Thursday, August 21, 2014

Wedding bells

As Let's Ask America gets its first truly nationwide exposure on GSN, there's marriage news to report.

David Luea, the first contestant to cop the fifty grand top prize on the show, just got hitched to his longtime girlfriend Lisa Frausto. He proposed to Lisa after he won the money and she apparently accepted. May they live happily ever after. Or at least reasonably contented ever after.

Meanwhile, Let's Ask America is counting down to its third season with new host Bill Bellamy, starting September 8. The show is cleared in only part of the country, but it's beginning to move out from its Scripps station ghetto. I like the goofy surveys, and the show has picked up generally favorable notices from fans and critics.

Still don't know why they got rid of Kevin Pereira, though. I thought he was fine on the show. Oh well, congratulations to David and Lisa.

A slightly related note: I tried to post a comment (completely innocuous!) on Let's Ask America at BuzzerBlog and found out that I've been blocked from the site. Guess I'm dangerous or something (wink).

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

One of these things is not like the other

Anything can be compared to anything, but sometimes comparisons seem, let's say, a little odd to me. Like the one in the screenshot from Game Show Confessions.

For those who may have missed its oh so brief run, Million Dollar Mind Game was a quizzer imported from Russia without much love. The show lasted for six eps on ABC in the middle of Sunday afternoon. Network execs knew nobody would watch, so they buried the show in a ridiculous timeslot.

The problem with the quizzer was simple: it was just too flipping hard. Nobody could figure out the questions, least of all the (tiny) befuddled audience. The show also moved at an elderly snail's pace, and didn't offer a sliver of humor. What Idiotest has in common with it is beyond me. The GSN original is enjoyable, fast-paced and funny. You might call it the anti-MDMG.

I'll admit that I don't know about the theme songs. Game show songs don't make much of impression on me, except for Jeopardy's maybe. By the way, Idiotest continues to pull great 18-49 numbers for the old-skewing GSN. It's not doing bad in total viewers, either.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ratings: syndies slip and slide

T.S. Eliot was wrong. August is the cruelest month, at least for TV ratings. Syndie game shows felt the wrath of the summer sun in the week of August 4-10. They all slipped some, and Alex ended up in a dead heat with Pat and Vanna. But the big wheel spun ahead in viewer average. We'll start with the household ratings from TV News Check...

Wheel of Fortune 5.5 - down a couple ticks
Jeopardy 5.5 - down three ticks into the tie
Family Feud 4.4 - down a tick
Millionaire 1.9 - down a tick as Cedric slips out of the twos on his way to the exit

Only the top three made the chart at TV by the Numbers. The viewer averages: Wheel of Fortune 8.7M (weekend repeat 4.1M), Jeopardy 8.5M (weekend repeat 3.3M), Family Feud 6.4M. Not the best numbers but far from awful for summer.

With three originals doing solid business in first-runs, GSN enjoyed its best week in quite a while for August 11-17. 389K/272K viewer averages prime time/total day. The network ranked 41st and 40th in the windows.

UPDATE: The flush GSN renews a couple originals: The Chase and It Takes a Church. Twenty new eps for the first, eight for the second.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Hooray for what awards?

If you read this blog, you know about my cynical attitude toward show biz awards shows. But it's tough even for me to be cynical about an awards show I didn't know existed.

Anyway, I found out about the Creative Arts Emmys from Google news today. Seems that Jane Lynch won for "Host for a Reality Program Or Reality Competition." Except she really hosted a game show, Hollywood Game Night. But what the hey, she got a nice statue.

There were a bunch of other awards in a ceremony that apparently few attended and fewer watched. As far as I can tell, there was no TV broadcast and no interest from just about anyone. But why should I begrudge entertainers yet another night of self-congratulation?

Maybe I'll start my own awards show. It should attract as much attention as this Creative Whatever did. One correction: "An edited version of the ceremony will be broadcast Sunday, Aug 24 at 8/7c on FXM." So there will be a TV broadcast, after all.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Where they are now

A Huffpo writer tracked down three of the earliest Millionaire winners for some of the usual retrospective musings.

The three are John Carpenter, the first big winner ever, Dan Blonsky, the second guy, and Nancy Christy, a top prize winner on the syndie. The article makes a big deal of how a million dollars isn't such a big deal any more. They even post a chart of the ravages of inflation since the three won their money.

All the winners agree that security was tight on the set (a result of that little unpleasantness back in the 1950s) and that the money hasn't really been "life-changing." Not that the cash has been a burden. They all say the loot has made their lives more comfortable, but none of them have quit their day jobs. Which means that Carpenter labors at the IRS, Blonsky lawyers in Miami, and Christy teaches school.

They did learn one lesson: taking a chance can pay off. As Nancy Christy puts it: "Get out and take risks. Take a shot! What's the worst that can happen? Look what might happen."

Regis couldn't have said it better.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Mr. T

He's always been the second banana in game show history's most famous duo. Bill Todman was the guy who minded the books and negotiated the contracts for his famed co-producer.

On a slow news day I decided to look up more info about the less storied half of Goodson and Todman. First stop was Wikipedia, which raved about Todman's work to expand the operation beyond TV. I can well believe that Todman knew how to run a business. G-T never seemed to lack for funds.

I also found out that Todman came by his business smarts honestly, as the son of "legendary" accountant Frederick Todman. (Can accountants really be legendary? That's almost like a legendary actuary. Which seems, let's say, a little bit of a stretch to this humdrum actuary.)

Bill Todman died too soon at the age of 62 in 1979. Mark Goodson bought out his heirs, before the entire operation was sold after Goodson's death in 1992. Todman went into the TV Academy Hall of Fame in 2011.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Craig hosts everything

As if a game show this fall wasn't enough, Craig Ferguson will try another talker in fall 2015.

The Tribune Co., which can't get enough of Craig, will launch the chat fest on their stations and try to sell it to others. The project will target the access hour, which is unusual for a talk show, to say the least. But there are a lot more people watching earlier in the evening. So the potential for a nice payoff is undeniable.

Ferguson is already taping Celebrity Name Game, the game show due next month. The show has cleared just about everywhere in the country, so it definitely has a chance to succeed. With Millionaire fading, there's probably room for another syndie gamer. But there are no guarantees, of course, as anybody who's tried to launch a new syndie can tell you.

Ferguson's offbeat charm might work outside the late night ghetto. Or he might prove a little too coy for daytime and access. The test starts in a few weeks.