This doesn’t go under the “What Went Wrong” category because nothing really went wrong. Today, I’m interviewing production assistant Erin Perry, daughter of the legendary Jim Perry.
She’s not working in TV now, she’s all the way in Europe with a music career. I had the pleasure of interviewing her over Facebook.
Greg Palmer: Hi, Erin. First off, your dad’s Jim Perry, a man I respect and admire. A very nice man, he even sent me a few e-mails. I know you’re not truly involved in game shows now, but at one point you were. I think it’s pretty safe to say that you had a pretty normal childhood. I assumed the same of Gary Dawson. Am I right? Sid Caesar didn’t drop by often?
Erin Perry: It’s difficult to say what kind of childhood I had, as I only have my experience and I cannot compare to another child’s, but I would imagine mine was pretty normal -thanks to great parents. I don’t think I ever met Sid Caesar – if I did, I was too young to remember.
GP: Now, according to your IMDB page, you were a production assistant on the Perry version of Card Sharks. I gotta ask, was this some sort of family project? How’d you get involved in this project?
EP: Yes, I was a PA on Card Sharks. As my father says, he got me the job / foot in the door, but I kept it AND ended up getting hired by the producers of Match Game, where I also worked as a PA.
GP: What exactly did you do on the show?
EP: As Production Assistant, I did various jobs on the show… I started off answering phones at $5 per hour … booking people appointments to try out to be a contestant. I would show up on the set (unpaid) and get coffee and do whatever I could do to be useful and literally one day someone got in an accident so I filled in for them … after that day, I also had a position on the set.
GP: Now, when they had the Game Show Host Tournaments, you were surrounded by legends. Allen Ludden, Alex Trebek, Bill Cullen, etc. What was that like?
EP: Surrounded by stars/legends .. yes, that was part of my life, but I quickly learned that star or no star, they are all just people 🙂
GP: For some odd reason, Card Sharks was cancelled in 1981. I just can’t figure out why. Certainly it wasn’t the format. It wasn’t your father. I’ve asked this question countless times, and the common answer always seems to be ratings. In your opinion, Erin, what went wrong? Was it the ratings?
EP: Yep, ratings got the show cancelled. It had something like a 4 year run – not bad at all.
GP: I believe I know why your dad didn’t get the job with both the network and syndicated versions of CS in 1986. He was too busy with Sale. Did you try to get a job in the ’86 version with Bob Eubanks?
EP: If memory serves me, my father was hosting Sale of the Century when they brought Card Sharks back and contractually probably could not host another show. Time would also be a factor, because at some time or another he was also hosting [the] syndicated version (I think). [He was, Erin.]
GP: The next facet of your short career is with The $25,000 Pyramid.
EP: I would not call my TV career short .. I started as a PA at Goodson-Todman Productions in 1978 and when I left TV, it was 1999 – more than 20 years 🙂 By the time Dad was hosting Sale of the Century, I was working on 25K Pyramid. I started as PA and by the time the show was cancelled, I was the Associate Producer. I later became Co-Producer of $100,000 Pyramid. I do not recall if this was the same time Dad was still doing Sale.
GP: Your dad did a pilot for Bob Stewart in 1982, it was called Twisters. Did that show help you get where you were as a part of the production staff?
EP: Twisters was one of many pilots that I had the pleasure of working on with Bob Stewart – a brilliant creative funny man. I had been working with Bob for a number of years by the time my father was hired to do the pilot. It was a pleasure to work with my father again … a consummate professional.
GP: Working with Dick Clark, I can imagine that you had a pretty easy time getting tickets to American Bandstand, which was what he did at the time. Am I right?
EP: Dick Clark – another consummate professional. I firmly believe that my father and Dick were the two best hosts on TV at that time – and probably the smartest… they thought like producers, as well as hosts. I never saw Bandstand tape – never asked to go. Hmm, maybe I should have 🙂
GP: I can’t ask what went wrong with Pyramid. It lasted a good long time, even replacing the show it replaced. What I can ask about is why it’s not on today. They were supposed to have a revival with Andy Richter as host this year, but that went in favor of Julie Chen’s talk show (which we all hate). I mean, we got Let’s Make a Deal back, but we can’t get Pyramid back. Why do you think that is?
EP: I agree, Pyramid is a great show. While I worked on it, it got cancelled and they brought us back shortly thereafter (show that replaced us bombed in the ratings). A great game, but maybe it’s time has passed – for now … everything is cylical 🙂
GP: Your brother, Sean, began his career with Reg Grundy Productions as a production staff member. He was working for the enemy. Was there any sibling rivalry going on?
EP: No sibling rivalry (as adults – when we were 10, now that’s a different story of course 🙂 ). It was strange when Pyramid and Sale were opposite each other – competing against each other – but we all knew there was nothing we could do about it.
GP: Now, you’re not involved in game shows anymore. I’ve read about your Janis Joplin tribute group in Europe. How is that going?
EP: Loving living in Europe and working as a performer. Kosmic Blues – Tribute to Janis Joplin is one of a number of project that I have – it is one of my faves. 🙂
GP: The holiday season is approaching, and your parents live up in North Carolina. Are you planning on visiting them this year?
EP: I also sing in two professional gospel groups, so I am very busy this time of year. Sadly, this does not allow me time to be with my family over the holidays.
GP: Finally, Erin, what advice do you have for people who want to enter your field of work?
EP: Advice for people who want to get into the entertainment industry – start with a great education and get an internship so you can get some hands on experience and something on your resume. especially important if you don’t have friends or family who can help you get your foot in the door (same with all fields). And be prepared to work your ass off! If not, then don’t get into the business…. there are thousands of people who want that job and are willing to work hard for it.
GP: Thanks a lot, and good luck.
EP: Pleasure 🙂
And in case you’re wondering, here’s a recent picture of Jim Perry with his wife June at Erin’s wedding.
You can’t see much of them, can you? Oh well. Anyway, I also recieved something from Brian Cummings. He sent me a link to this video, and I’d like to share it with you.
I’m still working on an interview with Jim Peck. More soon.