Tuesday, February 05, 2013
I want to be a panelist on a TV show.
This has always seemed like the greatest job ever.
And by “always” I mean, since I was a kid.
Back in the Stone Age there were live game shows in prime time. Relics like WHAT’S MY LINE?, I’VE GOT A SECRET, and TO TELL THE TRUTH. Take any one of them – let’s say I’VE GOT A SECRET...
For years this show ran on Monday nights at 8:00 from New York on CBS.
So this was the gig. You swing by the studio at about 7:15 and get a little make up. There’s nothing to prepare. It’s a quiz show. You’ll be asking questions and guessing.
At a few minutes till 8:00 you’re introduced to the studio audience, you accept their applause even though you haven't done anything and won't. Then you take your place at the panelists’ desk.
The show begins at 8:00. You’re on national TV. You're a beloved celebrity although, again, you have no extraordinary talent. You ask a few questions, try to guess the contestant’s secret – and if you can’t so what? Primarily you’re there to toss in a few wise-cracks. Piece of cake!
At 8:30 the show is over. There are no pick-ups. You’re done. You wipe off the make up, jump into a cab, and at 8:45 you’re in Sardi's.
As one of the panelists of that show, Bill Cullen said on it’s final episode: “I’ve been on fifteen years, and haven’t done one moment’s work. I admit that, and I apologize for stealing the money.” Sweet!
Even as an impressionable young lad I was attracted to making a good living by doing nothing.
Requirements: Seems to me if you were once the class clown and could stay awake for thirty minutes you’d be qualified. I’m golden in those departments. And judging by SECRET, only the radio crank was expected to be funny. The job is even easier than I thought.
The other traits a panelist must have are punctuality (they frown on you showing up late for a live show) and you should be opinionated. Has that ever been a problem for me, dear readers?
The position pretty much dried up in the 80s and 90s. The game shows went away or into syndication where Brett Sommers and Tom Poston hogged most of the panels.
But then reality television came along! Panelists are back! In some cases you need to be an expert in a certain field. But even then – Ellen DeGeneres a judge on AMERICAN IDOL? Piers Morgan judging talent? That’s like me judging the Westminster Dog Show.
In some cases the panelists on these shows can’t even string a sentence together. Or they just fall back on inane catch phrases and cliches. Am I the only one who finds it ironic that the only AMERICAN IDOL judge to survive all the changes is Randy Jackson?
So I’m officially proclaiming to producers – I’m available to be a panelist. Quiz shows, talent shows, style shows, snarkoramas, political forums, sports roundtables, you name it. If there’s a desk I want to be behind it. I will even bring my own Coke cup. I’m ready. I’m highly motivated. And I am even willing to work five hours a week.
By Ken Levine at 6:00 AM