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I Felt the Earth Move Under My Feet
August 5

Also available as a podcast. Click to listen!

We start this week with a little bit of a definition and this is the from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary: RIG: to manipulate or control esp. by deceptive or dishonest means. So when an article came out this week that was headlined: "The Price is Wrong" on tmz.com... it peaked my interest.

But here is how they described it: "Come on down! You're the next producer to get spayed or neutered!" Big wigs at "The Price is Right" can't be too happy after a malfunction with the Plinko game last week cost the show over $30,000.

According to multiple TMZ sources, the show's famous Plinko game had been rigged to hit the $10,000 slot for a commercial they were shooting on set for the "Price" video game before the taping. After the commercials were done, however, some bonehead forgot to reset the game. And that's when it got interesting for one contestant.

When a woman who won the chance to play Plinko started dropping her chips, they each landed in the $10,000 slot! It wasn't 'til she hit it -- for a third time -- that producers figured out what was going on, stopped rolling tape and explained the mishap to the poor contestant. Then they took all her chips and started the game over! Where's Bob Barker when you need him??

With no assistance from the rigged game, she only won a measly $3000. The show, not wanting to screw her out of some serious cash, decided to give her the $3k plus the $30k she had already plunked."

Now...everyone is having a huge cow over this. I think this is the biggest non-story this year. Let me explain why.

1. First of all the game WAS NOT rigged. Going by the dictionary definition, there was no deception or dishonesty there. It was, in my opinion, an honest mistake. Yes, it was stupid. Yes, it was moronic...because you are supposed to check, double check and triple check everything.

2. Mistakes happen. Everyone is jumping to the conclusion that "If Roger Dobkowitz were there, this wouldn't have happened." Very specious logic. We have seen mechanical failures on air and technical wins during the 36 years of TPIR...if you are we going to follow that logic to it's logical conclusion, then it was Roger's fault and should have been to blame for every technical win over the last 36 years, right? Sorry, I don't buy this.

3. This is a calculated effort on the press to bring down TPIR. Now, I may be venturing into the UFO's and Black Op territory here, I believe there is a concerted effort within the game show and fan community to bring down the show. It's either Bob Barker, or no one else. Ratings are down 18%, blame Drew Carey. The show isn't the same...blame Drew Carey. I am tired of this.

The same reaction that happened when Roger was fired, was the same reaction that people on Golden-Road had when this happened.

Why don't we praise the producers for doing the right thing for giving her the $30,000 and a bonus of $3K when she played the game a second time?

So, the world goes on...mistakes were made...move on people...nothing to see here.


Last week, I put in my random newsbits that Des O'Connor was leaving the British Game Show Classic, "Countdown". Now, try this nuclear bomb on for size: According to Digital Spy: Carol Volderman, the hostess for the past 26 years on Countdown has quit the show. Let's follow the timeline:

On July 25, the announcement was made. On July 27, Daniel Kilkelly reported the claim of Ms. Volderman that she was "forced out" and take a 90% pay cut. "I was in shock and absolutely distraught at their ultimatum," Carol told the News of the World. "After putting my heart and soul into the show for 26 years I was given just 48 hours to decide - take it or leave it.

Carol announced that she had quit the show on Friday. She was then left furious after bosses leaked information about their dispute to the press, claiming that she had demanded a 500,000 pay rise and the main hosting job.

And now...we have this: On July 28, Marcel Stellman, the Belgian businessman who owns the rights to Channel 4's Countdown, has threatened to axe the show in the wake of Carol Vorderman's departure. Vorderman confirmed her exit last week only days after host Des O'Connor announced his intentions to leave. She had claimed that producers requested she take a 90% pay cut.

Responding to Vorderman's comments, Stellman told The Mirror: "I control the format and without the format there is no show. I am upset for Carol, more than that. This is a person I have known for 26 years who started Countdown. If I am Mr. Countdown, she is Mrs. Countdown. She is delightful and loyal and cannot be treated in any other way than [with] respect. If they don't come up with things they have promised in writing, and are now being dealt with by my solicitors, from now on I don't wish to talk about the future."

Wow. Wow. Wow. First of all, a lot of game show fans (including myself) think that this show is one of the GREATEST SHOWS of all time. It's cerebral, and is addictively simple. I believe there has been too much acrimony on both sides and with the female face leaving after 26 years, the show is done. And it will be a sad day when it does.


Staying in the UK, we have another fine to report in the game show scandal of 2007. From Bloomberg News: The British Broadcasting Corp., the world's oldest public-service broadcaster, was fined 400,000 pounds ($793,000) for rigging call-in contests.

The fine is the highest penalty imposed on the broadcaster by U.K. media watchdog Ofcom, the regulator said in an e-mailed statement today. Ofcom said the London-based BBC failed to adequately manage its compliance and training procedures to ensure viewers were not misled.

``The investigations found that in some cases, the production team had taken pre-mediated decisions to broadcast competitions and encourage listeners to enter in the full knowledge that the audience stood no chance of winning,'' Ofcom said. ``In other cases, programs faced with technical problems, made up the names of winners.'' The BBC was rocked by a series of scandals last year. In July 2007, the broadcaster was fined 50,000 pounds by Ofcom after a studio guest posed as the winner of a contest during a live broadcast of the children's show ``Blue Peter.''

Since the first fine, more breaches were discovered. Ofcom said today winners of competitions in programs such as ``Children in Need,'' ``Sport Relief,'' ``Birthday Bingo,'' ``The Liz Kershaw Show,'' and ``Russell Brand'' were faked.

I have been reporting on this for months. I hope that Ofcom continues to hit these broadcasters hard in the pocketbook. Maybe then, and finally then, they will get the idea that the trust of the British public has been damaged in such a way that it may never be fully regained.


Back to the United States...and Bob Barker seems to be more busy as a retired game show host, than as the host of The Price is Right. First off, if you go to www.dtvanswers.com/30secspot, you will see Bob reminding us of the digital TV transition which happens on February 17, 2009. It's a pretty cool spot.

And this past Tuesday Barker went to Chicago to campaign for the same basic spay and neutering law that has been passed in Los Angeles earlier this year.

The ordinance would "prevent tremendous animal suffering, but beyond that it will save the taxpayers of Chicago thousands, millions of dollars" by reducing the need to shelter and euthanize animals, he said.

I think the Barker is doing a very cool thing by continuing to put his time, money, effort and energy into animal causes. I hope the law in Chicago passes.


A few pieces of Big Brother news: First in the US...we have a contest. And America's Player...is back! From the St. Louis Post Dispatch: Big Brother 10 will bring back the popular America's Player segment that debuted in "Big Brother 8," in which viewers will have the opportunity to vote to decide which current Houseguest will be given the chance to be the new America's Player.

The Houseguest with the most votes will be offered the chance to become America's Player for one week. If they accept, they will do America's bidding and will have the opportunity to win a total of $20,000. They will be asked to make moves that are both personal and strategic, from getting certain Houseguests nominated for eviction to convincing their fellow Houseguests to vote for who America wants out of the house. Most importantly, they can never tell anyone in the house that they are working on behalf of viewers and they need to be careful... because, just like their fellow Houseguests, they can be voted out at any time. Viewers will be able to vote on cbs.com or via text messaging from their mobile phone. Joy.

Did anyone catch the video of the Big Brother housemates trying to deal with the earthquake? How funny was that? I mean, I never knew that the best way to deal with your life in an earthquake was to take off your shirt, did you?

And in the UK...the last eviction on Big Brother was watched by a record low 2.5M viewers. A betting outfit has it 7-4 that Big Brother 10 in the UK will happen in 2009. I am not shocked. If it goes away in the UK...which I think it will do...it will not be far behind that the US follows suit.


Let's end this week, with the Random News bits...shall we?

-The World Poker Tour makes a deal to air in India...while Mike Sexton calls the WPT move to FSN...a good fit.

-Matt Grant and Shayne Lamas break up...and not a person reading this is shocked. And Graham Bunn is dating the co-host of "You Rock, Let's Roll."

-Former VP Dan Quayle is rumored to be on the cast list for "Dancing With the Stars".

-"America's Got Talent" judge David Hasselhoff is going driving on "Top Gear US". He also, according to a radio interview with WABC-AM radio host Mark Simone wants to bring back "What's My Line" to TV. I think he should be speaking to J. Keith Van Straaten to see how it is done.

-Gordon Ramsay almost drowns while filming in Iceland.

-Mario Lopez is in as the new host of "Extra."

-The Nominees for Best Reality Show host (Jeff Probst, Tom Bergeron, Howie Mandel, Ryan Seacrest and Heidi Klum) will host the Emmy Awards.

-Drew Carey does Shakespeare as the narrator of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in Ohio.

-Ryan Seacrest is bitten by a shark. And the shark took no damage.

-Nina Garcia moves to Marie Claire on Sept. 2..

-and Chris Brown, JD Roth and Mark Burnett are teaming up for a new reality show.

That's all for this time.. This is Jason Block for the Block Party Podcast saying... remember...be safe...and don't just play fair...play to win.

Jason Block sees the skies tumbling down... Tumbling down. E-mail him at jb.regis@verizon.net.