Claim to Fame Hosts Kevin and Frankie Jonas Give All the Details on the 'Surprising' New Guessing Game
When Frankie Jonas got a call from ABC asking him to co-host their new series Claim to Fame — which will see 12 celebrity relatives each attempting to conceal their identity for a chance to win $100,000 — with his older brother Kevin, he had one question: "Are you sure I'm not supposed to be a contestant?"
After all, the Tik-Tok star, 21, knows a thing or two about being a celebrity relative: he grew up with Kevin, 34, and brothers Joe, 32, and Nick, 29, of Jonas Brothers fame. But it was exactly that unique perspective that the network thought made Frankie perfect for the hosting gig.
"I think I was able to really bridge this gap between Kevin and the contestants," Frankie tells PEOPLE. "They felt comfortable with me as a friend, where Kevin was more the host. For the contestants, I think it was really nice for them to have a voice on both sides."
Adds Kevin: "Frankie was able to really speak to the contestants and the players from his heart because he lived that life for a long time, being related to a group of guys in a band."
Plus, Frankie would've had a tough time concealing his identity as a contestant, considering that he has a following of nearly two million of his own on TikTok. He also grew up making appearances on his brothers' Disney Channel projects like Jonas and Camp Rock 2.
"Frankie's got his own insane following and fame that is probably cooler than ours," says Kevin. "But that's just Frankie being Frankie."
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Claim to Fame — which PEOPLE has an exclusive sneak peek of above — was filmed over the course of six weeks. During that time, the contestants lived together under one roof as they competed in challenges, hoping to keep their identities secret to avoid elimination.
"Claim to Fame has so many facets," Frankie says. "So much of it is about identity. So much of it is about this beautiful game that incorporates lies and deceit and amazing challenges. Kevin and I, the whole time we were filming, were shocked every single episode and so enthralled by everything that was happening. I think throughout this series there was only one time I said, 'I knew it!'"
Like the contestants, Kevin and Frankie were kept in the dark on everyone's identities, so they also got to play along.
"We were playing along just as much as the contestants," Kevin says. "So everything was surprising for us. At first, we were like, 'You got to tell us! We're not going to be able to do our jobs if you don't.' Then, we were like, 'You know what? It's going to be fun.' We were able to ask naïve questions to them in interview time and see how much we could pull out of them."
Maarten de Boer/ABC Kevin and Frankie Jonas
As the contestants got closer, the brothers say it got harder and harder for each person not to reveal anything too personal about themselves.
"The psychological side of it was real, because they're all people who can identify with each other," Kevin says. "So they have a kindred spirit, in a sense. As you build friendships and you get closer, it's really hard to remember that you're in a game and you're trying to win. It's really interesting."
If Kevin were to go on the show, he says, "I think I'd probably have to go full prosthetic, bring in the Hollywood makeup team and just become a different person."
Frankie, meanwhile, says he'd "probably have to do an accent, like a Southern drawl."
"I think that I would just end up telling everyone," he says. "I talk so much, so I would end up talking myself into a circle and telling everyone my secrets the moment I got there."
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Luckily, Frankie didn't have to worry about gameplay, but he does admit he was "terrified" to start filming as a host.
"This really was a first-time experience," he says. "Walking onto set, I was holding onto Kevin for dear life."
While filming with Kevin, though, Frankie says his "own confidence" slowly started to shine.
"It was really great to have Kevin there as my older brother, as well as my co-host," he says. "He was a mentor and a friend. He was so many things to me, as well as to the contestants. Being in the contestants' mindset also allowed me to learn and grow and blossom in my own confidence."
Kevin, meanwhile, was beyond impressed with his brother.
"He was absolutely amazing," he says. "The one thing about Frankie that we all love is he's always going to be himself, no matter what situation he's put into. And I think that's exactly why this worked and why he thrived in this environment."
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With the show being in the time slot after the new season of the Bachelorette, the brothers couldn't be happier.
"When we got to do some stuff with the Bachelorette, I screamed, like I got so excited," Frankie says. "I was yelling at the top of my lungs."
"It's pretty amazing that's going to be the lead-in to this show," adds Kevin. "It's going to be a very fun night of television."
Claim to Fame premieres July 11 at 10 p.m. EST on ABC.