Mark Long is ready to get back to The Challenge! After making his debut on the first-ever season of Road Rules in 1995, Long, 49, went on to compete on five seasons of The Challenge — winning two — and cohosted a season. However, he hasn’t appeared since 2012.
Since then, he’s stayed a part of the community and pitched a new idea: A season of old-school competitors who haven’t been on for years. He shared that idea on Twitter on June 28 and it quickly went viral. So, he began reaching out to his former costars to see who was interested. Next, he’ll pitch it.
“As you know, the reason why we can’t do that full season is a lot of us now have full-time jobs, careers and/or children. So leaving for eight weeks is impossible,” Long explained on the “Watch With Us” podcast on Thursday, July 2. “People that I’ve reached out to are people that have always wanted to come back, I think, but have had either family or job issues that wouldn’t allow it. And I think a two-week shooting schedule is perfect. They used to shoot Champs vs. Stars in two weeks and get a lot of episodes out of that.”
So far, Long has reached out to a ton of competitors who haven’t been on the show in years, including two-time champ Eric Nies, three-time champ Landon Lueck, Extreme Challenge winner Syrus Yarbrough, three-time winner Evelyn Smith, two-time champ Susie Meister and four-time competitor Ruthie Alcaide. Plus, since he started tweeting about his idea, past cast members have started reaching out to him.
However, his hope isn’t for a show with the same format as The Challenge.
“I want to take it back to where it was fun. It was light-hearted but still competitive. Is there some drama? I’m sure there will be but what I think will be super special about something like this is being able to almost capture the Where Are They Now? type of feel like when they introduce characters on the first episode. Let’s dig in. Let’s see what they’ve been up to the first the last 5, 10, 20 years,” Long continued. “So you also get that nostalgic feel of not only what they’ve been up to, but also, are they ready to put on that Speedo and melt some ice with their assets? I think a blend of that would be phenomenal.”
While Long watches The Challenge: Total Madness and enjoys it, he knows that it would be very different with this cast — the conversations alone would change, as most of the cast is much older than the current competitors.
“I want this to be its own thing standing on its own. Let’s see how these people interact as adults, but let’s throw some fun and games in there as well. I wouldn’t want anyone even getting eliminated because what’s the point of that? Why not have personalities and everyone together under the same roof,” he explained to Us. “We didn’t have all the cranes and the explosions in the bunkers back 20 years ago. But, you know, what carried us through is all of these different personalities and being able to capture that all living under one roof while competing. I think we can do that again. And I think there’s not only an urge for it, and a hunger for it. I think it’s totally relevant for what’s going on right now, because let me tell you something, some social opinions are going to be different and probably talked about. … These are things that are so creative and different that you’re not gonna get to see on a regular Challenge that I think people are yearning for.”
Although he doesn’t want people going home, Long knows there would have to be some sort of “stakes,” since that’s always necessary for reality TV.
“I’m not going to say we’re going to be firing out of rockets, but we can do stuff and create scenarios where the stakes are high. The winner is going to get handsomely rewarded somehow,” he said. “I think it’s a hybrid. I think it’s a hybrid of a Real World setting with a Challenge type of feel. I don’t think there’s going to be five episodes of the OGs drunk in hot tubs. I don’t think that’s going to happen. Will there be one episode of that? Probably. … Will there be drama? Of course, I mean, how could there not be? But I don’t want it to be as visceral and people waiting with bated breath to be on Twitter just firing nastiness on each other during the episodes. I don’t want that.”
The Battle of the Seasons host has plans to pitch his idea to MTV and Bunim-Murray Productions, as that is where his loyalty lie. However, if they don’t like it, he’s willing to go elsewhere. He’s hoping they will see the value in something that could possibly also be shot during the pandemic, as it’s much easier to quarantine 14 competitors for two weeks int he states than fly 35 international contestants across the world.
Although he’s received a lot of yeses from past competitors, one Challenger turned down the opportunity: Mike “The Miz” Mizanin.
“He, unfortunately, was like, ‘Dude, I’m so busy,'” Long said of Miz, who is a WWE Superstar, the host of Cannonball on USA Network, star of Miz and Mrs. and a father of two. “He’s like, ‘As much as I’d love to be a part of it, it’s just totally not feasible.’ So the Miz, unfortunately, is out in terms of not having enough bandwidth to even take something on.”
That said, Long is determined to make this happen. Scott Yager, cohost of the “Challenge Mania” podcast, joined the discussion and together, the pair coined the hashtag “#WeWantOGs.” Yager also launched a logo and a line of merchandise behind the movement, available now.
“I’m definitely gonna fight for the fans,” Long stated. “I’m not gonna let it go until I get an absolute no.”
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