Friday, December 19, 2014

More real estate gossip

Never knew there was real estate dish until I started collecting game show bits for this blog.

I've posted before about Craig Ferguson's Malibu house. So I might as well go to the opposite coast for Meredith Vieira's - remember her from Millionaire? - new penthouse in New York City.

The cost is a gentle $8.55 million. The apartment checks in at about 2,500 square feet. Which is less than our house, and we didn't pay quite as much as Meredith. Of course, we don't have a panoramic view of New York. But then we don't have to put up with New York, either.

Variety burbles about the "11-foot ceilings, herringbone pattern wood floors, onyx window sills and direct access to an approximately 550-square-foot-plus terrace." Those onyx window sills will cost you every time. One grievous downer: the bathroom attached to the office "appears in floor plan to this boozy property gossip to be barely wide enough for a runway model to turn her slim hips around."

Meredith is pretty slender, so she should have no problems with the dimensions. Variety also breathlessly informs us about Ms. Vieira's country estate on the Hudson and her L.A. pied-a-terre. Meredith did have a nice long run on that money-tree quizzer, so it's no surprise she's a multi-Millionaire.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The year-end approaches

It's getting near that time again, when people start making lists of the biggest game show stories of the year. On the board formerly known as Matt Ottinger's, they've already begun the chatter.

As so often happens on Game Show Forum, the thread soon runs into badmouthing and backbiting. But some decent ideas do emerge on the big stories of the year that was. My personal pick for number one would be the continued rise of Family Feud. Admittedly aided by Nielsen's double-counting tricks, Steve Harvey keeps building the ratings in his fifth season.

Other possibilities include the debuts of Celebrity Name Game and Sports Jeopardy, and new hosts Bill Bellamy and Terry Crews. When it comes to actual gameplay highlights, I'd give a nod to Ben Ingram upsetting Arthur and Julia in the Jeopardy T of C and Wheel of Fortune's third million dollar winner.

And there was the new guy on The Price is Right, James O'Halloran. Even though he's only the second and not the first.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

It's that schedule again

On Game Show Paradise, the usual complaint about not enough old stuff on GSN

Other poster: New PDF schedule for 12/29/2014 to 1/4/2015 is released...If you scroll down, you'll notice that Card Sharks and Press Your Luck will be airing five days a week. Yes, folks, that means that Throwback Thursday is done for as of January 1, 2015.

As I said on the blog, it's pretty hard to theorize about GSN's schedule from any one week. The thing bounces around from day to day and hour to hour, it seems. Maybe the oldies deal with Tylenol just ran out because the numbers weren't all that great. Maybe GSN is clearing space for the Bill Bellamy eps of Let's Ask America, which are supposed to show up on the schedule pretty soon.

GSN just had a blowout week with 383K/296K viewer averages prime time/total day for December 8-14. The network ranked 37th and 34th in the windows, which is very good by GSN's historical standards. The thing is, expectations for shows seem to be rising among GSN execs. American Bible Challenge may well be gone after getting 500K+ numbers in its third season. Not long ago, that kind of average would have guaranteed renewal. So it doesn't amaze me that much lower rated shows may not hang around forever.

The one sort of exception is when a particular sponsor is willing to make a big investment in some kind of deal. That explains the renewal of It Takes a Church with mediocre ratings. Christian Mingle is spending big money on the show and on GSN in general. Did Tylenol get tired of financing the oldies? I dunno, we'll see.

Wipeout is coming for you

The Price is Right sells out its live shows. So why shouldn't Wipeout hit the road looking for people who want to get battered and bruised?

Endemol is taking their "abuse 'em until they laugh" epic on the road to more than twenty cities in the U.S. and Canada. They're calling it WipeoutRun, which seems more with-it than Wipeout on the Road, I guess. There's a website and live sign-up locations for people who just can't wait to get big balled (see photo).

"Part of Wipeout's unique success is its ability to make people want to be a part of the experience," says an Endemol exec. I agree that somehow the show has hypnotized people into wanting broken bones, busted backs, and bashed behinds.

Now even more folks will get the chance to get the bejesus kicked out of them. Remember: "There is no shame in wiping out in style!" Or even wiping out like a schlub.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Just watched GSN's clip show with Ben Gleib, Game Show Flashback. You know what? I loved it.

And I'm one of those jaded game show freaks who have seen just about every clip on the show. But here's the thing. GSN knew that jaded types like me would be watching. So they surrounded the clips with dumb and dumber jokes from a bunch of comics who seemed to have wandered in off the street. It was all cheap and cheesy, and it worked just fine for our little genre. These are old game shows, for crying out loud. Everything should be cheap and cheesy.

Gleib stayed sarcastic and dourly aloof from the nonsense, as he should have. There was a pop-quiz commercial with Wink Martindale, who (yes) is still alive and kicking. Eric Estrada was in the commercial with him, and need I say more? There were more pop-quiz questions about game shows for jaded types like me in the audience. I got 'em right, which made feel insufferably smug.

All in all, I wish GSN would do a lot more clip shows like this one. Sure, you can only show Betty White destroying the toaster on Super Password once (with GSN's comics rooting her on). But you can crack wise about game shows forever.

Ratings: top three syndies bounce back

In the week of December 1-7 America recovered from its turkey torpor to watch Pat and Vanna and Alex and Steve again. The top three syndie game shows roared back with big gains. Sadly, Craig and Terry didn't join in. TV News Check has the household ratings...

Wheel of Fortune 7.1 - up ten ticks to lead all syndies
Jeopardy 6.8 - up a dozen ticks to close in on the soulmate
Family Feud 5.9 - up eight ticks
Millionaire 1.8 - flat and out of the twos (for good?)
Celebrity Name Game 1.2 - maybe flat, maybe down a tick, I'm not sure

Better viewer averages went along with the better ratings, says TV by the Numbers. Wheel of Fortune 12.2M again leading all syndies, Jeopardy 10.5M, Family Feud 8.7M, Celebrity Name Game 1.7M (from TV News Check). Alex got well into double digits.

TV Newser tells us that GSN scored big in the week of December 8-14. 383K/296K viewers prime time/total day. GSN ranked 37th and 34th in the windows, which is very good for our little game show network.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Still going to Vegas?

As a faux tweet noted, state lotteries are suspending ticket sales for their Monopoly game.

Sales just didn't meet expectations. Apparently the prizes were too small and the game too complicated to lure enough lottery players. The state lotteries say they will try to retool the game and bring it back in (they hope) a more salable format.

In case anybody was wondering, the TV game show part of the project will apparently go forward. Billy Gardell is still set to host the syndie Monopoly Millionaires Club from Vegas. The linked story says: "The TV game show portion of Monopoly Millionaires Club will continue along with travel plans for the 12 Maryland Lottery players who won trips to Las Vegas to be part of the show's taping."

I've never been a huge fan of TV game shows put on by state lotteries. They've tended to be dull giveaways that are light on skill and interesting gameplay. We'll see if this new syndie effort is an improvement.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Music in the air

Saw the screenshot on Game Show Confessions, and it got me thinking about game show music. They say Merv Griffin made a gazillion bucks from the Jeopardy think music. But I'll admit that I never much notice music on game shows, unless it's really obnoxious.

One exception is Swingin' Safari, the theme of the original NBC Match Game. (That was the ho-hum version of the show in black and white from the 1960s, before they tried humor.)

Bert Kaempfert's goofy little ditty sticks in my head and always makes me smile. The cover art for the song (see photo) is mildly risqué and definitely reflects a pre-PETA era.

The tune has attracted some surprisingly respectful criticism. calls it "one of the easy listening genre's most endearing recordings with the original LP being a collector's item." I happened to hear the theme again when I was snipping a screenshot for a faux tweet. As tedious as the original Match Game was, at least the theme song was catchy and fun.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Hacking Sony and the NFL

The Sony hack story has mostly been a bore for me. I don't care about Angelina Jolie and I never heard of Scott Rudin. But I did notice this gem from Deadspin about Sony's displeasure with NFL preemptions of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. Showrunner Harry Friedman got his knickers in a twist over how the CBS Thursday night football games would affect Sony's game show jewels.

The email chain sounds like business chatter I read all the time in my day job, though the language is more colorful in show biz. Probably the most interesting bit is this comment from Harry: "The impact on us from Thurs Night football is far greater than we were led to believe. We may need to move the Million $$$ winner episode to Wednesday, 9/17." That would be the third million dollar prize on Wheel of Fortune and, yep, it did get moved to Wednesday to avoid football preemptions on Thursday.

Grumble, grumble, CBS and the NFL. Just to show that no good deed goes unpunished, Jeopardy actually tried to support the CBS Thursday night games with a special NFL category that got worked into the show in a hurry. Friedman yelped about CBS's tepid response to the effort. "I also take issue with [CBS's] characterization that the NFL integration in Jeopardy! was just one category and didn't constitute 'going the extra mile'...We dropped everything to make this happen, and our clearance people worked through the weekend to meet the NFL's rigid standards...I'm not just angry. I'm offended."

I'm not angry or offended, just amused. By the whole debacle.