Friday, October 31, 2014

More stunts

With sweeps coming next month, Millionaire rolls out the stunts.

The biggest news has already broken: Ken Jennings will stop by for a crack at the money tree. That's part of a "Guinness World Record" week. We also have a kids week, a miscellaneous celeb week, and a daytime talk week (with Jerry Springer and the pictured Michael Gelman). I don't know if all this stuff will boost the numbers, but you can't blame the show for trying.

I've gotten used to the hyperactive Terry Crews as host of the show, but Nielsen seems less impressed so far. The numbers haven't cratered, but they've continued their long-term downtrend. Terry is lucky to hang in the twos in household ratings.

There's been some doom and gloom talk about the show in the entertainment media, but I don't know if things are really so dire. The show still averages nearly three million viewers, and in today's fractured TV universe, that's hardly a terrible number. Yes, the demos are less than spectacular. (Did I ever mention how I hate demos? You might expect that from a game show fan.)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Have we got a house for you

Somebody's always got an idea for a new game show. But this guy's idea goes beyond just a show. He wants a whole new cable network.

Bobby Atkinson, a former real estate broker from Minneapolis, wants to start a real estate network. Yes, you can argue whether the nation is ready for a network devoted to real estate transactions. But who knew there would be a network devoted to game shows?

Atkinson has lined up some big name investors for his venture, dubbed TREN ("The Real Estate Network," get it?) One of his ideas for programming is "a real-estate game show that would award winners a new home." You could call it Dream House, right? Oh, that name's already been taken. At least TREN would probably protect their show's tapes from floods.

Atkinson plans to buy a "distressed" cable net - he even speaks in real-estate-ese - and launch TREN in "early 2016." Good luck with finding buyers, er, viewers.

T of C

Jeopardy's Tournament of Champions, the one regular stunt on the show that I look forward to, will begin November 10. A sweeps period, not so coincidentally.

This story on Ben Ingram, one of the players, ends with a wry note. A game show fan once asked Ben: "Weren't you on Wheel of Fortune?" No, but you're kind of close. Ben says the T of C shows were taped in late September and early October. Naturally, he can't reveal any results, but he does make the obvious point that "these were solid gold players."

He also says that he was less nervous in the tournament than in his original eight-win run. Of course, the pre-tournament stars are Julia Collins, who outdid everybody except you know who in the winning streak department, and Arthur Chu, who outdid everybody in the Internet commotion department.

This site lists some likely players in the tournament. One note: Jerry Slowik won't turn up. He's had some legal problems.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

My personal marathon

A thread on Game Show Paradise asks: what was the last game show you watched? I posted a reply on the thread, but I'll update it here. Because today's answer is "a lot of them."

In fact, beginning at 4:00 PM I watched three hours of game shows. The list: a couple syndie eps of Deal or No Deal on GSN, Millionaire's repeat (which I hadn't seen), Jeopardy's repeat (the memorable episode that ended Julia Collins' run), Jeopardy's original, Wheel of Fortune, and Celebrity Name Game.

I had to flip back and forth between the last two. Wayne Brady had a funny moment on Celebrity Name Game, which I posted in the sidebar. Wheel of Fortune featured an eerily good contestant on a Halloween set. He solved the bonus puzzle with contemptuous ease. Too bad he only won the minimum $32,000.

I also learned that greed doesn't pay (sometimes) on Deal or No Deal, and even Julia really wasn't invincible on Jeopardy. By the end of the three hours, I had seen enough fun and frolic and games. But I'll watch again tomorrow.

One more thing: I watched 25K Pyramid in the morning. I'm hopeless.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Ratings: Steve ties Alex in household rating

Steve Harvey celebrated a milestone for the week of October 13-19. Family Feud tied Jeopardy in household rating. Since both shows have multiple runs each day, this is close to an apples-to-apples comparison. Alex did lead in viewer average, so I'll give him the tiebreaker. TV News Check has the ratings for all the shows and the viewer count for Celebrity Name Game, which I'll list later...

Wheel of Fortune 6.4 - flat
Jeopardy 6.1 - down a tick
Family Feud 6.1 - up three ticks into the tie
Millionaire 2.0 - up a tick in a bit of good news for Terry
Celebrity Name Game 1.2 - flat

Only the top three made the syndie chart at TV by the Numbers. The viewer averages: Wheel of Fortune 10.2M to lead all syndies (3.5M for the weekend repeat), Jeopardy 9.4M, Family Feud 8.9M, Celebrity Name Game 1.7M (from TV News Check). Sorry, don't have the count for Millionaire.

The new schedule helped GSN achieve respectable numbers for October, after a slow start to the month. 337K/266K viewer averages, 45th and 36th in the windows.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Hairy game show

Just watched one of the debut eps of Hair Jacked, truTV's entry into the pop culture game show wars. It's a combo of Hollywood Game Night and Cash Cab, with contestants ambushed in a hair salon.

Two unsuspecting civvies walk into a salon and get jumped (not literally) by host Jon Gabrus with a bunch of lightweight questions and silly stunts. The kicker at the end of the show is that the contestants can risk a wild and wacky haircut for the chance at some more cash. On the ep I watched, a guy with an unpronounceable Aztec name took a bizarre hair hacking for $2,500. He clearly needed the money pretty bad.

Jon Gabrus is no stranger to such ambush silliness, after his work on MTV's The Substitute. He runs the show well enough, with a quip or three to provide the required goofball atmosphere. Game show hardcores might complain about the points system, which makes all but the last round irrelevant to the final score.

But complaining about the scoring system on this show is like whining about the color of the napkins in a restaurant. Hair Jacked is in it for the laughs, not the points.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


I've been watching so many What's My Line videos, I almost forgot my first love among the black and white shows, I've Got a Secret.

So I rambled through some of the YouTube IGAS riches. So much video from the show has piled up on the site that YouTube's software has automatically generated an IGAS channel. One of the complete shows on the channel is the February 21, 1966 episode.

Steve Allen had taken over the host gig as the show wound down its CBS run. In fact, both What's My Line and I've Got a Secret would expire the following year, though both would also return in syndie and/or cable versions. There are even whispers of another syndie WML run in fall 2015.

Arthur Godfrey and Phyllis Diller guested on the episode, along with regulars Betsy Palmer and Bess Myerson. Godfrey had a great night, by the way. He guessed just about everything. Another regular, Henry Morgan, ambled in as the show went along.

The civvie contestants were a girl who sewed all the dresses for her adorably cute sisters and mother, and Henry Armstrong, a former boxer who held three world titles at the same time. The celeb player was none other than John Daly, who crossed over from the hoity-toity WML. He played an interesting game of guessing historical events from newspaper headlines.

The history lesson was a little highfalutin' by IGAS standards. But you would expect that from Mr. Daly, wouldn't you?

Numerical analysis

Believe it or not, there is a specific type of math called "numerical analysis." (Check the Wikipedia article.) I had to take an actuarial exam once on the topic. It was a thrill.

Anyway, this entry doesn't have anything to do with that subject. Instead, I'm going to look a little deeper at the Nielsen household ratings I report each week.

BuzzerBlog is gurgling with joy over Family Feud's rising ratings. Since the site often seems like a wholly owned subsidiary of Steve Harvey Enterprises, that's not surprising. But as a few commenters point out, the household ratings are "enhanced" by the multiple daily runs of the syndie show. Here in DFW, for instance, syndie Feud runs four times a day.

For Feud (and all syndies) Nielsen reports "Gross Average Audience" (GAA) ratings. Nielsen defines the term: "The sum of the percent of households or persons tuning or viewing during the average minute of each telecast of the program, including repeat telecasts during the report interval. Duplicated tuning and viewing to the same program (or its repeat telecast) by the same household during the report period is counted each time."

In other words, all those percents for each daily run of syndie Feud get piled on top of each other to produce the reported rating. Now Steve Harvey has helped the ratings a lot, no doubt about it. But number games help plenty, too, especially compared to Wheel of Fortune. Pat and Vanna only get one (1) daily run in their markets.

So take the BuzzerBlog hype with a metric ton of salt. Far more people are watching Wheel's single run each day than are watching any particular run of Feud.

Saturday, October 25, 2014


Just noticed that Game Show Garbage is trashing (natch) a low-rent YouTube version of Family Feud. It's on Fremantle's Buzzr channel at the site. So I decided to sample an ep to see if it justifies GSG's usual rhetoric about the end of western game show civilization as we know it. Well, yes and no and mostly no. Which sounds noncommittal, I know.

The problem with rubbishing the YouTube effort is that the format is just so ridiculously strong. It was Mr. Goodson's second favorite show (after To Tell the Truth, a bit strangely) and even a stripped-down version can't destroy the format's appeal.

The worst thing about the ep I watched was a screaming, incompetent contestant named Jess Lizama. Omigod, she's annoying. Host Josh Leyva did an okay job even if he couldn't keep his eyes off the camera. The other contestants were acceptable. Everybody was a "YouTube celebrity," which means nobody's heard of them.

Since this is YouTube, everything is cheaper and smaller with teams of three, only two rounds in the front game, and a combination fast money round for the two teams. But that's not necessarily a terrible thing. We're on YouTube time, after all, and it's nice to squish an entire show down to 8:14. And they use the original theme!

UPDATE: Reaction on the game show Interwebs is, of course, negative on the show. It's not like Dawson's version, after all. But the casual viewers on YouTube give the show thumbs up, by ratios of 10-1 to 15-1. Sound familiar? It's pretty much like the split in the reaction to the Harvey version.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Game show archeology

GSN can use any publicity it can get for its Sunday oldies. The ratings for the first try were awful.

That's why the network moved this Sunday's double run of Crosswits (1986) from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM. At least Sitcoms Online gives GSN a nod. The linked story lists all the celebs from the two episodes, headlined by Rosie O'Donnell, then a "rising new comedian," and Arsenio Hall in his first game show appearance. Joanna Kerns of Growing Pains also shows up.

This idea of dusting off little known relics from the vault might be good in theory. Game show hardcores, the folks who inhabit the Internet boards, have long complained that GSN doesn't show enough old stuff, and in particular rare old stuff.

The reason for GSN's omission is simple, of course. Ratings. The relics just don't draw much of an audience compared to, say, the 88th run of Harvey Feud. But once in a while GSN will sacrifice an hour to the hardcore game show gods. Just not in prime time.

UPDATE: A commenter points out that Arsenio made his game show debut earlier, on Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour. He's right, as YouTube shows.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Raining men

Seems like everybody has male models on the brain lately. On Game Show Confessions, a board that leans toward older-is-better, the TPiR guys get advised to watch old clips of Gregorio Gaviati and David Gibbs on Sale of the Century.

My own exposure to Sale is limited to just a few glimpses of the eps currently playing on GSN. I've seen the show described as the "thinking man's Let's Make a Deal." Well, you did have to answer general knowledge questions. Which does imply more cerebration than you'll normally see on LMAD.

As for the male models "interacting" with the prizes more on Sale than on TPiR, I dunno. You can only interact so much with a motorcycle that's just sitting there. Frankly, if the models just show off the prizes, it's okay with me. Sorry to be blunt, but the models (of either sex) are eye candy. Let's not kid ourselves here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

I need not apply

The Price is Right is starting the final countdown on its male model search. They didn't even ask me to participate. Don't they know how incredibly sexy 63-year-old actuaries are?

You can read the USA Today story for all the details of the hunky competition. The most humorous suggestion occurs at the end of the article. With Drew Carey down to a very svelte size, McPaper (old nickname) thinks he might make a good model himself. He's quick with a quip, after all.

TPiR's original male model, Rob Wilson, left the show last spring for the soapier environs of Days of Our Lives. The whole male model idea has taken on an xy-chromosome life of its own. I guess it's a gender equality thing, proving that men can smile and wave at the merchandise as well as those of the xx-chromosome persuasion.

Will they eventually have robot models? If TPiR hangs around long enough, the show might debut its answer to Jeopardy's Watson.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ratings: a bit of good news for Craig

Craig Ferguson got some badly needed good news from the Nielsen folks for the week of October 6-12. Otherwise it was flat to down for syndie game shows. TV News Check has the household ratings...

Wheel of Fortune 6.4 - down a tick
Jeopardy 6.2 - down a couple ticks
Family Feud 5.8 - flat, is this a blah week or what?
Millionaire 1.9 - down a tick for the put-upon Terry
Celebrity Name Game 1.2 - up a tick and Craig will take what he can get

Terry Crews did manage to make the top 25 list at TV by the Numbers, even if he slipped out of the twos in household ratings. The viewer averages: Wheel of Fortune 10.1M, Jeopardy 9.3M, Family Feud 8.5M, Millionaire 2.6M. Even in a blah week, the numbers for the top three look good compared to most broadcast and cable shows.

Speaking of broadcast shows, The Price is Right and Let's Make a Deal both showed nice year over year increases for the week of October 13-19. 5.3M and 3.2M viewers, respectively. Congrats to Drew and Wayne.

In the first week of the new schedule that has the game show Interwebs upset, GSN did great total day numbers. All that Harvey Feud all over the place didn't hurt at all. 345K/293K viewer averages prime time/total day for the October 13-19 week. The network ranked 41st and 32nd in the windows. The total day rank is as high as I can remember for GSN.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Mr. Monopoly comes to the blog

There's really no excuse for this blog entry, except I like the picture of Billy Gardell with Mr. Monopoly.

As readers of this blog know, Gardell will host Monopoly Millionaires Club, debuting in February in syndication and on GSN. A bunch of state lotteries are backing the project, and they started selling tickets today for a weekly Monopoly game drawing every Friday. So naturally they kicked off the festivities with a Times Square bash.

One thing is certain: the new game show won't scrimp on prize money. State lotteries are notoriously flush with cash. They rake in gazillions every week. I have no idea how interesting the gameplay on the TV show will be, but some contestants will no doubt go home a lot richer.

I also like the giant shoe Billy is holding. Though it seems a little big for the board, even if the board is jumbo-sized itself.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Happy new year 1965

Another slow news weekend, another trip to the YouTube What's My Line channel.

We're now into 1965 on the channel, with the January 3 episode. Yes, fans of the show can't avoid the grim knowledge that this is the last year of Dorothy Kilgallen's life. She doesn't look too fragile on this episode, though her appearance had been getting more worrisome for a while. Buddy Hackett is a guest panelist, and he's very funny on the ep. He's a little more restrained than usual, which works fine.

But semi-regular Martin Gabel gets off the line of the night, with a dig at wife Arlene Francis' expensive tastes. This leads to some marital sparring. The mystery guest is Jason Robards, and Buddy Hackett guesses him in a hurry.

A historical note: the first contestant is a young English woman named Sue Huxley. Martin Gabel wonders if she's related to the famous Huxley family, and she turns out to be the granddaughter of biologist Julian Huxley and the grand-niece of novelist Aldous Huxley. She's also about to marry an American. The panel stumbles around and never guesses that she breeds cattle.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

All in?

In 2011 GSN's High Stakes Poker succumbed to ever cheaper production values and the Feds' crackdown on online poker. The show was always a favorite of the poker media, and for quite a while garnered excellent numbers for GSN.

In fact, before Skin Wars came along, HSP was by far the network's most successful foray into non-traditional programming. Although the show was as close as you could get to a traditional game show without actually being one.

Now a couple poker sites are getting excited about a possible return of High Stakes Poker to our little game show network. I'm doubtful about the possibility, though I was always a big fan of HSP. Sure, GSN posted (and then took down) a video asking for input on the show. But market research doesn't necessarily translate to programming.

More importantly, the TV poker boom expired long ago as the novelty wore off and the Feds got cranky. Yes, GSN could always try to reflate this soufflé. At a time when a What's My Line remake may be in the works, anything might return from the television dead. But I'll believe it when I see the first flop.

Another bit of GSN news: the network has apparently dumped Shop Til Your Drop (no great loss, IMO) and replaced its weekday 5:00 PM runs with syndie Deal or No Deal. That's what the online schedule says, though I haven't gotten any new advance schedules. The network is always making last minute changes, as noted in the sidebar.

Friday, October 17, 2014


For all the arguments that people (including moi) have about them on the Internet, game shows are still fun.

Even the LA Times, not known for chuckles, gets into the mood with this sweet article on Let's Make a Deal's zonks and the guys who create them. Turns out that more than a little technical wizardry goes into those goofy things which show up when contestants least want them. There's even a $200 prize for the best staff-suggested zonk each season.

The chief zonk maker is a guy named Timothy Feimaster, who loves his work because he gets "to play with toys all the time." A team of specialists collaborate on building the bizarre contraptions, some of which originate from ideas submitted by the show's viewers.

If you're wondering how the show defines a great zonk, it's something that Wayne Brady, Jonathan Mangum and Tiffany Coyne can play with onstage. But they have to be careful. Sometimes the zonks get out of hand, like the "two-seater red helicopter car, on three wheels, with a propeller on top." Brady tried driving it but almost crashed the thing into the sound booth.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Old fave

Rambling through Game Show Confessions, I came across this reminder of one of my old favorites. Not only did it feature the super-competent Mark Walberg, but Russian Roulette offered the best contestant exits in the business.

There was also some trash talk between the contestants, a fearsomely dark set, and a bonus round to die for (and often to fall for). And yeah, the theme music was okay, too.

The show vanished after a couple seasons and never really prospered in reruns. It may have been a little too in-your-face for GSN's grandmotherly audience. But nowadays everybody seems to be looking for a game show format to revive in syndication. Well, the trapdoors are waiting.

Walberg would still be perfect as the host, and he could be available. They got him for that airplane show, after all. It's easy for me to bet other people's money on a game show venture, but Russian Roulette might prosper nowadays.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Syndie talk

A TV News Check story covers the field on current and possible future developments in game show syndication.

I learned some things I already knew, like a What's My Line remake may be in the works. And I learned a few things that surprised me, like Sony is pitching a syndie Mind of a Man. As badly as the show crapped out on GSN, I'm mildly surprised Sony is trying to sell it to anybody.

The story goes downbeat on prospects for Celebrity Name Game and Millionaire. Readers of this blog know that the weekly numbers haven't been thrilling for either show. But I wouldn't hang the crepe just yet. Let's give both shows a little more of a chance.

TV News Check also takes note of Monopoly Millionaires Club, due to arrive in February 2015 from a state lottery near you. The hour-long effort is sure to get some play on weekends, thanks to the big lottery money.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Ratings: top three syndies get happy

After a week in which almost nothing happened, the top three syndicated game shows all moved up nicely for September 29-October 5. Family Feud in particular jumped quite a bit. But whatever I do, I will never, ever, ever compare Steve Harvey's show to Match Game. Unless I want to. Anyhoo, TV News Check has the household ratings...

Wheel of Fortune 6.5 - up a couple ticks
Jeopardy 6.4 - up three ticks to almost catch the soulmate
Family Feud 5.8 - up seven ticks and you know what I won't compare it to
Millionaire 2.0 - flat
Celebrity Name Game 1.1 - flat

We all like to root for the underdogs, and I'm rooting for Terry and Craig. Hang in there, guys. At least Terry made the top 25 list at TV by the Numbers. The viewer averages: Wheel of Fortune 10.1M to lead syndies of all kinds, Jeopardy 9.7M, Family Feud 8.4M, Millionaire 2.7M.

Feud moved up to number five on the list (really number four if you ignore the absurd listing of Monday Night Football as a syndicated show.) The only real syndie that beat the top three game shows in household rating was Judge Judy. And she trailed Wheel and Jeopardy in viewer average.

Another source for game show ratings has emerged. Soap Opera Network promises The Price is Right and Let's Make a Deal numbers every week. This week's report was delayed a bit, but nobody's perfect. For the week of September 29-October 3, TPiR checked in with a 4.9M viewer average, with LMAD at 3.2M. Drew led all of daytime in total viewers and did pretty well in 18-49, too.

GSN perked up in the October 6-12 week. 347K/259K viewer averages prime time/total day. The network ranked 43rd and 37th in the windows. Better than the last few weeks.

Monday, October 13, 2014

On my soap box

A commenter took me to task for mentioning that the TV review board gives a TV-PG rating to both Match Game and Steve Harvey's Family Feud. I was lectured that I should NEVER compare the two shows.

Okay, I got a little hot under the collar when a guest on the blog SHOUTED at me about what I can and can't do on my own site. But just to expand my reply a little…

I don't have much use for the censorious types at the TV review board. I think they're a bunch of prudes wagging their fingers over what people watch in the privacy of their own homes.

I also agree that the TV-PG rating for Match Game is ridiculously harsh. But I think the TV-PG rating for Family Feud is ridiculous, too. These shows never feature any explicit sex or violence. They're both completely inoffensive compared to many other TV programs. If these shows are not suitable for general audiences, then general audiences are absurdly picky and puritanical. Which I don't think they are. I do think the TV review board is absurdly picky and puritanical.

As for comparing the two shows, they both use(d) mildly risqué material. Big deal. I have little patience with people claiming to get Victorian-style vapors over such tepid content.

COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT UPDATE: In today's earthshaking game show news, Alex Trebek shaved off his mustache. And Jeopardy, to everybody's relief, is still rated TV-G.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Dishing on real estate

Never knew there was such a thing as real estate gossip.

I always thought the dish industry ran on sex and, well, more sex. Little did I suspect that real estate deals could set the pulses of gossip consumers racing. But Variety breathlessly announces deep-real-estate-throat sources Yolanda Yakketyyak and Lucy Spillerguts have tattled that Celebrity Name Game's Craig Ferguson, gasp, bought a house.

It looks to be a nice Malibu property that cost Mr. Ferguson $5.6 million. Variety tells us that he paid the money through a blind trust. Such legal details also get dishy notice, I guess. The show biz rag hints that Craig might have paid a bit too much. After all, the house moved just a year ago for a mere $4.5 million.

Variety also unleashes thrilling details of other Ferguson real estate deals. I got all hot and sweaty over the "secluded, Craftsman-style compound in the Bronson Canyon area of the Hollywood Hills." But that house only set Craig back $4.1 million.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Before there were boy bands

The October 18, 1964 episode of What's My Line just turned up on the show's YouTube channel. It's memorable for all sorts of pop music reasons.

First, then teen heartthrob Paul Anka was on the panel. He'd done a mystery guest turn before on WML, and they apparently thought he was alert enough not to embarrass himself as a questioner. He did okay, in fact, though he didn't guess anybody.

But he did recognize the first guest, the Beatles' semi-legendary business manager Brian Epstein, and disqualified himself. The panel zeroed in on Epstein quickly, and Dorothy Kilgallen endorsed the Beatles as "so sweet and funny and cute." She was probably a Paul McCartney fan. He was (is) the cute one, after all.

Just to keep the crooners coming, the mystery guest was the permanently established institution, Tony Bennett. A little hard to believe, but Mr. Bennett is still singing his songs at age 88. He cleverly used his hands to make a sort of echo chamber for his voice, and that was enough to fool the panel. They had previously been guessing everybody in a hurry.

Friday, October 10, 2014

GSN hearts Steve

Got a couple new schedules from GSN for the current week (Oct 6-12) and next week (Oct 13-19). They’re in the sidebar. Basically, it’s Harvey Feud and more Harvey Feud and more Harvey Feud after that. Plus an emphasis on anything which skews slightly less geriatric than usual.

Naturally, the new schedule brought wailing and gnashing of teeth. A typical complaint and my response...

Another poster on Game Show Network News: This could actually be a hoax, considering the schedule for October 20-26 has not changed and if GSN did this, it could be their worst decision ever. Of course, this could just be for one week, but it would still be stupid.

The reason the schedule for Oct 20-26 hasn't changed is that GSN hasn't gotten around to sending it out yet. Sooner or later it will arrive.

Gotta admit, I don't look at the schedules all that closely any more. But when I saw this one, I thought, wow, GSN wants to p.o. the game show Interwebs. Of course, the heavily traditionalist game show Interwebs don't matter at all in the real world.

What truly matters are ratings, and GSN is going big with their best ratings-getter, Harvey Feud. They're also trying to get a little younger in the demos, where they skew near death.

One other thing: if you look at GSN's latest averages (for the Sept 29-Oct 5 week) the reason for all the changes will hit you right between the eyes. The week was easily GSN's worst-rated in quite a while. So Steve to the rescue, plus they're clearing out a lot of poorly performing losers.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The media conglomerate grows

Maybe Steve Harvey should just take over the world. He's already taken over the media.

Steve's latest project is a dating site called Yes, the title sounds cloying but what they hey. The guy makes everything work, regardless of cutesy monikers.

The site is a joint venture with the Match Group, and Mr. Harvey has awarded himself the position of Chief Love Officer. I'm just reading the press release, folks. Steve will provide advice to the lovelorn on the site. He's already got ten tips for online dating, which include bringing back chivalry. Okay, I'll try to be a more chivalrous guy, though I'm thoroughly married and won't be using the site's services.

I'm starting to wonder how Steve Harvey finds the time for all his jobs. He did abandon stand-up comedy, at least temporarily, so I guess that even his days only have twenty-four hours and his weeks only have seven days. As long as he shoehorns Family Feud into his schedule, Fremantle will be happy.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Pat goes bowling

Just finished watching Pat Sajak's six thousandth and something Wheel of Fortune. But a long time ago, Mr. Sajak hosted another game show...once.

It was College Bowl in 1984, a one-shot run of the game on NBC as a "30th anniversary special." The link comes from a Facebook page that tracks the history of the fabled college quizzer. The writer says that Pat goofed up in some godawful way while he was hosting the show.

If you asked me how he goofed, I'm afraid I can't tell you. The only surviving video of the show (warning: very poor visual and audio quality) starts after he "infamously messed up." On the part of the video that we have, Pat doesn't mess up at all. In fact, he runs the quizzer quite well, thank you.

A quick jaunt through Google doesn't reveal anything more about the Sajak Screwup. But it does produce a lot of bitching about controversies and allegations of skulduggery of one kind or another on College Bowl. At least nobody accuses Pat Sajak of anything untoward in that regard.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Ratings: syndies barely budge

Talk about a non-event. Syndie game shows hardly moved in the week of September 22-28. The only real news for the week was the debut of Celebrity Name Game. In all honesty I was hoping for better ratings for the lively Pyramid knockoff. But the numbers are what they are. TV News Check has the household ratings...

Wheel of Fortune 6.3 - flat
Jeopardy 6.1 - flat
Family Feud 5.1 - flat, seeing a pattern here?
Millionaire 2.0 - up a tick, a big move for this week
Celebrity Name Game 1.1 - at least it got into the ones

Craig Ferguson is up against very tough competition in many markets. In my home DFW area he's pitted against Wheel and Millionaire. And he's on the CW station, not the highest rated outlet to begin with. He faces similar problems in many other locales. Good luck, Mr. Ferguson.

Terry Crews snuck onto the top 25 list at TV by the Numbers. The viewer averages: Wheel of Fortune 10.0M (leading all syndies), Jeopardy 9.4M, Family Feud 7.3M, Millionaire 2.7M. I'm feeling a little better about Millionaire this week. Hope the show can hang on in the twos.

GSN stumbled to its worst numbers in quite a while for the week of September 29-October 5. 303K/232K viewer averages prime time/total day. The network fell to 47th and 45th in the windows. The Sunday rarities on October 5 sure didn't help.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Pass it on

Rumors, we get rumors. Especially about GSN, the network for anything sort of close to a game show.

One rumor seems pretty solid. Danica McKellar (Wonder Years, for you classic TV fans) is hosting a pilot for the network. Nothing else is public, and Danica is only dropping vague hints on her Twitter feed. But ABC and the Wall Street Journal and other fuddy-duddy sources are reporting that she's been hired, so who am I to quibble?

Another rumor is a revival of GSN's version of Chain Reaction, after the network has ground the show's original two seasons into extremely fine dust. The show has always gotten numbers in the afternoon, so maybe GSN has decided to churn out a few more eps. They're bringing back Baggage, after all.

The weirdest rumor concerns alphabetical order (no lie). GSN has started showing some oldies on Sunday night. The shows so far: All-Star Secrets, Babble and Crosswits. So people are actually speculating on the game show Interwebs that the next Sunday oldie will start with a D. Debt? Double Dare? Don Adams' Screen Test? Don't ask me.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Before they were whatever they are

A site called Madame Noire gathers the usual clips of celebs on game shows before they were famous. In fact, they cheat a little with Billy Crystal on Pyramid and other game shows. Sorry [insert annoying buzzer sound from Family Feud], Billy was not an unknown civvie at the time. He was a fairly well-known comic doing lots of game shows as a celeb contestant.

One of the Madame Noire clips is the classic video of Vanna White failing to get off contestant's row on The Price is Right. Vanna wore a skin tight t-shirt to display her assets, and Bob Barker took note. Given what would eventually occur in various legal proceedings, Barker's comment can't help but sound vaguely ominous.

One of the few clips I wasn't familiar with was Joey Fatone's childhood turn on Nick Arcade. He still looks like Joey Fatone, only a lot younger and a lot skinnier. This is how you begin the road to announcing Family Feud. Another clip shows Brad Garrett on Hot Potato. Like Billy Crystal, Brad was a celeb contestant, not an unknown civvie. And the site gives game show fans a cruel cut by dismissing cult favorite Hot Potato as "long forgotten." That hurts.

Another odd note: the site states that it targets a female audience with "the latest in fashion trends, black entertainment news, parenting tips and beauty secrets." Hm, sounds a little like a recent Jeopardy category. Watch out for the p.c. cops.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Wheeling and dealing

What does any self-respecting game show need? A big wheel, of course.

So Let's Make a Deal went out and built one. It's a roulette wheel, in fact, and it will give some lucky or unlucky contestant the chance to win a car, or a zonk, depending on whether the contestant is fortunate or not. The wheel looks pretty impressive, but it's not going to make anybody forget Pat and Vanna's. The wheel game is called "Accelerator," by the way, which makes sense for a car game.

Among other items on LMAD's blog is some self-congratulation over going to high definition at long last. Not sure exactly what took them so long, but they've finally caught up with the 21st century. The blog also mentions, not so incidentally, the show's record viewership in the 2013-14 season.

Oh well, when you've got things to congratulate yourself about, why not talk them up? The latest version of Let's Make a Deal has come a long way from its origins as a cheap substitute for CBS soaps. The show has settled into a nice long run.

Friday, October 3, 2014

More nights

NBC has renewed Hollywood Game Night for a third season of ten episodes.

The show isn't breaking any Nielsen records, but it's low-cost and provides nice schedule filler. The linked story makes a big deal out of the show's live plus seven day ratings, which really aren't that great. But nowadays a broadcast network show doesn't have to get ginormous numbers to survive. Especially when it's as cheap as game shows notoriously are.

One other ratings note: the show apparently outperforms slightly among 100K+ income households. I thought game shows were low-rent and downscale and all those other déclassé things. Since when did affluent types get interested in silly little games? (Just kidding. Silly little games are for everybody. Just ask the silly little game players.)

Hollywood Game Night is fun and breezy, even if the pop culture emphasis gets wearying sometimes. May the show keep getting renewals for its goofy games.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Pass Go and collect money

A bunch of states will soon start selling lottery tickets for their Monopoly game. The tie-in with our little genre is the TV show Monopoly Millionaires Club, set to debut in February 2015.

The linked press release gives a few details about the show hosted by Billy Gardell of Mike and Molly fame...
Contestants on the show will be selected at random from the audience to play a series of games, each with a Monopoly theme, each of which will offer cash and other prizes valued up to $100,000. A final round will offer one player on each episode a shot at $1 million. More than $2.5 million in prize money is available to win on every episode.
Sounds like money galore, which makes sense for a lot of state lotteries. Your guess is as good as mine on how interesting the gameplay will be, or how closely the show will be tied to the actual board game. My wild blue conjecture is that not much if any of the board game will show up on TV. It's a little hard to imagine contestants sitting around a table, buying property and putting up hotels for three or four hours.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

What Jeopardy wanted

An odd (and planned?) rumpus has erupted over a Jeopardy category.

It happened on Monday's game. The category was "What Women Want." As soon as I saw it, I thought: "Uh-oh. The p.c. police will be out in force." In fact, most of the clues were pretty innocuous. Tea, pilates, that sort of thing. But one of the clues got a little testy. "Some help around the house; would it kill you to get out the Bissel Bagless canister one of these every once in a while?" Actually, I thought this clue was a tad sexist, only in an anti-male direction. It played up the stereotype of the lazy slob guy who never helps his put-upon wife or girlfriend.

Naturally, the p.c. police didn't spot this anti-male angle. Instead, the cops got exercised about the supposedly anti-female content in the category. Most of the time Jeopardy is feminist to the max. A recent "Mrs. Warren's Profession" category puffed feminist icon Elizabeth Warren, for instance.

My sneaking suspicion is that it was all a Jeopardy plot to get some Twitter action. The cliché is true: there's no such thing as bad publicity. For years Family Feud has been ginning up controversy with somewhat off-color material. I don’t expect Jeopardy to go in that direction, though.