PURVIEW: The Price Is Right

15 07 2009

"My" episode airs 20 OCT 2009. Set your TiVos.

"My" episode airs 20 OCT 2009. Set your TiVos.

So. I attended a taping of The Price Is Right yesterday with my friend Kelly, her friend Sunny, and Sunny’s aunt Donna (still with me?).

The show is produced at CBS Studios in Beverly Hills (actually, it’s adjacent to The Grove, a (very) high-end shopping center; naturally, parking is not validated by the studio and we ended up fronting a bill for the daily maximum ($24).

We meant to arrive at 9 a.m. and were about thirty minutes late: too late, it seems, for the first taping of the day (12:30 p.m.). Kelly had arranged for “guaranteed” seats, but this was for naught as one of the CBS pages (adorned in a maroon blazer) informed us that the taping was “full.”

Indeed, each of the pages wore a similar “uniform” and none was older (it seemed) than 22. As to why anyone would desire to become a CBS page is beyond conjecture, but suffice it to say that there are (probably) less interesting ways to spend one’s summer.

In any case, we were told to return at 12:30 for the afternoon taping (4 p.m.) and our group was added to a list of intended returnees.

After some time spent window-shopping (with coffees, natch) at The Farmer’s Market (which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year), we made our way back to the studio. This renewed effort was rewarded with a spot in the audience.

Each of us was assigned a name tag and a number (yours truly was given #133) upon presentation of photo i.d. and proof of possession of a Social Security number (this, we were told, was necessary in the event that we won something as a contestant).

"The Waiting Game"

"The Waiting Game"

Much of the day was wasted with waiting for the taping to begin. We waited for our group to be called. We waited to be seen (and interviewed!) by the show’s producers (namely, Stan Blits). We waited to be seated in the studio. All in all, we were there for a little over eight-and-a-half hours (if our parking ticket was any indication).

First, the studio was much smaller than expected (about 300 guests fit comfortably). Second, despite some recent retooling of stages, the decor is as garish as anything from the 1970s (although the show debuted in 1956.

All the games you remember (and love) are there: “It’s In the Bag,” “Lucky Seven,” “Safe Crackers.”

In addition to cameras and crew members, there were three twenty-something(?) interns whose sole job (it seems) was to whip the audience into a frenzy. One guy in particular gesticulated at every opportunity, exhorting us to shout prices and advice to each contestant; yours truly made sure always to exclaim, “One dollar!”

The taping moved ploddingly: as the next game was assembled (behind curtains, natch) host Drew Carey engaged contestants: “Where are you from?”; “What do you do for a living?”; “Why are you here?” Drew made a consistent effort to suggest local eateries (In-N-Out, Pink’s, and Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles were among his favorites).

When a woman from our section was called (seated two rows behind yours truly), I knew then that I had a slim chance of being called “down.” For the record, she ended up bidding on the showcase featured at the end of the episode.

Nothing shouts classy like rubber daisies and blinking lights.

Nothing shouts classy like rubber daisies and blinking lights.

Her competitor, a cement mixer on legs, won not only a new car during his game but also landed $1 on the Big Wheel, thus claiming a $1000 prize. He went on to win the showcase showdown as well, netting nearly $60,000 in prizes (another new car among them).

A suggestion, then, reader if you want to be called as contestant, is that you should fulfill one of the following archetypes: attractive female college student; elderly (presumably feisty) woman; or, rugged and bearded behemoth.

Was I disappointed at not being called? Hardly. I almost didn’t stay for the second taping; when we were rebuffed upon arrival I intimated my desire to return home, but reconsidered. When else was I going to view a taping of one of the most venerated and consistent games shows in American television history?