Monday, June 03, 2002

The Price is Right

One week ago today, on Memorial Day, I was in the audience for The Price is Right, and I must admit that it was a lot more fun than I expected. I haven't seen the show in years, and don't recall ever really getting into it, even in my pre-teen gameshow interest years (back then, I liked "Liars Club" and "The Joker's Wild" a lot more...). My friend Kris' grandmother (a fan of the show) was in town, and wanted to go, so there I was, ready for the excitement that I'd heard all about. I didn't realize what a big deal this particular game show is. I suppose it is because it is unique among the genre for offering the possibility of someone to show up early, wait in line, get into the audience, and get called down and win money right off the street. I understand that other game shows all require some sort of advance application and interview process, and as such they lack that immediacy.

I didn't realize the depth of that appeal - I met up with them in line at the CBS television center at 5:45am, and they, having been there since 2am, had 50 people in front of them! At 6:00, they open the gates and assign numbers to those in line - so that's it, by 6:00am whoever is going needs to be all in line together! Even then, there's another wait until 7:30 when official ticket numbers are issued (still not guaranteeing entrance to the show, but a good hoop to have cleared). After that you get a couple of hours off, where you can leave the lot and get ready for the rest of the big day. When you return, you line up again, and the producers make their way down the line, asking a couple of questions of each audience member. This is where they figure out whom they'll call down during the show, and it's hard to say what they look for, other than the obvious connection with the show's target audience. I knew that I was between the typical spunky-college-kid and middle-age-cornbelt-housewife zones of that demographic mix, so I wasn't counting on being called to "come on down."

That all went fine, than just another three hours of waiting, and it was into the studio for the show. I can tell that this is an economical show to produce, as most of the set and studio looks unchanged from the 1972 inception of the show. After Rod Roddy pumped up the audience, the show got going, and I was amazed at their efficiency. Even though the show is taped for future broadcast, they shoot it like a live show, and didn't do any re-takes or preliminaries. They just rolled, and got the one hour show taped in about an hour and fifteen minutes. Bob Barker was pretty funny, a guy who clearly knows his job is fairly secure for as long as he chooses to keep it.

So no, I didn't get called down, but I was sitting three rows back, right behind the left side of the podiums where the contestants bid. So I did get a lot of on-camera time (my blue and white shirt contrasted well with the predominantly orange around me). I did feel a little affronted when the guy one row behind me got called to "come on down", and I reached back to offer a "high five" (I'm not normally a high five person, but when in Rome...) and the guy left me hanging! I know he was focused on getting down the aisle, but my incomplete high five was captured for national TV.

You can watch me suffer this indignity when it airs next Monday, June 10th.


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