Friday, November 4, 2011

And the Survey Says... When Buckeyes go to Hollywood

            Here's a true story about a game show experience.


            Years ago, my sister-in-law had us audition at an Eastlake hotel for an appearance on the "Family Feud" game show.


            I didn't really think it would go anywhere.


            I was wrong.


            We were selected to fly to Hollywood and appear on the daytime version of "Family Feud".


            I was the guy or the end, you know, the family member who is there as the husband of one of the family members.  I was pretty sure that, being on the end of the panel, I'd get the least attention.


            Again I was wrong.


            I was Mayor of Euclid at the time and the producers decided to designate me as the head of the family – my wife's family!


            They made this switch, transforming me from the barely noticed to the spokesman and team captain only five minutes before we went  live on National TV!




            The Host was a wonderful  TV personality named Ray Combs who was beloved  by the Family Feud Production staff because of his professionalism and kindness.


            Apparently this was quite a contrast to his predecessor, Richard Dawson, who launched the original show.


            Dawson was notorious for kissing female contestants and acting like a jerk off the air.


            Well, it all came to a crashing halt as we were eliminated on our very first day.  We came home, tails between our legs, better off for the experience but disappointed.


            A few months later, we received a phone call.


            My wife's family was so engaging that they wanted us to return and appear on the night- time version of "The Feud".


            So off we went again, this time competing for larger prizes and before a bigger audience. 


            The producer, a man affectionately known as "Howie",  greeted us like old friends.  They gave us a rental car, spending money (were they nuts?) and put us up in a posh hotel.


            The same old set felt like our home court in Television City in Hollywood.  By the way, the sets look great on TV but up close they are pretty cheap and much smaller than what viewers see.


            We were veterans and we were ready!



            We rolled to victory and we went into the bonus round where lurked substantially larger prize money.


            In this part of the game, two players provide responses to survey questions hoping to match the most popular answers.


            My wife's sister went first while I contemplated life in a sound-proof booth that played elevator music to ensure that I couldn't hear the questions.


            Released from my cubicle, it all fell on me.


            The last question, the one where I needed a good response,  was this:  Name something people do with snow.


            I said build a snowman.  Ray said try again  because this answer  had already been given.


            With only 3 seconds to spare I blurted "make snowballs!"


            A suspenseful revelation of the point totals a moment later said that "make snowballs" was the number one answer and we won the grand prize!


            We went home, the conquering heroes.


            Now it's all sort of faded away and I realize how shallow the whole process was.  People acting excited just to win a few bucks on television.


            Ray Combs committed suicide shortly after that, the  victim of pain pill addiction after a serious car accident.


            Sometimes I pause to consider this: When it snows, do you first think Frosty or  snowball fights? The correct answer could earn you big cash…or just some great memories.      

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