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Ten minutes with Ludacris, hosting MTV's version of 'Fear Factor' for 2017

This was posted Friday May 26, 2017 by Rodney Ho/ on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Crawling through a tunnel full of tarantulas. Strapped down in a pit of rats. Chewing down buffalo testicles. Drinking donkey sperm. Dunking your head into a tank of cow'd blood for rings.

For six seasons from 2001 to 2006, NBC's "Fear Factor" with goading host Joe Rogan captured the imaginations of early reality show audiences thanks to its pure gross-out factor. (A revival in 2011-12 only lasted one season.)

MTV is trying to recapture that magic starting Tuesday May 30, this time gearing the show to its younger target audience with contestants largely under the age of 25. Atlanta rap star and actor Ludacris is host. (Sure, he's outside the MTV demographic at age 39 but he still emotes plenty of cool.)

I spoke with him Luda for 10 minutes, mostly about the show but also got in questions about "Fast & Furious," his Roadie app and hosting the Billboard Music Awards.

Q: Did you get a chance to talk to Joe Rogan before you signed on?

Ludacris: No. I didn't get a chance. Without Joe Rogan and the original 'Fear Factor' creative crew, we wouldn't be here now. All respect. We are trying to reboot it. A lot of things have changed technologically over the last decade or so to make it look new. We have Go Pros and stunts can be shot at different angles with cameras in HD. We use cool slow mo. We are attacking it from multiple angles.

Q: What else is different?

Ludacris: We interviewed the contestants to find out their biggest fears, then designed challenges around them. We created teams, teams of sisters, or a mom and daughter, or people in a relationship. We are trying to give it a new face. And you have me. I tackle everything I can in terms of being real personable with these individuals, making it more personal.

Q: So how are you different from Rogan? (Joe Rogan, by the way, is coming to the Tabernacle August 25 for two shows of stand up. Buy tickets here.)

Ludacris: I don't like to compare and contrast. Both of us have unique personalities in the way we attack things. I think people know how I do things. I love to poke fun and be funny. With the name Ludacris, I can be overly wild, crazy and ridiculous. I don't like to just read cue cards. I want to put it in my own words.

Q: Did you try any of the challenges yourself?

Ludacris; Sometimes I did. A lot of times, it was about timing for me. I'm an adrenaline junkie which is why I joined the show. Nothing is better than just watching everything close up.

Q What are your biggest fear?

Ludacris: My biggest fear is fans coming to me in the bathroom and taking pictures.

Q: That wouldn't be a very interesting 'Fear Factor' challenge.

Ludacris: No. That wouldn't. My other fear would be open water far away from sure and having something brush up against my leg.

Q: That would work! They could sign you up for "Celebrity Fear Factor." They did that for awhile actually on NBC.

Ludacris: As long as I don't have to eat or drink anything nasty. I'm not scared of doing it. There's a difference.

Q: What's the nastiest thing you've ever eaten?

Ludacris: If I say something, I'll offend someone in this world.

Q: This is technically for the Atlanta paper but now someone in some random foreign country could read it.

Ludacris: Exactly.

Q: So how is the Roadie app doing? (I wrote about that last year, which is like an Uber for packages.)

Ludacris: It's building an audience. Obviously, it takes some time. Slowly but surely, it's building.

Q: What was the highlight of the Billboard Music Awards for you this year?

Ludacris: Cher! She's 71 up there and some men still want to hit that! Cher was dope. I really feel like for a woman to be 71 and still be on stage performing in those outfits, I don't have words for that. I was amazed. Who else stole the night was Celine Dion. She had so much energy and that voice filled the room. She took people's breath away.

Q: What did you think of the most recent "Fast and Furious 8"? [Ludacris has starred in the past four.]

Ludacris: Man. I'm so blessed. It seems like these movies get better and better. I know 7 was everyone's favorite for emotional reasons for Paul [Walker]. Besides that, 5 was my personal favorite. But now I feel like 8 is my favorite. It keeps changing.

Q: What's your latest project?

Ludacris: I released a new single "Vitamin D." [Yes, it's about women who need plenty of sun.] I just received word that it was No. 1 added song on urban and rhythmic stations. It's out on all formats, Spotify, Amazon. All is good.


"Fear Factor," 10 p.m. Tuesday, MTV, debuting May 30

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About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.