Thursday, July 20, 2017

Taxman cometh

Google News coughs up another comment on that perennial favorite: do I have to pay taxes on my game show winnings?

The short answer is HEY YES. The government always wants your money, now. Just because the moolah comes from a game show doesn't mean squat to them. Pay up, sucker.

The linked story says that game shows will allow contestants to refuse merchandise prizes if they don't want the tax burden. I think that's generally true except for trip prizes, which shows insist you take. Something about hotels wanting the occupancy.

There's another way out. Canada doesn't tax winnings on Canadian game shows. So maybe you can fool the IRS by using the term "hoser" and pronouncing "about" in a funny way. (I really don't think this will work.)

Finally, you can give prizes away - at least up to a certain limit - to dodge taxes. But giving away prizes sort of defeats the whole purpose, no?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Scrabble, call home

Beat Shazam knocked off Name That Tune to find decent success on Fox. Now Words With Friends will try to knock off Scrabble and find decent success somewhere on TV. MGM TV is developing a game show based on the wordplay app. Wikipedia delicately says the Win With Friends app is "similar to the classic board game Scrabble." We'll see how closely the TV show based on the app resembles the old Chuck Woolery chestnut.

Truth be told, I have an undying fondness for the old Scrabble game show, which found a place in my recent top 50 list. Maybe MGM TV couldn't get the rights to the Scrabble name, so they found the next best thing in Words With Friends. GSN tried a couple pilots for a Scrabble revival, but neither got to air.

Apps seem to be the natural source of game show formats lately, with Candy Crush also joining the TV fray. Can Minesweeper be far behind? (That's a joke. Minesweeper wouldn't make much of a TV game show unless it had literal explosions. Oops, I shouldn't give anybody ideas.)

No word on when we might expect Words With Friends on our big-screen TVs. There's not even a hint of which network might be interested in the project. But they've got to fill the summer months with something.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Ratings: bad week for syndies

There wasn't much good news for syndie game shows in the July 3-9 week. You don't expect the balmy summer months to produce great numbers, and you won't be surprised. TV News Check has the gloomy household ratings...

Family Feud 6.0 - down a couple ticks, but adding up all those daily runs kept it in first place
Wheel of Fortune 5.1 - down a couple ticks to a season low, but at least it climbed into a second place tie
Jeopardy 5.1 - down four ticks into the tie with the soulmate
Millionaire 1.6 - flat
Celebrity Name Game 1.1 - flat as the shadows lengthen

TV Newser likes all the good news it can find for MSNBC. So it published both total viewer and 25-54 viewer numbers for the July 10-16 week. As a side benefit, we got a little extra info about GSN. The network scored 361K/269K total viewers and 103K/65K 25-54 viewers prime time/total day.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Unsolved mystery

Game Show Forum spotted an odd item on eBay: an apparently long lost Goodson-Todman pilot called Make Your Move.

The same name as the TPiR pricing game is purely coincidental. Matt Ottinger is running a crowdfunding effort at GSF to buy the film. There's lots of speculation in the Game Show Forum thread about the host, the players, the date, most everything else. The eBay page offers only a few tantalizingly fuzzy screenshots (like the one presented here) to feed the conjectures.

No surprise, but the GSF thread eventually runs off into a flame war. It looks like the posters have gotten the money together, though, so I guess Matt will bid on the film. He probably won't have much competition. No bids have come in since the film went on sale July 12.

A long lost G-T relic would be interesting, in any case. It looks like the film will be exclusively Game Show Forum property for at least a while. The flame war erupted when somebody hinted at putting the film on YouTube. The word "douchey" got a workout.

UPDATE: GSF won the auction for the film. (The competition was not intense.) We'll see if the show ever surfaces on YouTube or another site.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Behind the crush

I've never cared much about game show sets. They could play Jeopardy in a bare concrete room, and I wouldn't mind. But a site called Newcast Studio, "the trade publication for TV creative pros," offers an interesting story about the massive Candy Crush set.

There's a bit of puffery involved. The linked story tells us that the set involves "some sweet technology, a dash of imagination and a sprinkling of whimsy." The production designer is a guy named John Gilles. The story praises his "two-story castle-like structure built from a slightly rough material that mirrors the look of poured concrete with a hint of sand castle."

Now that I look at it, maybe the set does look a little like a sand castle (see the screenshot). There's much more about every aspect of the set, including the "candy-cane striping" and "layered sculptural walls with integrated accent lighting." Ain't no lighting like integrated accent lighting.

If a show's gameplay stinks, no set can help much. But I like the gameplay on Candy Crush, so I can accept the sand castle.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

MTV plays it safe

Whatever anybody says about MTV - and plenty of trash has been talked - they do make it easy to watch episodes of their shows on their web site.

You just have to sit through some commercials, but a dollar is always a dollar. Especially for Viacom. So I stopped by the web site and watched the debut ep of SafeWord, the remake of the Brit format. MTV followed the original pretty closely. Celebs - in this case, Kevin Hart and Damian Dante Wayans - tried to embarrass each other. If they couldn't stand the pain, they yelled - you guessed it - a safe word.

Needless to say but I'll say it anyway, this was more improv comedy than game show. I suspected a lot of scripting, just as on the Brit version. Still, the format did have some gameplay rattling around the soundstage.

My main gripe was all the laughing at stuff that deserved not quite so many chuckles. But MTV probably required laughs at gunpoint from the studio audience. (All right, I really don't mean that.) Terrence J, a.k.a. Terrence Jenkins, hosted with lots of laughs himself, so he fit right in.

The show did okay numbers for MTV. 780K viewers and a 0.34 18-49 rating. The usual story for MTV: modest total viewer numbers but good (that is, young) demos.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Furniture history

Ran across a charming bit of pop culture history in Google News today. It's all about furniture and I've Got a Secret.

It turns out that the Daystrom furniture factory in Olean, NY made the chairs that the IGAS panel sat on for several years. A lady named Bertha Pierce who worked in the factory recognized the chairs when she was watching the show. So she wrote to the producers, and they decided to bring her onto the show as a contestant. Her secret, naturally: "I built the chairs that this panel sits on."

Wouldn't you know, Lucille Ball was a guest panelist that night, and her hometown was Jamestown, NY, which happens to be close to Olean. Lucy didn't guess the secret but she did get a laugh out of the word "tangible." Regular panelist Jayne Meadows finally guessed.

The Daystrom plant in Olean closed in 1962 and the company moved to South Boston, VA. The linked story says that "Daystrom pieces can now be prized examples of 'mid-century modern' furniture, offered on Ebay and other home collectibles websites." The story's right about that.

A few other notes. The entire IGAS episode is available on YouTube. You won't ever see it on Buzzr thanks to the Winston ads. And the linked story quotes Garry Moore addressing Bertha Pierce as "Ms. Pierce." As the video shows, he actually called her "Miss Pierce," of course. "Ms." is an obvious, clanking anachronism for the 1956 show. But I guess the site's p.c. manual requires it.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

More Shazam

It's not easy being green, or getting a renewal when you're an original broadcast game show. But The Wall survived to a second season, and now so has Beat Shazam. Fox has re-upped the app-based music fest.

I said it's an original game show, but Beat Shazam is really a kind of reboot of Name That Tune. Still, they didn't have mobile apps back then, so I guess we can call this a new format. The show has drawn decent numbers, and Fox particularly likes its social media presence. They didn't have social media back in the Name That Tune days, either.

I think the show is surprisingly watchable, though the guest stars seem a little superfluous. But the names might bring in some viewers, and that's what counts with the Nielsen Company. There's no word on when the second season will debut, though Jamie Foxx will return as host. There's also no word on a renewal for Love Connection, which has lagged behind Beat Shazam in the ratings.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Ratings: Wheel slips into third

TV News Check made a big deal about Wheel of Fortune finishing third among syndie game shows for the week of June 26-July 2. Of course, the comparison is unfair because Wheel only has one daily run, while other game shows (Family Feud in particular) get to add up their ratings from two or four or more daily runs. But who said life is fair? The household ratings...

Family Feud 6.2 -down a couple ticks
Jeopardy 5.5 - flat, so it slips ahead of the soulmate
Wheel of Fortune 5.3 - down a couple ticks into third place
Millionaire 1.6 - down a tick, it was a generally bad week
Celebrity Name Game 1.1 - up a tick in a bit of sadly meaningless good news

The early news is so-so on iWitness. It got an overall 1.0 household rating in seven markets for its debut on July 10. But the New York City numbers were better at 1.3 over July 10-11.

UNRELATED UPDATE: As anybody who reads this blog knows, several trolls from (yeah, it still somehow exists) have bombarded the blog with nonsense and spam for weeks now. Much of their stuff is about excrement. That's not surprising because their board has an endless supply.

As a result, I've had to put comments on moderation. I know this is an inconvenience for my regular commenters. I enjoy your remarks and will review moderation requests several times a day. It's too bad that a few fools can make life a little more difficult, but what can we do?

MTV fun and games

Fear Factor produced nice numbers for MTV, so our ex-music-video channel has set a few more game shows for the summer.

In addition to the already announced SafeWord, a Dating Game descendant hits the screen with MTV Undressed. No, we don't get to strip MTV itself. Can a cable channel get naked, anyway? This dating epic features contestants undressing each other while "answering questions and performing simple challenges." Do the simple challenges include unhooking a bra? Eventually the two disrobers decide to break up or hook up. Sweet, no?

The pictured Rob Drydek is the showrunner for Win Big, a hundred grand game show that tries to break a cable budget by helping "young people take life to the next level." Not to mention their bank accounts to the next week. There aren't any other details, and Win Big is only a "working title," as opposed to a lazy title.

MTV Undressed debuts August 16. There's no date for Win Big except "September 2017." That means any one of thirty days, though I wouldn't bet on Labor Day.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Kids vs. clock

A casting call has gone out for a kids version of Beat the Clock, taping in LA this September.

There's no word on which network is running the project. I've seen speculation on the game show Interwebs that NBC's renamed Universal Kids will be the outlet for the show, but nobody seems to know for sure.

Even by the standards of the current reboot mania, BtC is a venerable franchise. It dates all the way back to the B&W era: March 23, 1950 on CBS. It's so old, it's older than me by more than a year. Ancient history, friends.

As the Wikipedia link recounts in detail, the show's been through a bunch of rewinds over the decades. "Stop the clock" got to be a catchphrase back in my misspent youth. Beat the Clock looks like an ideal stunt format for kids, especially if they can work green slime into the proceedings.

We'll see what becomes of the project. I'd say it has a reasonable chance for success.