As I mentioned already, I spent spring break this year in Southern California. We cruised home Sunday evening just in time for school and work on Monday morning. The trip was excellent. I have so many things to show you about our trip, but I am going to start with one of the major highlights, going to a taping of The Price is Right!
First of all, getting the tickets was far easier than I thought. Anyone can go online and request them. They’re free, and if you know you are heading to the area a month or so in advance you can get priority tickets, which means you will get into the show if you get in line by 8:00am. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t show up early. People start lining up around six in the morning. You will end up waiting a little bit less later on if you show up at dawn.
I reserved four priority tickets. Mr Pilver, his dad, his aunt and I were going together. However we never could secure a sitter for the kids, so Mr. Pilver took the kids to the Tar Pits in Hollywood. (He didn’t make it any secret that he was relieved he would not be dragged to a wild and crazy game show.) Being we had one extra ticket, Aunt Patty found another woman named Patty from West Virginia who happily abandoned her husband on the side of the street and joined us.
Most of the day was spent waiting. There are three sets of long benches you are shuffled between before taping begins. The first set is where you receive your name tag and fill out a form saying you have not been a contestant on any game show in the past so many years. If you have you can still go, you just can’t get called to win anything.
The second set of benches is where they conduct the interviews. The interviews are short. They are looking for people who can hold a decent conversation and who are hyper and excited to be there. However, I did notice that the insane crazy wild obnoxious folks don’t get called down.
The third set of benches is the area outside the studio. Here they play for you a previous episode of The Price is Right to pump you up for the big show. This is where I will tell you about Michael, the world’s leading expert on The Price is Right.
Michael was at his 43rd taping. There was another woman present who had been to over a hundred tapings, but she couldn’t hold a flame to Michael’s knowledge of the show. His main goal in life is to work for The Price is Right as a resident expert. I don’t know how to word this well enough to make you understand, he knows EVERYTHING about the show...EVERYTHING. Every employee at CBS studios knows him. He can and will rattle off every random fact about the show. He wears a shirt which reads, “Ask me about The Price is Right.” He has a set of YouTube videos where he reports odd facts about the show. Need to know who the tallest contestant ever was, he can tell you. Want to find out the highest winnings of any contestant, Michael knows. When we watched the re-run from 2008, he recalled every contestant by name and every winning bid. When we were in the audience, he knew the cost of every box of au gratin potatoes and jars of jelly. It was eerie. He also got lumped into our group and we became a five-some. I was able to sit and ask him things about what to expect and he knew it all.
Alright, so we waited six or more hours on benches with 300 strangers. The vibe during that time is exciting. Everyone there is looking forward to seeing the show, and everyone is in a great mood. Being as we got our passes so early, we were nearly the first ones in the studio. They save the front and center first few rows for large groups with matching t-shirts and pretty young girls. No lie. So we were in the fifth row, and I was very pleased with that.
As we walked into the studio I gasped. I was walking onto the set of the show I had watched since I was a tiny girl. It was amazing. After the awe passed, I was then shocked to realize how small it is. Somehow they managed to make the audience and stage appear five times larger on TV than it actually is. Another bizarre thing I noticed was the colored panels on the walls are not the vibrant hues you see at home, they are almost shades of pastels. On stage the camera swirls around Drew Carey, the contestant, and the games giving the illusion that one is way over there and another is close, when inn reality they are side by side. In addition to Drew Carey and the announcer, George Gray, there are a dozen other employees milling around the stage at any given time. There really is no empty space up there. When it looks like a winner is running far to get to the car they just won, they are actually moving mere steps.
Left: Real Colors. Right: Magical TV colors!
After everyone is seated, George Gray comes out looking all shiny and movie start like and gives instructions as to how to behave and what to do if you get called. There’s a tall skinny guy whose only job is to instruct the audience when to scream, when to sit, and when to help the contestants by telling them prices. Then Drew Carey comes out, and of course, the crowd goes batty. I was amazed at how great he looks. Sure he has make-up on, but he’s fit and thin and is dancing to “I’m sexy and I know it” for at least a full two minutes before he addresses us. Drew did not give the impression that he was the main event and we ought to bow down. He just talks to everyone like we’re at a barbeque. The announcer had a similar demeanor, very casual. It was as though they were not famous and just working at the grocery store interacting with customers.
And, the game begins. They call people, those people bid, one wins and they play a game. While this was very cool to see, it is very different in person. You can barely hear anything people are saying and the infamous music is added in editing, so it feels different. the whole time, the audience is keeping one eye on the action and another on Tall Skinny Guy for instructions as to what to do. You’re sitting, standing screaming, and throwing number signs with your hands. If no one is giving help to the contestant Tall Skinny Guy gets frantic, encouraging us to participate. Since hearing or sometimes even seeing the products up for bid is difficult, I stood up and yelled, “ONE MILLION DOLLARS!” more than once just to appease him.
They have to do retakes as well. Three separate times we had to clap for the same watch or re-help audience members bid the same item because of some sort of mistake made by one of the employees. The models messed up as well, hand gesturing to the items improperly or something like that. One girl appeared a bit frustrated when she did something like three retakes for the same camera. But if I had to race down the aisle with the heels they put her in over and over I’d be frustrated too.
When the last contestant was to be called, I had long given up hope that anyone in our group would be on stage. I was OK with that, it was a blast either way. But then they said, PATRICIA LASTNAME! (No, I’m not telling you the last name, though if you do watch the show, you’ll see it). Well, that was the last name of Mr. P’s aunt. We were pushing her to get up there and then another lady raced to the stage. But, it turns out Patty never changed her name back after she was divorced, so that was not her legal name. I’m excited to see if they air our blunder on TV. At the end of the show, George Gray came over and talked with us and Patty told him about the name mess up and he went and signed a t-shirt to give to Patty.
We filed out of the studio and out of Television-land tired and satisfied. It was a long day, but I will definitely go back if I get the chance. And I’ll only say it once more, watch April 25th to see me, Frank, Patricia1, Patricia2, and Michael scream like maniacs