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Published:December 12th, 2011 00:06 EST
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Chris Harrison Talks 'You Deserve It'

By Paulette Cohn

You Deserve It" is a game show with a heart and host Chris Harrison ("The Bachelor"/"The Bachelorette" says the stories behind the games are actually more heartwarming than the amount of cash the winners earn.

"That is what really drives the show," Harrison says. "I almost hate to even call it a game show, because it is almost more reality driven than it is game show. It is about getting to know Mama [Alice] Hattley, who gave her life to the community of South Central and every penny she ever had and had 11 people sleeping in her house. She has fallen on hard times herself, but, again, she is not sitting there saying, "Woe is me. I need money." It is her daughter and the people of the community that decided this woman has given so much to us, we need to give back." 

In "You Deserve It," the contestants play a game to win up to $250,000 but the catch is the money they win doesn`t go to them, but to someone else in their life that they feel is deserving.

That said, the beneficiary of the largesse isn`t even aware that there s a game going on until Harrison`s co-host Brooke Burns breaks the news in a hidden-camera moment.

In this week`s episode, contestant Greg Fisher, a local deputy sheriff and newlywed, wants to help his mother, Amy Fisher, get back on her feet financially. Sadly, earlier this year Amy lost her husband to a liver disease, leaving her with a stack of medical bills and mortgage payments that she`s struggling to keep up with. As an active member in her community, Amy has spent the last 20 years creating and running Aliso Viejo Little League, providing children in their community with a place to learn the values of teamwork and sportsmanship. Amy has always gone out of her way to make the people around her happy, and now Greg wants to play You Deserve It " to help his mother save the home that has provided their family and community with so many amazing memories.

Here is what Harrison has to say about "You Deserve It":

What is the major difference in hosting this type of reality show than "The Bachelor"?

I have been doing "The Bachelor" for 10 years. I love that. That is my baby, but they ask me to do certain things. They ask you to stay out of the way in a lot of aspects because the show is about "The Bachelor" or "The Bachelorette," whereas "You Deserve It" is very host-driven. As a host, it requires me to think a lot more on my feet, drive the game, but also drive the story. The story and who we are playing for is just as important as what we are playing. It is keeping an eye on the game but also the story and emotion and weighing both of those at the same time, because there is always this moment where these people win this money and they realize, "Oh, my gosh. I just changed my mom`s life or my brother`s life," so it is emotional to be that human element and be that friend there with them. Sometimes just a shoulder to cry on, so it is a very fun show to host. Not just because it is good, but I love what it asks of me as a host.

Can you briefly describe how the game works for people who haven`t seen it?

The game itself is fantastic and I love it. As close as you can come to it is "20 Questions" with  a little bit of a twist. Answering who, what or when questions with clues. The whole premise of the show is the giving aspect. The contestant who is playing the game is never playing for themself. They are always playing for someone else in their life who "deserves" it -- mom, brother, sister or friend. What really captivated me is that this isn`t your ordinary game show, so, in turn, I don`t have to be our ordinary game show host. I kind of get to be the friend, the confidant and also kind of the cheerleader. There is no antagonist in this game. You kind of always want everybody to win.

Do you have a favorite story about a contestant trying to win the money for someone they love?

Last Monday`s story, I felt, really encapsulated exactly what this game is all about and what our show is all about. Randell [Leoncio], the Navy Corpsman, his unit was hit by an IED and he lost his leg in the battle. He had his guys tie a tourniquet around it and he proceeded to crawl around to save his unit. They had to lie to him to get him on a Medevac to get him out of there and then they had to lie to him to get him to his Purple Heart ceremony. This is a guy who has given so much to his country and has never asked for a dime back. That is one thing I like about the people getting the money on our show. They are not victims with their hands out. Randell never asked for this and actually probably would have been embarrassed if he knew about it. There are people in his life who know he deserves it and, I think, that is what is spectacular about this show.

Are you allowed to say if someone makes it to the $250,000 grand prize?

Let me explain how it works. There are five rounds from $10,000 to $250,000 and the way it works is you will always make it to the quarter of a million dollar-round, but the question is, "How much will you make?" How much of that $10,000 or how much of that $250,000 will you earn? You start with $250,000, but then each clue will cost you a random amount of money, so the less clues you use and the luckier you are, the more money you will have in the bank.

One of the great things about this show is the $10,000 round -- whatever you earn from that round is yours and you can`t lose it. The question is: How much are we going to add to that? Then you move on to the $25,000 and $50,000 round and you are adding up money as you go. Then once you get to the $100,000 and $250,000 rounds at the end of the game, you are really playing for some serious money and, hopefully, just adding on. Like we saw with Randell, the woman playing for him went into the last round already with $100,000. So it is just how much are you going to add to that. I love how they made the game really to not are they going to win but how much are they going to win.

The surprise element seems to be a key part of the show. How are people reacting when Brooke Burns shows up?

I think one of the cool things about the way this show ends is we go in and surprise the person we have been playing for. They have no idea. They are at this hidden camera location -- at dinner or a movie theater -- and we go in and bombard them with friends and family. They are stunned. They have no idea. Then we come on a screen and explain to them, "I am here with your daughter and she just won you $100,000 or whatever dollars. It is very touching. It is moving. It is very emotional. It is kind of inspirational at the same time.

"You Deserve It" airs Monday nights at 9 p.m. on ABC. youdeserveit_chrisharrison_225_abc_richard_cartwright