Johnny ‘Bananas’ Devenanzio on His Brand New ‘Celebrity Sleepover’ Talk Show
Time to put on your favorite pair of PJs, pour a favorite drink, and pop that bag of popcorn because you’re invited to Johnny “Bananas” Devenanzio’s Celebrity Sleepover. The host, a 20-season legend of MTV’s The Challenge, is welcoming stars for late-late-night conversation and games on NBC affiliates starting Saturday, April 3, right after Saturday Night Live.
Throughout April his guest list includes actress and Deliciousness host Tiffani Thiessen, The Real Housewives of Atlanta’s Cynthia Bailey, rocker Sammy Hagar, and comedian and musician Margaret Cho. Rounding out the lineup are casts from The Real World NY and The Challenge All Stars, as well as chef Anne Burrell from Worst Cooks in America. Famous faces will check in virtually while Devenanzio hosts from his cozy living room.
The late-night time slot is one Devenanzio is already familiar with as host of NBC’s travel and lifestyle show 1st Look. Before the premiere, he chatted with TV Insider about his ultimate slumber party.
How did Celebrity Sleepover come about?
Johnny Devenanzio:1st Look is a travel show, and travel has not been much of an option this year due to the current circumstances. I’m grateful enough and lucky enough to have a team around me who have the foresight and ability to refocus in another direction. We wanted to capitalize on the fact people want contact. Everybody has been home in their PJs and sweats for the last year on Zoom, so everyone can relate. Everyone has fond memories of sleepovers they had as kids. We wanted to create that fun unconventional environment. These celebrities are in their safe space. They are at home on their couch in PJs. They have a cocktail in their hands, if they prefer.
You have an eclectic group of people at your party.
There is someone for everyone. We wanted to put everything in the show people like. I also got to get people from my MTV world to cross pollinate. It’s an incredible group.
What can you tell me about the games portion?
The games range from bizarre food pairs and challenges to makeup tutorials and trivia with some pretty high stakes if you get the answer wrong.
What are some highlights so far?
Just sitting down with The Real World cast. As someone who spent the last decade-and-a-half on reality TV, to be able to talk to the pioneers that started it all… Talking to Sammy Hagar about what inspired him to join Van Halen, which may or may not have been due to a visit by extraterrestrials. I wanted to get away from the traditional Q&A.
You sit down with cast members of The Challenge: All Stars. What do you think of this season so far?
I follow it very closely because in the All Stars season these are the people I grew up not just competing with, but watching. To see them come back on TV, it’s just what the viewer wanted and needed. I’m really excited to watch the rest of the season. Anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, you’re missing out. The music, everything. There’s this hunger for nostalgia and All Stars feeds that appetite, which we are trying to capitalize on Celebrity Sleepover.
The last time you competed on The Challenge: Total Madness, you won. Do you consider yourself retired?
I’m hesitant to use the “R” word because a lot of people have retired in the past only to come back out. I won’t say you’ve seen the last of me, but right now I’ve got so much on my plate. I did not realize sitting on a couch in my living room talking to celebrities over Zoom was going to be such a difficult thing to do. Hosting and listening and asking questions is such a different world than reality TV. I’ll always love MTV and The Challenge for providing me the platform they did. Hopefully, it’s not goodbye but see you later.
What guests would you like to see on Celebrity Sleepover if you were to do more episodes?
I would love to have Mike Tyson. I think he would be fantastic. I would love to talk to Elon Musk. I would love to sit down with Joe Rogan. I love talking about new ideas and having different perspectives, and they are such unique individuals. It would be a dream come true to sit down to have some conversations with the three of them.
Celebrity Sleepover, Premieres April 3, on NBC (Check Local Listings)