Game show Loteria Loca debuts on CBS October 2. The series is based on the Mexican game of chance known as loteria, which is like bingo, but uses images instead of letter-number combos.
Jaime Camil is host and executive producer. An actor and singer, Camil’s singing skills are on display in Loteria Loca, which features a house band led by Sheila E., and dancers as well.
“If a late-night show, a variety show and a game show had a baby, it would be us,” Camil told B+C.
In each episode, two players take turns picking cards to get four in a row, which is lotería. Each time a match appears on their card, they bank money. Landing on one of the “Loca Cards” gives players the opportunity to bank even more cash by competing in interactive challenges. The player who gets the most “loterías” on their board the fastest moves on to the final round for a chance to win the cash prize.
Loteria Loca, which translates to crazy lottery, was created by Jeff Apploff, Aaron Solomon and Alejandro Trevino. Showrunner Apploff told B+C three different contestants virtually “won” the million-dollar grand prize when the show was in rehearsals. As it officially kicks off Monday, contestants can win the actual million.
“The reason I love what I do is, I love to watch real people win big money,” Apploff said. “This game always has a million dollars on the table. Every single person who comes to play has a chance to become a millionaire.”
Apploff’s credits include prime game shows Beat Shazam, Don’t Forget the Lyrics and Mental Samurai.
Camil’s TV credits include Jane the Virgin, where he portrayed Rogelio, and he has hosted awards shows, game shows and other TV events. When the show was announced, Amy Reisenbach, president of CBS Entertainment, noted his “incredible charisma and passion for this project.”
Sheila E., who of course played with Prince and released the landmark 1984 album The Glamorous Life, got on board as band leader by chance. Apploff said a computer tech guy was at his house in Los Angeles, and the two got talking about Apploff’s various projects. He mentioned Loteria Loca, and how he envisioned a live band for it, and wanted a lively band leader. The tech guy mentioned that Sheila E. lived nearby, which Apploff did not realize.
Days later, Apploff and Sheila E. were on Zoom together.
The game show has been in the works at CBS for a few years, Apploff noted. The Price Is Right at Night leads into Loteria Loca October 2.
Loteria is a very popular game in Mexico. It’s a game the whole family can play together. Camil said one sees the game’s motif in clothing brands, restaurant designs and aspects of day-to-day life. (LAX has a Loteria Grill in Terminal 5.) “You cannot measure how big it is,” he said.
Apploff said the CBS game celebrates culture beyond U.S. borders. “That’s the beauty of a show like this,” he said. “It feels like you’re watching it in a Mexican village.”
Some contestants on Loteria Loca grew up playing loteria, and some probably never heard of it until they heard of the game show. “We wanted a wide variety of people from all over the country, from all walks of life,” Apploff said. “We wanted people with great personalities, people who are really fun and have a great story.”
Perhaps one of them will win $1 million. “We want to give away the money,” Apploff said.
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.