Season 4, which premiered Tuesday night on BYUtv, features three new hosts and aims to be “bigger and better” than past seasons, “Random Acts” producer Tom Morrill said.
“You’re going to see a hot air balloon, a restored car, a baking show, a vintage train ride,” Morrill told the Daily Herald. “We’re bringing the outside to the inside of a basement and there might a safari.”
Previous hosts Emilie Starr and Will Rubio will return in “Random Acts” Season 4 with new hosts Mason Branning, who has previously worked behind the scenes and made occasional appearances on the show; Jenna Kim Jones, a stand-up comedian recognized as the host and narrator of “Meet the Mormons”; and Melanie Nelson, an actress from Utah who has performed in holiday Hallmark films including “12 Gifts of Christmas.”
Branning said when he became a production assistant years ago for “Random Acts,” a hidden-camera show that aims to highlight the good in humanity through surprise service and purposeful pranks, he never thought he’d be hosting the show one day.
“Slowly but surely, I became a little bit more adventurous, and I would peek my head in on shots, start doing some dances out in random places,” Branning told the Daily Herald. “Now I get to be in direct contact with these wonderful people who we get to do these random acts for.”
Jones said she had seen clips of “Random Acts” on her social networking sites prior to being involved with the show and felt excited, honored and flattered to become part of it.
“I knew what the show was, I knew what it did for people and the fun that it had,” Jones said. “I have two kids, and so it’s really important to me to create content that I know that they could enjoy, and I’m always trying to get involved in projects that are positive and happy and fun, but also funny and entertaining.”
Viewers can expect to see more of Branning’s dancing in Season 4 in addition to hearing him do a “really intentionally unintelligible Scottish accent,” he said. Viewers also will see the “Random Acts” team traveling a bit more and leaving Utah for some projects, according to Morrill.
“We’re getting more and more nominations out of state, and so it’s been a big pleasure for us to go out and try to spread the love beyond the borders,” Morrill said.
“Random Acts” has expanded over the years as more people have become aware of the show, offered to help, and nominated family members and friends in need, according to Morrill. He said 95 percent of the nominations they received in the beginning were in Utah, but the numbers are now even at about half within the state and half elsewhere.
Jones said the best part of hosting Season 4 was being able to surprise people who were “so deserving.”
“The families and the people that I was able to interact with, you just see that they’ve either been through a lot or have just faced so many different trials, whatever it was,” Jones said. “It was cool to see the moment, see their eyes light up or see that we were bringing them just a little bit of relief in their life. That’s really cool. You don’t get to do that very often in your everyday life.”
Duke said “Random Acts” hosts are unique for their level of emotional investment in the moving stories and amazing people on the show.
“I feel like you can look across the media landscape and see any number of hosts and they say their words and they do it with energy and enthusiasm, but this show really requires that that host really engage and engage emotionally and understand this person and really feel the situation that they’re in and what they’re up against and be able to do something special for them,” Duke said.
It’s hard to find a job “you just absolutely love all the time,” Jones said, but she found one in hosting “Random Acts.”
“I can say wholeheartedly that this job for me this season has been that,” Jones said. “I’ve enjoyed really everything I’ve done. I’ve met incredible people. My heart’s been touched.”
“Random Acts” is “unifying” for viewers and a “good thing to put out in the world,” according to Jones.
“We all kind of want the same thing and we all kind of desire the same things, and it doesn’t matter who you are. Let’s help each other,” Jones said. “It doesn’t matter what you think or look like or have or don’t have. Let’s just all work together.”
Duke said the show “hits the bulls-eye” of BYUtv’s goal to create positive, uplifting and purposeful programming for families.
“It’s such an honor to be associated with such a good thing,” Branning said.
Morrill said he is constantly surprised by the genuineness of the majority of people they come in contact with on “Random Acts.”
“That’s what we hope honestly is that that is the message that is propelled out there, that you go into the world and you don’t just look at your phone, but you see people that need help and you get out of your car and you help,” Morrill said. “You just be a better person and you do one more random act of kindness a day, no matter how simple it is, whether it’s a smile or opening a door or carrying someone’s groceries, but you just look for those opportunities. That’s what I hope to show though is that it’s inspiring people to do that one extra random act every day.”