The Price is Right

My second major game show taping. My wife and I flew to Los Angeles on Saturday, July 15, 2006, with Price is Right tickets in hand. After spending Sunday in Burbank attending the Game Show Congress, I was back in the hotel room trying to get some sleep before getting up in the wee hours to get in line. After doing a little research, I found out it's best to get in line around 1:30 a.m. at this time of the year to be guaranteed seats to The Price is Right.

We set the hotel alarm for 1 a.m. and called a cab. It cost us $17 for the four-mile ride down to Beverly and Fairfax (boy...those LA cabs are kind of expensive!) We arrived at the studio at 1:30 a.m. and a couple of the people I met at the Game Show Congress were already in line. Several more people who also post to the Game Show Forum internet newsgroup arrived shortly after. When I first found out I'd have to get in line so early I thought it would drag...but it was just the opposite. I had a great time talking everyone about various game shows over the years, and the time passed fairly quickly. It was great to meet people in person that I'd only met previously online.

It was a warm night - around 70 degrees - and the bagel shop across the street rented out chairs for people to sit on. I noticed some lightning in the skies around 4 a.m. but nothing but a few scattered raindrops ever fell. Some other people further up the line wondered if it the wait was like this for every game show taping. A CBS guard went up and down the line a couple of times warning people not to bring cell phones or cameras into the studio.

As it started to get light, around 6 a.m. they handed out "order of arrival" slips. We were Nos. 44 and 45. We were then told to come back at 7:30 to get "priority numbers". We walked a block down to Farmer's Market, which was just opening, and had a light snack. At 7:30 we got our priority numbers, and were told to come back at 9. At this point I felt it starting to drag a bit. We came back at 9 and were allowed into the audience holding area while they checked everyone's ID and gave us name tags. I had only brought a couple of bananas and some water and was starting to get hungry. I thought once we got processed we'd have access to a place to eat a small breakfast inside the building, but we didn't. There was a snack bar open, but it only served donuts and danishes.

As the morning progessed, it started to get hotter. The high probably reached close to 90 that day. We continued to talk to the people around us in line and several of the Game Show Forum regulars started signing the show's theme and playing mock pricing games. Around 11, a couple of the show's staff came out and started the interviews. A fellow named Stan Blits was the one conducting the interviews. They took about 12 people at a time and spoke to everyone for about 30 seconds. It was from these interviews that they chose their contestants.

I tried to think of something interesting to say about myself that would get their attention. I was wearing a T-shirt that I had made that featured a screen grab from an early Price is Right episode with a young Bob. I thought that was a good idea because I hadn't seen that sort of thing done before. Finally it was my turn and they asked where I was from and what I did, and then I mentioned about my love of game shows, and pointed out my shirt from the early days of the show. Stan thanked me and hoped I would enjoy the show, and then continued with the other people from our group. I thought I did OK, but my wife said "I think we blew it". At any rate, we then passed through the CBS metal detector and sat just outside the entrance for another hour while they interviewed everyone else.

Finally around 12:30 we entered the studio. We walked up the stairs and I finally saw Studio 33 - The Bob Barker Studio for the first time. It looked much smaller and compact in person than it does on television. I was seated fourth row near the center, so I had a great view of everything. It was cool inside so I had to put my sweater on. While sitting there, I thought about all the other game shows that have been done from that studio over the years and tried to imagine what their sets looked like. It always looks slightly different in person. After a while I had noticed a production assistant looking out to the audience. She had a clipboard and was probably trying to find out where today's contestants were seated so the cameramen would know where to shoot. I was hoping they were trying to find me!

Around 1 p.m. Rich Fields, the show's announcer, came out to "warm us up". He spoke briefly about the show and even had some people come up on stage and dance. After a while I heard the director over the intercom say "cameras in place please" and I knew we were close to starting.

Rich announced the show's airdate of October 5, 2006 and got everyone applauding and cheering. Finally the taping started. Although you can hardly see me on the opening, my wife and I are clearly visible during audience pans for most of the "Come on Down" calls during the show.

A fellow names Aaron, who was from our group and seated four seats away from me, was the first contestant called. The second contestant, a cute blonde name Heather, was seated just behind me. After all four were called down, we saw Bob Barker for the first time.

The first game, Danger Price, was won. Aaron won the second pricing game with a perfect bid, called out from a fellow sitting next to my wife, and got to play Plinko. He only won $1500, and had three 0's. When dropping the final chip, it got stuck twice. Bob mentioned both were firsts.

The next contestant was called and she took a while to get out of her seat. The name called was not her exact name, but she mentioned she had a nickname of "Shazam". After some confusion, Bob called for a Stop Tape. They thought they had the wrong contestant. After some checking, it was revealed she was the right contestant and they decided to re-shoot the call down. She was told to go back to her seat, and act like she was really surprised. They rolled tape, called her down and she came down a lot faster that time. The home audience will never know what happened!

Before the show we were told to always go up the left stairs to the stage, because the cameras are set up that way. The fellow who won the third game, Mark, went up the wrong way. He played the Money Game and won a car. Next came the first Showcase Showdown and Mark won with 95c.

During commercials, Bob spoke to the audience and took questions. He talked a bit about the classic show Truth or Consequences, and also accepted gifts from audience members.

The fourth game played was CheckOut, and the contestant won with a 98c difference.

The next contestant was an African-American woman who took a long time to come on down. She appeared in shock that she was called and when she got down to Contestant's Row, she almost went up on stage by mistake. The page had to direct her to her proper place. The next item had an overbid, so they did it again. That lady took a long time to bid, and just before she did the audience quited down a bit, I shouted out "22" and she said "2200" (she must have heard me). Sure enough, she won. She played One Away for a new car and got only two numbers right. It was clear she got the first and last right, and that the three in the middle needed changing. A lot of people in the audience started chanting "2 7 3 - 2 7 3" over and over. She listened, changed the 2, 7 and 3 and won the car.

The final game was won by Heather. She played Double Prices and won a $4000 bed. The second Showcase Showdown was uneventful. Heather went over and a lady named Shanna won in a tie-breaker, and then they setup for the Showcase.

They started bringing out props on stage and I saw two men carry the showcase podiums. They tested the numbers and the "over" sign to make sure they were working properly, and I saw one of the men give the "OK" signal. Because of where it was on stage, parts of the showcase area were blocked because of the cameras. I didn't really look at the monitors all that much because I was too busy trying to observe as much of what was going on on stage as I could.

Mark was the top winner and passed the first showcase. The second showcase featured another car and he bid $33,000. After the reveal, he was closest and won another car! His friends came up on stage, Bob nervously shook a few of their hands and stayed clear, and the theme played. Bob joined them by the car to wave bye-bye, and the music played for quite a while (it must have been full-credit roll day). Just as the camera was fading to black, it panned the audience and I waved. I didn't make it up on stage but I at least wanted to be seen!! Unfortunatly during playback, they cut away to generic credits pretty quick and that part wasn't seen on air.

After the show, Bob thanked us and disappeared. Rich and one of the models gave out a $100 door prize to an audience member and we proceeded out of the studio. I said goodbye to several of the friends I had met, and my wife and I proceeded to Farmer's Market for something substantial to eat. We ran into Aaron and a few of the others there, and we congratulated him on his Plinko win.

What I liked about the show was, even though you don't get called down, you can still participate as a member of the audience. The next two days were filled with other acitivities and we flew back home on the 20th. It was a neat experience that I hope to do again sometime - and hopefully get called to "come on down" to play!

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