Tribute to Geoff Edwards and Jim Lange

Greetings, game show fans and passengers. This is your captain speaking. I’ve been in recluse, but I felt the need to come here today to honor two very important men in the game show industry. I am, of course, referring to Geoff Edwards (February 15, 1931 – March 5, 2014) and Jim Lange (August 15, 1932 – February 25, 2014).

I had a chance to “friend” Geoff on Facebook, but he didn’t want any friend suggestions. His exact words were, “Hi Greg, I appreciate the effort, but please don’t suggest any more friends to me, or I’ll take away your BRAND NEW CAR!!”

That was Geoff. He always knew how to turn up the drama and throw in the twists, just like on the show he’s best known for, [The New] Treasure Hunt. I would post an episode of that, but you’ve already seen every one on YouTube. So, I will post one that he’s not well known for…. The Big Spin.

 

 

There is someone who is far more qualified to tell you about his career, and that is Adam Nedeff. You may check his page here. His son Chess offers this eulogy on Geoff’s FB page.

“Dear friends, fans and supporters of my dear Dad,

Thank you for all your loving support and beautiful remembrances of Geoff. He lived a blessed life and those of you who knew and loved him were a big part of that blessing.

Many have asked about a memorial service for Geoff. The family has decided to honor Geoff with a small family gathering and to not hold a public service. We believe that Geoff would have wanted it this way.

For as public a figure as my father was, he was never one for such public rituals. He even stopped celebrating birthdays some 30 years ago because for him everyday was special. Even during the holidays, Dad was perturbed by the idea that we should all feel so obligated to gather on one particular day to celebrate our love for each other. His idea was that we should just have a big long season called “The Holidays” and each family would choose their own time and place to gather in celebration. It would alleviate so much heartache and hassle and for my Dad, the particular day was superfluous.

He wasn’t a fan of preschool graduations, commercialized holidays or even his own birthday. He never wanted others to feel obligated to show up and show respect or have to say the right thing when, to his mind, those things should be happening in our hearts all the time.

So, we will be holding sacred and honoring space for Geoff in our own hearts together as a family with a small and precious gathering. We ask that you do the same, as you have been doing; celebrate Geoff Edwards in your own hearts in your own way and in your own time. That’s what my Dad would want.

Toast him with a margarita, feel the warmth of the sun on your skin and be thankful, extend a kindness to a stranger, do the right thing even when it is hard, laugh, travel, explore and have the courage to do whatever that thing is that you’re afraid to do. That is how you can perhaps best honor Geoff, for those are some of the things that always brought him most alive.

Thank you again from our entire family for all your love and care and beautiful honoring. Geoff was a tremendously blessed man for having known you all in his way and for being able to play a part in your life’s joy.

Blessings Be, Chess

 

Now, as for Jim Lange…. I personally have not spoken to him either.

Jim was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and started in radio after a stint in the Marines. His first national TV exposure was The Dating Game. His other game shows included $100,000 Name That TuneThe $1,000,000 Chance of a LifetimeHollywood ConnectionBullseye and the ABC version of The New Newlywed Game, as well as short-lived shows including, Spin-OffTriple Threat and Give-n-Take. To show or mention all of his work here would take a lifetime. However, since GSN already aired a Dating Game marathon, here is something from one of his other well-known shows.

 

What surprises me is that GSN has made effort with Mr. Lange, but not with Mr. Edwards. And even then, the tribute for Mr. Lange only consisted of Dating Game episodes with celebrities in them. Are they that concerned with ratings?

Both of these hosts will be missed deeply, not just for their warmth and character, but also because of their professionalism. Rest in peace, gentlemen.

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Endemol

Hello, all you voyagers out there. This is your captain speaking. No, I’m not publishing every week, but I do have something I’d like to discuss with you. It’s about my complicated relationship with Endemol.

*ABC is planning on working with Endemol for a new talent competition, Sing Your Face Off. It’s based on the hit format Your Face Sounds Familiar, already seen in 26 countries including most of Europe and a good part of South America. Here’s the trailer.

This adds to the glut of music-based reality programs already out there. If there’s one thing the world likes, it’s music. It will be hosted by John Barrowman (Lead tenor stormtrooper from The Producers)  and will air sometime next year. Heaven help us.

Here’s some behind-the-scenes footage from the UK version:

* Speaking of reality shows, The Taste returns this coming Thursday at 8 for a two-hour premiere. That’s the show where chefs create mini-versions of their dishes served on spoons. Or, as ABC themselves put it (courtesy of The Futon Critic): “In this exhilarating cooking competition series, “The Taste” puts 16 culinary competitors, who range from home cooks and professional chefs to everything in between, in the kitchen where four of the world’s most notable masters of the food world judge their creations based on a blind taste. In this pressure-packed contest, a single spoonful can catapult a contender to the top or send them packing. […] four culinary superstars and “Taste” mentors will coach a team of four competing pro and amateur cooks chosen from a nationwide casting call, as they vie to create the best tasting dish in a state of the art kitchen. Each week the groups will face team and individual challenges with a variety of culinary themes through several elimination rounds. At the end of each episode, the mentors will have to judge the competitors’ dishes blind, with no knowledge of whose creation they’re sampling, what they’re eating, how it was prepared or whom they could be sending home.” Dumb dumb dumb. All that work for one taste. And this is on ABC, not Food Network! Why can’t we get something like Endemol’s Next One!known in Italy as Avanti Un AltroHere’s what the bonus round looks like from a British perspective.

* You may wonder why I’m on such an Endemol kick lately. Well, it may have something to do with the fact that I’ve got a petition. I have discovered that Big Brother Australia is pretty cool. In fact, it’s even cooler than ours. While ours (and Canada’s) is mostly a Survivor clone in a house, the rest of the world has a much different format. Everyone votes to nominate in a solemn assembly, and then the public votes to evict via Facebook, text messaging, or calling in. You’re not allowed to discuss nominations at all. That means no alliances, no plotting, no collusion. If you’d like to see the 2013 Aussie launch show and read the petition (and hopefully sign it), here it is. 

 

Anyway, happy new year, and I’ll talk to you later. Thanks for reading.

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Long Overdue Update

Hi, there. This is a long overdue update, and I’m sorry I’ve kept you waiting. I’ve been keeping busy working at a local public television station on the production crew of North Carolina Now. I did that from late May to mid October, and then I was put with someone else packing boxes for a project for The Corporation for Public Broadcasting. All of this was volunteer work and unpaid. But now, I’m back on the job path.

But enough about me. I know this page hasn’t been updated in forever, so let’s review what’s happened since last I updated:

* The biggest thing to happen was The Million Second Quiz, supposedly “the Olympics of quiz”. (Um, no, that would more accurately describe a Jeopardy! International Tournament.) It was promoted everywhere and anywhere by NBC Universal (now owned by Comcast). I qualified to be a line jumper, but little did I know that I was supposed to continue playing after I signed up to qualify. Here is how the ratings stood over the 10-night event (courtesy of Wikipedia).

No. Title Original air date Rating/Share
(18–49)
U.S. viewers
(millions)[a]
1 “Day 1” September 9, 2013 1.7/5[11] 6.52[11]
2 “Day 2” September 10, 2013 1.5/5[12] 5.83[12]
3 “Day 3” September 11, 2013 1.3/4[13] 5.17[13]
4 “Day 4” September 12, 2013 1.1/3[14] 4.16[14]
5 “Day 5” September 13, 2013 0.8/3[15] 3.97[15]
6 “Day 6” September 14, 2013 0.7/3[16] 3.03[16]
7 “Day 7” September 16, 2013 1.0/3[17] 3.59[17]
8 “Day 8” September 17, 2013 1.1/4[18] 5.22[18]
9 “Day 9” September 18, 2013 1.1/4[19] 4.87[19]
10 “Finale” September 19, 2013 1.3/4[20] 4.95[20]

So, the ratings never rose above a 2, the share never went above 5, and aside from a momentary spike on Day 8,  the number of viewers stayed below 7 million.

Here’s what I think of it. NBC promoted the living daylights out of this thing, claiming it was non-stop trivia. Well, it wasn’t. Ryan kept pausing between bouts to talk about the format, the rules, who was sitting in Winner’s Row, what Subway product they were consuming, etc. etc. So, we got three bouts in all each night. One contestant brought in from the audience in New York, a Line Jumper from somewhere in the country, and the “Winner’s Defense”, where one contestant from Winner’s Row risks everything in a winner-take-all bout.

The format’s OK. Ryan asks a question and the two contestants secretly lock in their answers on a touchscreen before revealing them at Ryan’s request. If a player doesn’t know it, or thinks the other player doesn’t have a clue, (s)he can pass it to his/her opponent for double the points. But be careful, that question can be doubled back for four times the points. At which point, the contestant….. has five seconds to answer the question, because there are no physical challenges.

When the million seconds run out, the top 4 players at that point keep what they’ve won and go on to the final three bouts. The winner of that third bout wins $2,000,000. In this case, the winner Andrew Kravis got his winnings amped up to a total of $2.6 million, officially knocking out Ken Jennings as  the all-time biggest regular-season winner on a single American game show. Boo! (Interestingly enough, Ken was offered a spot on the show, but was told an hour later he’d have to fly himself to New York [but could jump the line].)

So, in an essence, we have a supposedly fast-paced quiz with the doubling mechanics of Double Dare (the Nickelodeon version, not that other one). Apparently, we were sold something that was not necessarily so. I recorded the series but later lost interest after noting how slow everything went in order to get more commercials in (with the Money Clock still running, no less!).

This, ladies and gentlemen, is why you cannot trust NBC with a primetime game show. They spoil it, they pad it, and they run it every night. It’s the same with Minute to Win It, Take it All, and Who’s Still Standing? 

* On September 27th, a full episode of The Price is Right was dedicated to Plinko. Yes, all six pricing games were the exact same, with center spots and $1,000 spots being replaced by prizes. Take a look (courtesy of WhammyRules).

I thought this would be cool, but it wasn’t.

* One of the biggest things to happen on GSN is The Chase. It’s hosted by Brooke Burns of Dog Eat Dog fame (which coincidentally is also rerunning Saturday nights at 8 PM on the network) and is actually pretty good. There’s only one Chaser, Mark “The Beast” Labbett, who actually keeps the winnings very low. The banks hit at least $40,000; with two entering the six-digit figure. However, there have only been two wins in the seven episodes that have run. One of those, being episode two, is rather notable as it features fellow game show blogger Cory Anotado leading his team to a $180K victory. 

That win tops probably every GSN game show’s budget ever (including Russian Roulette).

* On October 26th, we lost Marcia Wallace of The Bob Newhart Show and The Simpsons. GSN ran a marathon of her highlights on Match Game, Password Plus, and The $100,000 Pyramid. We will miss you, Carol Kester. 

* Speaking of GSN, there’s some good news coming this Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Thanksgiving is a Family Feud marathon, featuring an hour of each of the pre-Harvey hosts (including Louie Anderson and Al Roker), followed by 6 hours of the oft-run Steve Harvey version. I’m particularly excited about Black Friday, though, because starting at 8 AM, they’ll be running the first 8 episodes of the 1985 syndicated version of $ale of the Century. After that, 12 whole hours of Steve Harvey’s Feud. While I could obviously care less about Harvey, I am excited about $ale. These episodes have not been seen in over 20 years. This is a dream come true for a number of classic game show fans, myself included.

Overall, there’s a lot to look forward to in the coming weeks and months. Bob Barker will be returning to Price for his 90th birthday. That’s something I’m looking forward to. I’m fully expecting Bob to pawn Drew, even at 90 years old. I’m sure Roger would agree.

They’ll be more to come eventually. I’ll try to keep you posted as the time comes.

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Review: “Hollywood Game Night”

Hello, and happy belated 237th birthday to America.  This time, I’m going to be reviewing a game show that premiered last night on NBC. It’s entitled Hollywood Game Night and is based on the actual game nights thrown by Executive Producer and Creator Sean Hayes.

The series follows two civilian contestants who take part in a casual game night with six celebrities (three on each team). The games are simple and range from placing pictures of celebrities in chronological order to charades to identifying portraits painted by gifted elementary school students from Culver City. At the end of five games, the team with the highest score gets a chance at cash for both the contestant and the charity of a celebrity’s choosing.

It’s hosted by Jane Lynch, who certainly doesn’t look out of place. She’s largely a character actor who is best known as Coach Sue Sylvester, frenemy to New Directions on Glee. Me thinks this is stunt casting, but she holds it together. I mean, she’s no Ellen DeGeneres, and she’s definitely no Betty White. I’d put her on the same level as that football player who replaced Pat Sajak on the daytime Wheel, Rolf. Here she is, explaining the background behind the series.

And somewhat of the same thing, with more people:

The games themselves are….. OK. The first one in the premiere consisted of identifying crunchy snacks in a bowl. Oddly enough, all of them are owned by Frito-Lay. Can anyone say “covert product placement”? The second can be best described as three-person Password. The bonus round? Well, that largely consists of celebrities describing other celebrities a la The $25,000 Pyramid’s main game while the civilian guesses them. Each one is worth $1,000 each to the contestant and the charity of the celebrity partner’s choice. Ten in 90 seconds or less is worth $25,000 to the civilian and $10,000 to the charity. Yes, it is rather low budget for an hour in prime time, but how are you going to afford these many B-list TV celebrities otherwise? I mean, in the first episode alone, you have Daniel Dae Kim, Alyson Hannigan, Martin Short, Kristin Bell, Matthew Perry, and Lisa Kudrow. Most of them are off work for the summer.

Speaking of the celebrities, one of the main selling points of the show is hanging out at this “fantastic party in the Hollywood Hills”, supposedly in Jane Lynch’s living room,  with ” some of today’s biggest names in entertainment” . Well, it’s a party for the celebs all right. It’s just too bad that, in my opinion, they don’t interact that much with the contestants outside of the game. I mean, I don’t know what they do during commercial breaks, but in the game, the celebs are nothing but teammates. This party atmosphere seems a bit pretentious to me. Sure, you’ve got the band (which is OK), you’ve got Jane Lynch (who is OK), but this feels largely like Pantomime Quiz or Whose Line (where everything’s made up and the points don’t matter).  Of course, celebrity-civilian partnerships are nothing new in game shows, but they’re better executed elsewhere. I mean, take a look at the various Pyramids. 

And do you want to know the sad part about all this? This idea is nothing new. Burt Reynolds did something quite similar in 1987. He called it Win, Lose, or Draw. It proved to be so successful that it launched a syndicated version, a cable version for teens, and now a new cable version for teens coming out some time this year (to The Disney Channel, no less).

Overall, Hollywood Game Night is not bad, it’s just not good. I’d have just put it on NBC’s daytime lineup, because the budget fits. It’s not bad for a summer replacement, just don’t expect it to last very long. It’s on Thursday nights at 10/9c on NBC. Check your local listings.

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Updated Link: Interview with Jessica Gaynes

Hi. This is just an update to let you know that I’ve updated the interview with Jessica Gaynes. I’m really surprised this has all happened so quickly. She’s thought it over and has changed her answers. I’m proud of her for opening up as much as she has. This just proves that celebrities are people too.

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Review: “The Winner Is”

Hi.

I’m sorry I haven’t been so forward in updating my blog. I have a new job working at my local public TV station, and not much has been happening with the interview front. Anyway, I’d like to tell you about a new show that’s currently being “previewed” on NBC right now, it’s called The Winner Is. If you’ve been watching it, you know what I’m talking about. If not, I’ll now explain it to you.

There’s been a large emphasis in reality TV lately on performances, musical or otherwise. NBC, the network that gave you America’s Got Talent and The Voice (which has recently scored a series low 2.7 in the ratings, with a  4.3 rating for its finale, according to TV by the Numbers), now has another one that seeks to give out more immediate rewards for good singing. It’s called The Winner Is…, and is produced by Talpa Media, who also produces The Voice. The series is hosted by boy-band member Nick Lachey, who you probably figured was going to get this gig since he knows something about music.

In a nutshell, two amateur singers or groups of singers compete in sing-offs, much like the elimination rounds on that other show on the same network. Unlike that other show, you don’t need to be applying for a contract. This is for everybody, of all ages. The performances are of the typical kind seen on most performance-based shows. This means a lot of notes held for a really long time, a lot of belting, and…. well, I’ll just show you what I mean.

After both performances, a mysterious group of music lovers (expert or otherwise) known as “The 101” vote on who did better. Then, the scores are revealed. They’re not assigned to any particular performer just yet, because something new has been added! Money! Both players are offered a nominal bribe ($10,000 in Round 1, $25,000 in Round 2, and $50,000 in Round 3) to leave the game and let the other win. If neither of them take the money, the scores are finally assigned to their proper places and the loser goes home with nothing. As NBC’s official website itself says, “contestants must believe in their own performance, edge out their competition and avoid cash temptations to move forward”.

After each temptation and score reveal, the winner’s score is eligible for a “Fast Track” to the final round, where the winner of that musical duel will move on to the season finale and a shot at $1,000,000 in cash (plus bigger bribes).

You people watching at home can play along online by predicting who wins and who will take the money. If you sign up, you could possibly win $10,000 in cash. Details are here.

I watched the first preview episode with my mom, and even played along. (Disclosure: The network asked me to watch and play along. I’m part of their Peacock Panel. If you want to join, put a comment up and I’ll forward you a survey sometime.) I kept thinking people would take the money each time, but sadly I was wrong until the final round. Overall, I’ll watch for the Million Dollar Finale, but I’m not watching the whole series. I guess the reason why is because there are too many music-based competitions on TV already, especially on NBC.

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BREAKING NEWS: $ale of the Century Comes to GSN

Good morning. This just in, $ale of the Century is coming to GSN on April 1st. Here’s the promo to prove it.

Now for those of you that may not read this blog regularly, I wrote a petition last year (which James Williamson has promoted the heck out of) asking GSN to acquire the rights to this show and Scrabble. Now I don’t think Scrabble’s going to happen because half the rights to that belong to Hasbro, but this is excellent news!

Of course, knowing GSN, it might be just one cycle of 50 episodes that gets repeated over and over. Still, it’s better than nothing! Thank you, GSN!

 

UPDATE: It’s been confirmed via that other blog  and GSN itself that the order picked up is 65 episodes of the daytime version from 1988-89 with the Winner’s Big Money Game and Don Morrow as announcer. Expect to see something like this, only in much better quality.

 

 

If you want to see more, watch it every day.

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