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What I Did On My Summer Vacation
July 27

Also available as a podcast. Click to listen!

We start this time around with some blockbuster news at CBS. Multiple sources are reporting that the game show revival of Pyramid has been passed over for the 2nd time. The show that has been given the green light is a talk show hosted by Julie Chen—the wife of CBS Chief Executive Les Moonves.

The concept is this: a variation of ABC’s popular talk show “The View,” but with five moms meeting around the table. The moms in question…Sara Gilbert, Sharon Osbourne, Holly Robinson Peete, Leah Remini, and Marissa Jaret Winokur. Ms. Gilbert developed the format for the show, and will executive-produce as well as co-host it.

New York Magazine reported Wednesday that Ms. Chen will give up her daily co-hosting job on CBS’s “The Early Show,” but “may maintain a presence” in some way. Ms. Chen is also the host of the CBS summer reality show “Big Brother.” The network says the untitled talk show will look at “topical events and contemporary issues through the eyes of parents”.

I am shaking my head at this one. There were a lot of signs that showed that the logical replacement should have been “Pyramid”. Not only was “Let’s Make A Deal” a ratings success but Wayne Brady scored a Daytime Emmy nomination in his first year as host. And Deal helped bolster the ratings of “The Price is Right” to their best numbers in the Drew Carey era.

This decision REEKS of nepotism. I don’t see this show lasting one season at most. I still think that there will be a game show revival at the daytime level, but this decision doesn’t bode well for game show fans.

Speaking of decision that rocked the game show world, the news was finally confirmed this week that Rich Fields is now OUT as the announcer of the Price is Right. In a statement that he released on his website, Rich Fields had some very interesting things to say. You can tell that Rich doesn’t like the decision at all by saying, “I have been given the "OK" from the show's executive producer Mike Richards and Fremantle executive Jen Mullen to inform you as to their plans for my now vacated position. Mike and Jen have told me that they will be holding on-air auditions to fill the announcer position with... an improv comic.

Mike explained to me that he loves having the "house bands" and "live performers" all the time on TPIR and that he hopes to make it more of a "variety show within a game show". He believes that having a comedian at the announcer's position from now on will enhance this new change in direction. I wish them the best of luck with season 39 and beyond. I really do. I don't want Drew's new "love" to go sour for any reason. Hosting that show brings Drew (and many other people) a lot of joy.

He continues: “Let me also cut down on internet speculation by saying that Drew Carey had nothing to do with this "change in direction". Drew has been my biggest champion. He and I will remain friends forever regardless of what happens to The Price is Right. I want to publicly thank Drew for all of his support for me. Drew is a dear friend, like a brother, and has helped me in more ways than you'll ever know. He is one of the only people here in Hollywood that has never B.S.'d me about anything.

I want to thank Mr. Barker for making my life-long dream come true in the first place. I had a great run. Thank you, Bob. “

The confirmation of Rich’s departure confirms weeks of speculation which first surfaced on Golden-road.net. Rich was one of the last vestiges of the Barker era and his release confirms that Price is going to continue in the new direction which was mostly successful this last season. As long as the comic does not overstep his bounds and knows his role, I will be cautious to see how this works.

Will Rich Fields have the lasting legacy of Johnny Olson or Rod Roddy? Probably not. But his announcing was professional and he did respect the game show community. He made many appearances at multiple Game Show Congresses and was very approachable. And his voice will live on in Price is Right slot machines and video games, including the recent beta of the Price is Right Facebook game.

The 2nd piece of Price news over the last couple of weeks was the publication of an amazing article in Esquire magazine. The link is here: http://www.esquire.com/features/impossible/price-is-right-perfect-bid-0810?click=main_sr

This article covers the perfect bid scandal on the Price is Right which occurred on the taping of September 22, 2008. It profiles it from the view of the contestant Terry Kniess, the production staff of Price, and Ted Slauson. Slauson was a Price is Right contestant in 1992, and he kept coming back to the show. When he went to the show, it was his 37th time at the show. Slauson was the man who fed the exact price of $23,743 to Terry.

The most interesting part of the piece was the reaction of the production staff. Carey thought that Ted was a plant sent in by the internet to take down the show. He says “Everybody thought someone had cheated. We'd just fired Roger Dobkowitz, and all the fan groups were upset about it…I remember asking, 'Are we ever going to air this?' And nobody could see how we could. So I thought the show was never going to air. I thought somebody had cheated us, and I thought the whole show was over. I thought they were going to shut us down, and I thought I was going to be out of a job."

We have all seen what the perfect bid has done for the show. The production staff got off their collective rear ends and revamped the prize list to include more unique prizes. However, as this season has shown, the perfect bid has caused the contestant coordinators to be looking in a different direction when selecting contestants on the line. They have tilted the balance away from game play and towards energetic loud contestants who may not have as much game knowledge.

This article is one of the best pieces of game show journalism ever. It is a must read.

We stay at CBS with the return of Big Brother. The big idea of a Big Brother Saboteur lasted all of…13 days. Not only did 27 year old Annie Whittington get evicted, she got booted with a 10-0 unanimous vote. I have loved the craziness on the show, especially on After Dark. But the quote of the year has to be from Britney Haynes. In the opening HOH challenge on Episode 1, she kept falling down and said “I lost my dignity on a slippery weiner.” And who hasn’t?

Block Party Quick Hits Time:

--MySpace is one way you can audition for “Don’t Forget the Lyrics.”

--Rumors are surfacing that former Dallas Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson is a contestant on Survivor: Nicaragua.

--Cartoon Network is the latest home for “Hole In the Wall”. It has been picked up for 10 episodes and casting has begun.

--Chris Isaak and Harry Connick Jr are the latest names touted to replace Simon Cowell.

--Piers Morgan is THISCLOSE to signing on to CNN to replace Larry King who is retiring in the fall. But he isn’t going anywhere far from America’s Got Talent. He recently re-upped as a judge through 2013.

--Masterchef debuts next week on Fox.

--While Endemol Asia sells 1 v.100 to Indonesia, it has been cancelled on XBOX Live in a somewhat surprising decision.

--Jeff Probst officiates the wedding of Jenna Fischer.

--The New York Times profiles the ratings upswing of Minute It to Win It. And for every 1,000 games pitched, 150 make it.

--Will Bethenny Frankel be smarter than a 5th Grader? Find out this fall as she tapes an episode.

--Lifetime reveals the next contestants for Project Runway.

--Downfall ends one episode early. Host Chris Jericho tweeted, “Downfall wasn't pulled or cancelled. Due to a faster paced edited show, we simply ran out of contestants after the fifth show and didn't have enough material for a sixth show. We're gonna film more episodes in the fall. Sorry haters."

An ABC representative has since confirmed those remarks, per a story from Headline Planet. As it turns out, because the show was edited to be particularly fast-paced, all viable contestant footage was used in the first five episodes, and there was not enough material to produce a sixth. So all episodes that were produced will indeed have aired come next Tuesday’s finale.

Regarding Chris Jericho’s comment that there are plans to film additional episodes of “Downfall” this fall, ABC would not confirm or deny plans to order episodes of the series beyond next Tuesday’s finale, only telling Headline Planet that there has not yet been an order given to the show, and that if the show were to come back, it would again be as a summer series. In that regard, the representative confirmed that the network doesn’t “know plans this far out for next summer.”

Jason Block will finally get a vacation soon enough. E-mail him at jiblock@yahoo.com.