Pickleball, Colbert, other stars team up for charity special

The pickleball craze is getting the Stephen Colbert treatment, with charity the winner.

Colbert will host CBS’ “Pickled,” described as a sports-comedy special centered on a celebrity pickleball tournament. Among the players: Dierks Bentley, Will Ferrell, Emma Watson, Daniel Dae Kim, Max Greenfield, Luis Guzman, Sugar Ray Leonard, Tig Notaro and Kelly Rowland.

Colbert and Kenny Loggins will join in a national-anthem duet for the two-hour special airing at 9 p.m. Eastern Nov. 17 on CBS. It will stream live and on demand on Paramount+.

“If you love pickleball and you love celebrities and you love helping people, you’re going to love watching these celebrities help people by playing pickleball,” Colbert said in a statement Wednesday. The host of CBS’ “The Late Show” will bestow the Colbert Cup.

Teams will compete to benefit nonprofit Comic Relief US, with viewers asked to contribute in support of programs that “address the life-altering impact of homelessness, rootlessness and lack of safety often experienced by children and families living in poverty,” the group said.

Cari Champion, John Michael Higgins and Bill Raftery will be among the announcers providing color commentary. Other players include Jaime Camil, Phil Keoghan, June Diane Raphael, Paul Scheer, Aisha Tyler, Jimmie Allen and Murray Bartlett.

The special is from Colbert’s production company, Spartina, the independent studio Funny Or Die and CBS Studios. Funny or Die CEO Mike Farah said the goal is to support Comic Relief US and “add more articles about pickleball to everyone’s newsfeed.”

Pickleball, played with paddles on an indoor or outdoor court, has exploded in popularity in recent years. Groups that foster the sport include USA Pickleball, the International Federation of Pickleball and the World Pickleball Federation.

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