Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Inside THE PRICE IS RIGHT

My daughter Annie recently attended the taping of THE PRICE IS RIGHT (it will air tomorrow morning, Wednesday) and along with her writing partner, Jon Emerson files this account of it:

Recently, a friend of mine came to visit and wanted to do something “touristy” in the city. I happen to live very close to where they tape THE PRICE IS RIGHT and my dad happens to enjoy getting a day off from blogging, so it didn't take long to put two and two together...

We got in line around six in the morning and were already behind a half-dozen people praying for the chance to “come on down.” A regular Algonquin Round Table. (IKEA round table; actual retail price: $199.)

There was the married couple from Utah who drove ten hours literally just for this taping. As soon as it was over they were headed right back. I didn't ask how he chose which wife to bring, but I assume she was the one who does the grocery shopping.

And Scott, the entrepreneur, whose real goal was to get on SHARK TANK. His latest stroke of genius was a combination watch and stun gun. (Mederma Scar Cream; actual retail price: $20.)

As the line grew behind us, I began to realize we were dressed like complete idiots. In that we were the only ones not dressed like complete idiots. A rainbow of t-shirts covered in blood, sweat, and Puffy Paint. (Dimensional Puffy Fabric Paint; actual retail price: $9.99 for a pack of six.) Each shirt featured witty turns of phrase like “Sock It Drew Me” and “Just Drew It!” I almost Drew my brains out.

In line at six in the morning and we finally got through the CBS gates around nine. Much to our chagrin, we were just put into another line. Our newest line companion was Michael Polosky. This was Michael's thirty-seventh taping of THE PRICE IS RIGHT. He knew every single thing I could have ever wondered about the show except what made me think coming to it was a good idea.

At last we were given the iconic price tag name badges. The show requires you put your full legal first name on the badge, meaning I had to be Diana. Nobody ever calls me Diana, so for all I know, they did call me down and I just ignored it. That'll make for a fun blooper reel. (Game Show Moments Gone Bananas (DVD); actual retail price: $13.)

Everyone in line was divided up into groups of twelve to sixteen people. Each group was interviewed so that the producers could find contestants for this particular episode. Personally, I thought I nailed my interview. I was charming, I was funny, I was a sure-fire TV sensation.

I was seated in the very back row.

We would have been closer to the stage if I sat on my couch at home.

I will say this, though... I don't know if it was the psychedelic set, the allure of winning a trampoline, or what, but as soon as I sat in that metal folding chair, I went from mumbling “I hate this” to screaming “PICK THE KAYAK!” in sixty-seconds flat. (Mark 1 Economy Stopwatch; actual retail price: $8.)

Drew Carey came out, the place went nuts, and only six hours from the time we got in line, we finally heard: “It's the Price is Riiiiiight!”

THE PRICE IS RIGHT is currently involved in a $7.7 million lawsuit. I think the producers might be worried they'll have to pay out because one of the big prizes of the show was a BBQ shaped like a pickle. Sure, people won cars, but I don't remember the old PRICE IS RIGHT requiring you to return those cars to the nearest Enterprise location with the same amount of gas in the tank as when you got it.
For most of the audience (read: old women) the biggest draw of the show was the raw sexual magnetism of Drew Carey...'s male model assistant “Hot Rob.” “Hot Rob” is the first male model the show has ever had. From the looks of him, he gets paid per ab. (Total Gym XLS; actual retail price: $999.)

At one point, Drew read the contestant's bids incorrectly and called the wrong person up to the stage. The audience felt terrible for her as she danced her way up to Drew and then had to walk back to her podium. Then Hot Rob gave her a hug and the audience wanted to kill her.

After the taping, they had us all stay behind to do pick-ups. It was mostly contestants having to recreate their psychotic sprinting from their seats to the stage. Can you imagine? “I'm so sorry you didn't win that trip, that car, any of the furniture, and you got beaten in the Showcase Showdown by only a dollar... But, hey, at least you got that hot dog cooker. Now run down here again and put a little more enthusiasm into it.”

They let us all go home and I have to admit I was thrilled with the experience. Sure, I didn't get called up to be a contestant, but I buy everything with coupons anyway, so how good could I have done?

This particular episode airs tomorrow. I'll be the one way in the back trying to stop a 200 year-old woman from rushing the stage to get at Hot Rob. (Trojan condoms; actual retail price: $14.)

That's the end of this blog post. Thanks for reading and don't forget to have your pets spayed or neutered.

Thanks again to Jon & Diana... I mean Annie.    

45 comments:

Kev said...

I don't know Ken. It seems that Annie is beating you at your own game. When does she get her own spin-off blog?

LouOCNY said...

Too bad Annie - should have gotten fake ID with your old nickname Pornstop....

"PORNSTOP LEVINE COME ON DOWN!!"

LouOCNY said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve said...

HAHAHA UTAHISFULLOFMORMONSWHOHAVEMULTIPLEWIVESAMIRIGHT???
HAHAHA

LouOCNY said...

And Kev is right - you should maybe start being like Johnny, and have Porn..er...Di...Annie be you Monday morning guest host

Mike Barer said...

My wife's dream was to get on "The Price Is Right" We didn't get called down, but it was a fun experience. Our show airs April 10th. I was hoping that you would mention Jessica, the waitress who articularly shouted the entire menu and presentation to the line in an unforgettable manner.

Charles Warn said...

great post annie...I became aware of the price is right's place in our national hierarchy in the 90s when I was lucky enough to take my visiting toledo mom to the oscars and a taping of the price is right and she hardly mentioned the oscars to her pals...will watch your taping in tribute to her

Scooter Schechtman said...

I knew right away this wasn't a nostalgic reminiscence or you would've posted a picture of Anitra Ford.

Kim said...

There's a meanspiritedness about this writing that makes it unfunny. And the Utah joke was cheap and predictable. Written by a snarky rich girl who has no sense of the world outside of Los Angeles. I wish you and your partner the best, but hope you find some perspective and lose some elitism.

Diane L. said...

I think Annie is a good writer, but sometimes her set-up then punchline style seems dated. She's too young to need a snare drum. I think she should post a blog that her Dad never sees until it's live online. Then it would be 100% her voice and her experience.

Chris said...

Yeah, we get it, you're better than the other people in the audience.

Mary Stella said...

Wow, Kim. Were you and Annie once up for the same job but she got it?

Erika said...

This is FUNNY. Your daughter's a natural.

Johnny Walker said...

And what's wrong with Puffy Paint???

Just kidding. I think the Carson "Permanent Guest Host" thing is a great idea.

Brent said...

I must admit, 35 years ago or so I'd have killed to get on The Price is Right just for the off chance of meeting Dian Parkinson...

But I also have to agree about the Utah/polygamy thing. Overdone. WAY overdone, and not funny anymore. If it ever was.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with Steve, Kim, Diane L, Chris, and Mary Stella .

This was a condescending snark piece with obvious and dated punch lines. The only thing missing was a reference to flyover country.

iain said...

Yikes, if some people think Ms. Levine is too "mean," I hope they never read anything by likes of P.J. O'Rourke or Christopher Hitchens.

The Levine family should feel really, really bad for forcing them to come here & read free content!

leemats said...

I once saw Patton Oswalt in line and his shirt said "Drewbacca" "Nancy Drew" and "The Drewsitania."

John said...

I just think, looking at the top photo, that Bill Cullen's really put on weight in the last 50 years.

Joel Keller said...

Did Annie notice that Drew, because big nerd frames and skinny lapels/ties are in, basically looks like his '80s/early '90s standup persona now, only about 80 pounds thinner? Think about that: he was making fun of that look 20 years ago, figuring looking like a shop teacher was a good gimmick to lead into his funny stand-up. Now, that look, minus the crew-cut, is "high fashion" (I wear big nerd frames myself, after years of trying to go as tiny as possible with my specs).

Carol said...

Yeesh. Some Negative Nellies on this comment thread. I thought it was a very amusing post, and I don't see any elitism at all. But who knows, maybe I'm an elitist. I'm from South Jersey though. Can one be elite if one is from the Garden part of the Garden State?

Anonymous said...

iain,
There is difference between mocking politicians, the mainstay of P.J. O'Rourke and Christopher Hitchens, and being condescending to the bread and butter viewers and the excited out of towner's on TPIR who get to briefly touch the magic that is Hollywood:-)

This blog is a wonderful insight into the inner workings of the industry and is much admired and appreciated. But I'm not sure Ken would agree that the only people who can be here are those that agree with every word written and never offer their own take on a "comedy piece" .

Anonymous said...

I don't agree with the humorless Mormon commenters. I thought it was a funny post and Ken might get aced out of his own blog. :) Julie, Burlington, Iowa

benson said...

Just a quick FYI to the folks offended by the Mormon comment. Don't go see Book of Mormon on Broadway (or anywhere else_.

You'll be glad you didn't.

Amy K. Bredemeyer said...

I liked this post. I laughed in several places. But, maybe I'm biased because I attended a taping of TPIR last July (my episode won't air until June), so some of the experiences are fresh in my mind. I'm nowhere near as amusing, but if you want to read more about the process to attend the taping, here's a shameless plug: http://www.thetalkingbox.com/2012/08/going-to-price-is-right.html

RCP said...

"I went from mumbling “I hate this” to screaming “PICK THE KAYAK!” in sixty-seconds flat."

My favorite laugh from this funny account. But Annie and Jon: Why be such meanies to the Mormons? Next thing you know, you'll be raising millions of dollars to produce television commercials playing on people's worst fears of Mormons, then putting up millions more to place Mormon rights up to a vote. Oh wait.

Anonymous said...

Dont think I read any "humorless mormon commentators", just a few comments on the inappropriateness of mocking one religion

If you want to be "edgy" mock Islam, see how that works out for you.

If some people didn't pick low hanging fruit they would starve.

BTW, I am agnostic, but think that mocking an easy religious target is just a cheap shot.

Charles H. Bryan said...

My wife who reads blogs for me was deeply offended, but my wife who buys the groceries thought it was funny. My wife who likes to talk as if she's in the industry (but she's really just a poser) was surprised that they actually do pick-ups at a freakin' game show. My wife who's in charge of judgmentalism (and frankly reminds me of my mother) thinks that people who would go through all of that just to be on a game show (outside of anthropological curiosity) deserve a little disdain. She and my blog-reading wife get together and complain about internet postings and humorless oversensitive people. I married well, each and every time.

Tip for the aspiring polygamist: if you like to avoid awkward moments, call all your wives "Honey" or "Sweatheart", even when you have just two. Just trust me -- and my bruised shin bone -- on that.

(BTW, great post, Annie & Jon.)

chuckcd said...

Annie at "The Price Is Right"?
Is this another April Fools joke?

XJill said...

Awww, Annie I CAN'T believe you didn't make a cheesy/gaudy shirt, that's part of the whole experience. I still have mine (it says "I heart Plinko") Anyway, I haven't been in a few years, this makes me want to go again.

Anonymous said...
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Norm said...

Annie, your Dad is a big-time Hollywood Writer/Director and couldn't get you seats in the 2nd Row - which is where I sat when I worked for CBS and took a friend back in the 70's!

Go again - you'll have a better time.

Ane said...

I've never seen The price is right and I don't know the concept (it doesn't air here) but I still have a pretty good idea of what it is, because everyone keeps mocking it. Sitcoms, standup comedians, columnists... I remember when a character on Gilmore Girls went on it and paid for it when he returned.
What Annie wrote about it didn't seem bad to me. Appearantly it's the kind of show it is fun to make fun of. Annie, please don't care what those sour-pusses say.

Mike Barer said...

Hey,Annie I remember having to put my proper name on the huge name tag. We also learned that George butchers most names. They may not even know they were called if the kid didn't hold up a placcard behind the cameras. I never was a big fan of the show, but it's the first time that I've been on National TV.
I thought that this was a funny piece. I think that the cruel people are the commenterd who are ganging up on you. Keep up the good work. You are a DOLL!

Mary Stella said...

Carol asked:
I'm from South Jersey though. Can one be elite if one is from the Garden part of the Garden State?

Heck yeah. I'm from South Jersey and, after reading the comments that followed mine, decided I'm far too elitist to be lumped in with Steve, Chris, Diane L. and Kim in someone's Anonymous comment.

Anonymous, I was disagreeing with Kim about Annie's post, which I found funny and entertaining. If that makes me a snarky rich girl who's ripe with elitism, at least I'm in great company. I'd also like to enjoy the "rich" part.

Maya said...

That's look good don't blame people by their tag name lol. That was a beautiful think they could do just for fun.

Phil In Phoenix said...

Well Ken, it seems Annie has lost the Mormon demo for you.

Jesus Christ(Of Latter-day Saints)people! Have a sense of humor! ("What's So Funny? How To Sharpen Your Sense Of Humor" [Paperback]by Paul Moran; actual retail price: $10.95). It's not a Veteran's Day memorial she's writing about. It's a taping of "The Price Is Right". It's supposed to be silly and a freak show.

It's not like Annie said the Utah couple were wearing t-shirts saying "We 'heart' Drew, Warren Jeffs, and 13 Year Old Wives". Or that the whole experience made her want to pull a Michael Osmond.

Now THAT might have been out of line.

Dale said...

If you have friends or family who come to LA wanting to see a TV show taped, THE PRICE IS RIGHT isn't a bad choice. It's not difficult to get in, people tend to have a good time despite themselves, and it goes pretty quickly. The days when sitcom shootings were fun ended when it went from taking 90 minutes to tape the things to taking several hours. The Bowery Boys shot entire feature films in less time than it took to tape an episode of FRIENDS.

Steve said...

Steve here, original commenter regarding the Mormon/Utah joke. I'm not Mormon. I've never even been to Utah. I could care less that it was a "Mormon/Utah" joke, had it been funny.

The problem is that it was just a lame, hacky joke, the equivalent of "White guys talk like this, black guys talk like this," or "If the black box can survive a plane crash, why don't they just make the whole plane out of the black box??" Cheap, tired amateur-hour material.

No, nobody forces me to read this blog. But nobody forces a budding writer to try out her material on us, either. And it wasn't good. So there you go.

Storm said...

I have a similar problem with my whole first name situation. I've been called Storm since I was 15 (yes, after the X-Men character), because I have a really weird French first name that most people can't remember, much less pronouce. There have been WAY too many times that I was in a situation where I had to use my "real" first name, listened intently for it to be called, only to not hear it and be told "We called your name 20 minutes ago". No, you said some weird Moon Language word, that was never my name!

Dr. Pulaski: "DAY-ta, DAT-ta, what's the difference?"

Data: "One is my name. The other is not."

Cheers, thanks a lot,

Storm

Javier Silva said...

I totally DISagree with Steve, Kim, Diane L, Chris, and Mary Stella .

mike said...

Annie's writing is usually pretty funny, but this one was a miss. Negative and mean-spirited. Next time.

Cap'n Bob said...

When I used to watch that show I always had one though: Do the women get as excited in bed as they do when Drew Carey tells them they just won a blender?

Anonymous said...

I actually enjoyed this post. I absolutely adore TPIR and would really love to see a taping live and in person. The revelation that they do re-takes of contestants running down to the stage is hysterical and not at all surprising. If the blogger was a paid professional writer, I'd expect a better written piece. But since they're just commoners like the rest of us, I appreciated the insight.

Anonymous said...

I have enjoyed TPIR since I was a very young child going back to the '70s. I even attended one of Johnny Olsen's last TPIR's when he was the announcer, before he passed on from a stroke in 1985.

I will always equate TPIR as Bob Barker's show.

When Bob retired in 2007 I thought the show was done. I watched a few episodes (only parts of the show) and Drew Carey was painfully dull.

On a rare occasion do I ever view morning television, but last year when I was on vacation I thought I'd watch a wee bit of TPIR. Ok, so Drew shed some pounds, a different announcer (much more obnoxious), unruly audience and hyper contestants, and the dull Drew Carey.

I flipped off my TV and sat out on my back patio with a nice cup of green tea and the sounds of nature.