Hey guys, what’s up? I’m back again with another part of my interview with Roger Dobkowitz. This time we go to the 90s. I have gotten feedback from some people that I try to stuff too much information into my questions. I do that for the benefit of the readers’. However, in this case, I think I should let Roger speak for himself.
“During the 1990’s I attempted to create some shows for Mark Goodson Productions, several of which I was able to produce full run-throughs in the offices. They were well received, however, at the danger of sounding like sour grapes, I had the problem of competing with the projects of the more well-established producers at Mark Goodson Productions. My projects were push[ed] to the side while other projects went ahead. It bothered me, but I had Price Is Right to keep me busy.
When Mark Goodson died we all worried about the fate of the company. Goodson had the genius and, fortunately for us, he ran the company as if we were a family. He treated us nicely and he paid us fairly. He realized that having happy people around meant that his company would also have more productive and creative people.
One of the first projects after he died was the new syndicated version for Paramount Television. This project was put together by Jonathan Goodson and some others that worked in the company. Their goal, as I remember them saying, was to “bring Price into the 21st Century”. They felt the daytime version looked old-fashioned and they were worried that Barker was getting old and would not be able to do the show much longer. They also believed that Wheel of Fortune was ready to sink soon in the ratings and they believed that a syndicated version of Price would take its place. (Well…they were wrong! almost 20 years later and Wheel is still going strong!)
This new version of Price was going to be quite separate from the daytime version. Although they took Phil Wayne and Kathy Greco as “producers” they really weren’t running the show. Jonathan Goodson and Andy Felsher were in control. They did not ask me to be part of it. At first I was a little put off by not being asked but I quickly felt differently. When I saw their plans for the show, I was relieved I wasn’t part of it. I have always felt that I learned more about producing gameshows by watching them produce this version…I learned what NOT to do.
I hated the fact that they got rid of Contestant’s Row…however, they though it was just fine. I hated the digital clock and told them…they thought it made the show look modern. They originally put two $5000 slots in Plinko…I told them that two slots took away some of the drama…they listened to me on that one! I hated the range finder in the showcases. I hated the dark set. I even disliked the game set-ups.
Another problem was Doug Davidson. He is one of the nicest guys ever and I can see how they thought he would make a good host. However, the problem was that he never got any direction from anybody. No one told him the do’s and don’ts of being an MC. I do think it’s very important for a host to be “themselves,” however, a host still has to be a “host.” He must show that he is in charge and he must help along the drama and excitement of the show. On a show like Price, he must also get the most out of the contestant.
Doug was the first choice by the producers, however, Paramount Television wanted to try out other hosts. Both Bob Goen and Mark Kriski were considered and did pilots with them hosting the show. Kriski did a real good job, and apparently, Paramount wanted him over Doug. Jonathan and Paramount went back and forth over Kriski and Davidson for a couple of weeks. However, Jonathan prevailed and Davidson was kept as host.
The show was so badly produced that both Bob and I kept our distance. Whenever the Davidson version was discussed around me, I always mentioned “I have nothing to do with that show—that show is being produced by others!” I didn’t want to be in anyway associated with that version.
The show did not live up to its promises, ratings sunk, and was cancelled early. There were many episodes that were not aired.
Unfortunately, with the failure of the new version, it also brought to an end Mark Goodson Productions as we knew it. The company was put up for sale. Fortunately, because of Bob Barker, the fate of our show turned out OK. Bob did not want anybody telling us what to do with the show. The new company left us alone. I do not understand all the details but Price Is Right became a separate company from All-American…they still owned the show but they did not “produce” it…we did. They left us completely alone. The “separate” conditions lasted for five years, even after FremantleMedia bought the show. However, after the five years were over, conditions got more corporate and the glory days of game show producing ended!”
I’d like your feedback, though. Should I include the questions in upcoming interviews?