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The World Hasn't Come To An End... At Least Not Yet
July 15

Also available as a podcast. Click to listen!

As soon as I finished recording last week’s phone and IM’s exploded... "Did you hear? Did you hear?" And of course, we have the stunning news that Roger Dobkowitz, the 36 yr veteran of The Price is Right since its daytime inception on September 4, 1972 was let go or fired–depending on the version of the story. FremantleMedia, the parent company of the show wants to take the show in a "new direction."

Let me break it down for you in the only way I know how. First off, let’s look at it from the Dob’s perspective. He got hosed, screwed, or whatever you call it. He was a major remnant of the Barker era, and if you were going to go into that new direction...he had to go. What we do know is this, according to, Kathy Greco has assumed the role of Producer, with Stan Blits, Sue MacIntyre, and Adam Sandler assisting for the time being with the tasks assigned to Roger. Also, the show is scheduled to make the full transition to HD in the fall, along with a new pricing game.

That is all we know at this time. Everything else is unconfirmed speculation.

And speaking of when the news broke the reaction they had was, to put it mildly, a bit presumptive. They(and a lot of members of the community on it) treated the departure of Dobkowitz and the rumored radical changes as if a family member had died. It was the typical overblown "The World is Over" fanboy reaction. It was the same way when new host Drew Carey was chosen over Todd Newton to replace long running host Bob Barker in 2007. But this time, they closed down most of the website for a few days, depriving the casual fans their #1 fan created source of Price News. This always happens in radio and TV when a political commentator or disk jockey says something they don’t like. "I will never watch or listen to you again" is the usual refrain...until the next time.

A lot of people have still not given Drew Carey a chance because he isn’t Bob Barker. And that is a shame, because a) they are unfairly blaming the 15-20% ratings drop on him and b) that is being incredibly closed minded...because he is doing a damn good job at the end of his first complete season.

Where do we go from here? Believe it or not, I am cautiously optimistic. I don’t believe that FremantleMedia will "radically change" TPIR to the point where it becomes unrecognizable to the casual fan. If they do it, it is suicidal. And I don’t think they want to strangle the golden goose.

And as for the fan reaction...sorry, but grow up. Changes in life happen. I am not ready to jump off the cliff yet. Until we get LEGITIMATE, CONFIRMED CHANGES from the July 20 tapings and beyond, it is just speculation.

Finally, a thank you to Mr. Dobkowitz, who I had the pleasure of speaking to on my last trip to California. He is one of the classier guys in this business, and I am sorry he had to go out this way...not on his own terms. But, life goes on, people. Life goes on.

Last week, I reported to you on the teasers that Sony has been promising for Season 26. Now, we have a confirmation from Sony itself: For 25 years, enthusiastic contestants shouting "big money!" have been a trademark of the Wheel of Fortune experience. Beginning Monday, September 8, the most popular game show in television history will give the players something really big to shout about: the all-new Million Dollar Bonus Round.

A One Million Dollar Wedge will be in play through the first three rounds. If a contestant lands on the wedge, solves the puzzle and makes it to the Bonus Round without hitting bankrupt, they will have the chance to spin the bonus wheel and could be playing for a top cash prize of $1 million.

"Raising the stakes so dramatically could make this our richest season ever," said Executive Producer Harry Friedman. "And our viewers can share in the thrill of knowing that on every show, one of our contestants could have the chance to become a millionaire. The Wheel of Fortune Million Dollar Bonus Round promises to become the most exciting 10 seconds on television."

The ball is now is SAG’s Court now. And this is from The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) announced today that AFTRA members ratified a new three-year primetime television agreement (Exhibit A of the AFTRA Network Television Code) reached with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) by a 62.4% margin.

AFTRA—the nation’s second largest performers’ union—represents more than 70,000 actors, recording artists, broadcasters, and other talent working in the entertainment and media industries. AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon made the following statement:

"Today’s vote reflects the ability of AFTRA members to recognize a solid contract when they see it. Despite an unprecedented disinformation campaign aimed at interfering with our ratification process, a majority of members ultimately focused on what mattered—the obvious merits of a labor agreement that contains substantial gains for every category of performer in both traditional and new media. Clearly, this was not a typical ratification process, and it would be disingenuous to pretend otherwise. To those of us for whom labor solidarity is more than just a slogan, the idea that politically-motivated leaders of one union would use their members’ dues to attack another union is unconscionable. Working people do not benefit when their union is under attack.

"For the sake of our members, organized labor must be united, especially in a world of ever-increasing corporate consolidation. Given this, AFTRA leadership is eager to focus on several important initiatives in the months to come:

1) Building on the suggestion of our valued supporters, we will seek to organize a summit of top actors, performers, and union leaders to engage in a thoughtful, constructive discussion of how we can achieve unity among performers—and ultimately, if feasible, merger of the performers’ unions.

2) Given that working men and women accomplish more when we work together with trust and mutual respect, we will ask the leadership of the AFL-CIO AEMI ICC unions, the DGA, WGA, and others in the labor community to come together well in advance of the next round of contract negotiations to explore ways of maximizing the leverage of entertainment industry workers.

3) Finally, I intend to promptly review with our National elected leadership and the Presidents of all AFTRA Locals the conditions needed to restore trust to re-establish joint bargaining on our respective commercials contracts.

"I sincerely appreciate the committed work of the negotiating committee, elected leaders, the labor community, and individual activist members of AFTRA who worked tirelessly and publicly to secure this solid contract for television industry performers. I am especially grateful for the support of many joint members of SAG and AFTRA—such as those in Chicago, Florida, Houston, Nashville, New York, Portland, San Francisco, and Seattle—who displayed courage in the face of potential retribution, by taking a stand against disunity with the power of truth and solidarity."

Negotiations with the AMPTP over the AFTRA Primetime TV contract began on May 7. They concluded on May 28 with a tentative agreement that was unanimously recommended for approval by AFTRA’s 31-member negotiating committee. The AFTRA National Board of Directors overwhelmingly approved the primetime television contract on June 7 and recommended the deal to members, which was ratified today. The new contract is effective from July 1, 2008, through June 30, 2011.

AFTRA contracts cover more than 70% of the programming hours on major network television.

AFTRA primetime TV dramas and situation comedies include "Rules of Engagement," "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "Flight of the Conchords," "Dante’s Cove," "Til Death," "Reaper," "Project Gary," "Harper’s Island," "Roman’s Empire," and the new "90210."

The AFTRA Network Code, which was ratified by AFTRA members on April 30, also covers actors and all on-camera and off-camera talent on all forms of television programming: reality shows, syndicated dramas, daytime serials, game shows, talk shows, variety and musical programs, news, sports, and promotional announcements. Programs covered by the Code include "American Idol," "Dancing with the Stars," "Late Show with David Letterman," "Good Morning America," "20/20," "The View," "The Tonight Show," "Oprah," "The Price is Right," "Deal or No Deal," "America’s Next Top Model," "Days of Our Lives," "All My Children," "Cake," "Saturday Night Live," "Entertainment Tonight," and "Survivor," among others.

My guess is now, SAG will HAVE to settle sooner rather than later. They do not want to have another strike on their hands alone.

Now, the next story is close to my heart....because I can finally announce that the reason why I was away in May and June of this year was the fact that I taped an appearance on this next show.

"Catch-21" is premiering July 21, 2008 on GSN. And here is more about it from PR Newswire:

GSN announced today the premiere of "Catch-21" an original, 40-episode-series, beginning on Monday July 21st at 7:30PM E/6:30PM C. The new television series, created by executive producer Merrill Heatter and executive produced by Scott Sternberg, comes to GSN with fast-action entertainment that blends pop trivia with the tension-filled excitement of the classic card game, 21. Alfonso Ribeiro makes his game show host debut quizzing contestants three at a time, as they compete to win larger-than-life playing cards and try to build the closest hand to 21. With every card they are dealt, contestants gain the power to make their opponent's hand worse by passing their card. The popular online casual game, "Catch-21", was created by WorldWinner and is available on

Harnessing the popularity of the "Catch-21" online game, the new "Catch-21" is the latest example of a true cross-platform collaboration for GSN. One of the top games on, the online game challenges players to speed through a deck of cards to make as many 21s as possible within the time limit. Hundreds of thousands of online game players now have the opportunity to enjoy their favorite casual game as a TV show, while TV viewers can become contestants by logging on and competing against other players for cash and prizes. "Catch-21" will also be available as a free Flash game on and AOL's, and as a free, advertising-supported mobile game, developed in collaboration with mobile publisher Cellufun.

"Merrill Heatter is a legend and he and Scott Sternberg Productions have done an amazing job bringing this classic card game to life in a fun way that engages the audience," said Jamie Roberts, Senior Vice President of Programming, GSN. "Alfonso really embraced his first role as a game show host and his enthusiasm and personality shine through to the contestants, audience and viewers alike."

Veteran game show producer and four-time Emmy Award winner, Heatter said, "The anticipation element that viewers will experience with every turn of a card will keep the viewer at the edge of their seats and invite them to play-along with every decision the contestants make."

Ribeiro, who's well-known for his role on the hit 90's show "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" and his $100,000 win on "Celebrity Duets" (donated to charity), makes his game show host debut and said of his experience, "Working with GSN and Merrill Heatter has been a great first opportunity. Tune in and check it out for yourself. It's definitely a catch!"

This show is part knowledge, part nerve and part strategy, every correct answer is a chance to add a card and build a better hand or pass the card and "bust" the competition. Putting a twist on a classic and very familiar game, players match wits and put victory on the line in every round with the turn of a card and the next correct answer. In addition, every correct answer gives a player control of the deck and the option of "freezing" their hand to protect themselves from being "busted" later in the round.

After three elimination rounds of exhilarating game-play, the last player standing takes on the house for a shot at up to $25,000 cash in the final prize round. The day's winner draws from a larger-than-life deck and gets three concurrent chances to build 21, and the use of up to three "power chips" (collected for each round won) to discard unwanted cards. With the potential cash prize increasing with every hand successfully built to 21, the jackpot is theirs if the player is able to build all three hands to 21.

This new television series was created by executive producer Merrill Heatter, whose credits include creating and producing "The Hollywood Squares," "High Rollers," "Gambit" and more than 30 other television series. Sternberg's game show credits include "Rock and Roll Jeopardy," two seasons of "That's The Question" for GSN, and "The Gong Show." GSN's latest franchise endeavor deals a full deck of fun and entertainment.

Leading up to the premiere of "Catch-21", GSN will broadcast "The Making of a Game Show: Catch-21", a 30-minute behind-the-scenes special that will provide viewers with inside access to the show with interviews and exclusive footage featuring Ribeiro. The behind-the-scenes special will air on Saturday July 19th at 4:00PM E/3:00PM C and Sunday July 20th at 2:00PM E/1:00PM C and 10:00PM E/9:00PM C.

Following original runs of "Catch-21", weeknights at 7:30PM E/6:30PM C, repeat episodes will air Tuesdays through Saturdays at 10:00PM E/9:00PM C and Sundays at 10:00PM E/9:00PM C and 10:30PM E /9:30PM C.

Has Big Brother gotten – smart? After last year’s Adam Jasinski debacle...they better have. This is the story about Big Brother 10...which debuted last Sunday. From the AP: "Big Brother 10" is returning to its roots.

The claustrophobic CBS reality show is sealing 13 actual strangers — no ex lovers, secret twin partners or long-lost siblings this time — inside a makeshift house on a Studio City soundstage for the chance to be the last houseguest standing and take home the $500,000 grand prize.

"There’s somebody for everyone in this cast," executive producer Allison Grodner recently told The Associated Press at CBS Radford Studios. "It’s going to be interesting to see people that come from such opposite worlds living together, which has always been a part of this show, but this season, we really do have our most diverse group ever."

The contestants — which will include a high school teacher from Dearborn, gay bull rider, a Hooters waitress, a professional bodybuilder and a 75-year-old former Marine — will spend the summer competing in challenges and evicting each other while being monitored by over 50 cameras. It’s the first time since the show’s third season that the houseguests are all strangers.

"When approaching this season, we wanted to look at what made this spark and last for 10 seasons," said Grodner, who’s worked on "Big Brother" since the second season. "Every season had its unique twist. I think, in a way, going back to basics and having the cast be all strangers is part of the twist of ’10.’ Of course, there will be more."

In last season’s first-ever winter edition of "Big Brother," which was quickly put into production because of the writers strike, contestants were partnered with each other and evicted as pairs for the first four weeks of competition. Grodner said a new "Big Brother 10" gameplay twist would be introduced during the premiere episode on Sunday.

"It’s really a power-play," teased Grodner. "The game will actually start before they enter the house." Dan Gheesling, 24, of Dearborn, has been invited to the audition finals three times.

"My personality traits will play into my strategy and make this an easy summer for me," Gheesling said.

In recent seasons, contestants have come under fire outside the house for controversial remarks made inside the house. During the eighth season, Amber Siyavus said that Jewish people tend to be "really money-hungry" and "selfish." Last season’s winner Adam Jasinski was fired by a nonprofit autism organization because he used the word "retards."

"Those types of comments are not something we want to happen," said Grodner. "It’s a live show. It’s not censored on the Internet. These are real people. We aren’t telling them what to say, but we’re not telling them what not to say either. Things do happen. We, of course, can choose what we put in the show, and we do so carefully."

This season’s contestants seem to be more aware of the repercussions of their actions from the outset. Before meeting their competitors or entering the house, the "Big Brother 10" cast was individually interviewed by the AP while they were voluntarily sequestered — no television, newspapers or telephones — from the outside world in a Studio City hotel.

"If you make a mistake and say the wrong things, you may offend people and be known for that forever," said Steven Daigle, a 35-year-old geographic consultant and gay rodeo competitor from Dallas. "People make mistakes. If I do make a mistake, I hope I can learn from it and know that was some part of my life that I was ignorant or uneducated about."

The rooms inside the "Big Brother" house this season will be themed to different decades. The kitchen, for example, resembles a ’50s diner while one of the bedrooms is filled with ’70s-inspired furnishings. The timeliness extends to this season’s crop of contestants. At 75, Gerry MacDonald will be the oldest "Big Brother" houseguest ever. "Age does not bother me," MacDonald told the AP. "I hope it doesn’t bother them."

Libra Thompson, a married 31-year-old human resources representative from Spring, Texas, left behind her husband and three children — including 4-month-old twins — to participate in "Big Brother 10." During production, Thompson and the other "Big Brother" contestants are prohibited from communicating with the outside world.

"It’s better for me that they’re younger," said Thompson of her newborns. "At four months old, they’re not going to remember much. It’s probably going to be a little bit more difficult for my 4-year-old. However, I’m going to stay focused and remember the reason I’m here, and that’s the cash. That will help me."

Prize money talks.

"I’m motivated because I’m a big fan of the show, but I’m more motivated that I have a chance to win $500,000," said Angie Swindell, a 29-year-old pharmaceutical sales representative from Orlando, Fla. "I just have to keep telling myself that if I start feeling all queasy about the 24-7 thing, there’s an end to the means."

April Dowling, a 30-year-old car dealership finance manager from Higley, Ariz., said she doesn’t think the "Big Brother" experience will be any more difficult than the time she had to spend 15 days in a "tent city" jail for drunk-driving charges. She also believes living in the house may remedy some of her obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

"I have seen a therapist," said Dowling. "They tried to put me on anti-anxiety medication, but I’m not big on prescription medication. I just don’t like to take it. I’m actually hoping the ’Big Brother’ experience will be therapeutic. My life will not end if the green beans aren’t behind the corn in the pantry."

Here is the full roster:

- Michelle Costa; 28; Cumberland, RI
- Steven Daigle; 35; Dallas
- April Dowling; 30; Higley, AZ
- Robert "Memphis" Garrett; 25; Los Angeles
- Dan Gheesling; 24; Dearborn, MI
- Jessie Godderz; 22; Huntington Beach, CA
- Brian Hart; 27; San Francisco
- Renny Martyn; 53; Metairie, LA
- Gerry McDonald; 75; Magnolia, TX
- Bryan Ollie; 27; Bloomington, MN
- Keesha Smith; 29; Burbank, CA
- Angie Swindell; 29; Orlando
- Libra Thompson; 31; Spring, TX

And I can’t end the week without another shot of Tila Tequila. Ok, I could. But this one is too good to pass up. After her tumultuous "breakup" with Kristy, she posted this poem on her MySpace page as quoted on

Can’t wait for this drama to pass.

Oh the joy…..—- you. My —.

Live a lie.

Tell my mind.

Over soon. I can’t deny.

You will all soon see, the truth in my eyes.

Smile on my face, the loving embrace….but instead I’ll punch you in the face.

For a long time coming….I let you touch me….now that it’s over —–….You better start running.

Pent up inside….telling these lies….this has gone too far…..the world will soon die.

Robert Frost, she ain’t. And besides, she isn’t going away. According to her blog, she has a new album and a book deal called "Hooking Up With Tila Tequila" which she is going to be doling out advice about relationships, sex and all that good stuff.

Let’s finish this tumultuous week with the random newsbits:

–Condolences to the family of Eric Lieber, the producer of "Love Connection" who died this past week. He was 71.

--Fuse is debuting a new music/dating show called "You Rock, Let’s Roll" on July 14.

–CBS has hired a bunch of dogs to walk around New York to promote "Greatest American Dog"...and they also have a page on which is billed as "Facebook for Dogs."

–Bob Barker may get his own street in Springfield, Missouri.

–Deutsche Telekom hires Britain’s Got Talent winner Paul Potts to star in an ad.

–Mark Burnett gets sued over alleged non-payment of Survivor profits.

–Former Deal or No Deal model Meghan Markle will be on the CW’s "Beverly Hills, 90210".

–Blind Date may come back to the UK, and Terry Wogan’s Total Recall debuts on Channel 4.

–Sarah Silverman won’t be playing the Match Game.

–Christopher Knight breaks his arm and withdraws from Celebrity Circus.

– is planning to launch an online game show.

That’s all for now. For the Block Party, this is Jason Block reminding you to take a deep breath...count to 10 and remember, don’t just play to win!

That's Jason Block on Catch-21. Watch it. E-mail him at