shivering in a clingy black skirt. At least it wasn’t as bad as the lingerie models floating in the fountain. I found Haislip a heat lamp where we could chat about guest hosting for Olivia Munn, old school video games, and technology.
Screen Junkies: Were you always grooming yourself to fill in on “Attack of the Show” or was there an opening you seized?
Alison Haislip: Well, I’ll be honest. When I first started out on the network, I never foresaw there being a time when it wasn’t going to be Kevin and Olivia so I never really thought about it. It was just when Olivia started booking more work outside of G4 and taking more time off and I kept stepping in and stepping in. The first couple of times it was fun and it was awesome, but it was always Kevin and Olivia’s thing and I just sort of stepped in when needed. Once I started doing it more and more, I was like, “I really enjoy doing this. This is a lot of fun. I could host an hour long live television show every day if I had the opportunity.” Now I’m being given the opportunity which is pretty fantastic so I can’t say it’s something I planned for but it is definitely something that I’m very excited about.
SJ: Are you the Jay Leno of G4?
AH: [Laughs] Right, right, right. I don’t know, that’s a good way to put it, although I hope that doesn’t mean Conan O’Brien has it out for me at some point.
SJ: Where did you get your start in gaming? What was the first one that really got you hooked?
AH: Well, my parents had an Atari 2600 since I was born. So as soon as I was old enough to figure out how to play it I was playing it. I remember they had it set up to this black and white television in our basement and I always played on that. Then one Christmas, we went to my grandmother’s house and they brought the Atari and hooked it up to my grandmother’s television in the living room which was color and it blew my mind because I didn’t know Atari could be in color! I always thought Atari was just a black and white gaming system but it wasn’t. It was in color. In “Combat,” the tanks were now pink and green instead of just gray and lighter gray. So I was playing from a very young age and then I got the old school Nintendo system when I was eight. Then I was hooked. I’m convinced it’s the reason my brother and I are best friends. We didn’t kill each other as young children because we played video games together. That’s what helped us got along.
SJ: What was the big NES game for you?
AH: The NES game that has a place in my heart is “Duck Tales” because that’s the first game that I ever beat, that I ever fully completed. I was big fan of like Nintendo Olympics or something like that that had the little running pad.
SJ: The Power Pad!
AH: The Power Pad, I forget exactly what game it was attached to but it was like track and field and all this stuff. We found out ways to cheat. If you like leaned on a chair, then you could just move your feet really fast and your dude would just take off. Then if you wanted to jump, you jumped off the pad and then stepped back on and that’s how you got a longer jump. That was always a great game to play with the neighborhood kids.
SJ: What are you playing for fun now?
AH: “Super Mario Galaxy 2.” I’m loving it, although I’ve definitely hit the point in the game where the levels are so difficult it takes me 45 minutes to beat a level, which is just an absurd amount of time to spend on one Mario level. You know what I mean? They upped the difficulty of this game so much that I’m like, “I don’t even know if I can finish this game. This game might be too hard for me to beat, and it’s a Mario game.”
SJ: Why can’t they make a game so no matter where you are, you can save your game? The lifestyle now is you might not have 45 minutes.
AH: I mean, you’ve never been able to save in the middle of a Mario game because normally the levels don’t take you that long. The idea is you can normally finish it in 15-20 so you’d think they’d change it.
SJ: What if you just want to play five minutes. You bought the game. They don’t need to make you replay it.
AH: It is true although I will admit, in “Super Mario Galaxy” there are save points within the level, so if you die, you only go back to that save point. You don’t go back to the beginning, but if you don’t finish the level and you turn the game off, then you have to do the whole thing again. That’s gamer rage. That’s what we have to deal with, right?
SJ: What crazy stunts or costumes are you looking forward to on your G4 hosting gig?
AH: Well, I’m hosting “American Ninja Warrior” which I’m very, very excited about. We’ve upped the ante on this one literally. There’s now a $250,000 prize attached to it to any American who can finish the course in Mount Midoriyama. I’m very excited about that. I can’t think of any costumes that are coming up but I’ll be honest, normally I find that out the day of. Normally I show up to work and they’re like, “We’re going to dress you like you’re from the ‘80s” and I’m like all right, why not? Right now it’s mainly “American Ninja Warrior” and then hosting the show while Olivia’s off doing “Perfect Couples.”
SJ: Do you take requests for costumes?
AH: All the time and it’s not up to me is what people have to realize. You have to tell the network you want to see me dressed like that. They make all those decisions. I will admit, I was the one who really pushed for dressing as Catwoman at Comic Con a couple years ago because so many people were behind that idea that I realized that I could probably get some benefit out of it. So I told the people, “Hey, if I get G4 to let me dress as Catwoman at Comic-Con, you guys all have to donate one dollar to a certain charity.” Everyone got behind it, I did it and they donated money and I matched what was donated. We did some good for the world.
SJ: What gadgets do you carry in your purse?
AH: The only thing I have in here is my phone, my Droid. It looks way wonky because I have this janky case on it. I’m pretty sure I’m due for a new phone in November and I think I’m going to go with the Droid X then. Although I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the iPhone’s going to come to Verizon but I feel like no matter how much I dream that, it’s never going to happen. So I’m sticking with the Droids for now. I also have a fantastic shade of lip gloss.