It all started when I was young, I guess I would climb the
stairs of my house and wait for Rod Roddy (God rest his soul)
to scream "Come on Down!" Like the contestant that never was,
I would sprint down the stairs and sit in my own contestants
row my living room couch.
written by Lee DiGeorge
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Episode 5 - "Charles
vs. Charles" (July 10)
Welcome, everyone! This week, The DiGeorge Files takes
us deep into the dark underbelly of Game Shows
In the 1950's, game shows were all the rage, including
the acclaimed Twenty-One, which was sponsored by Geritol.
As readers who are savvy moviegoers know, a critically
acclaimed movie was ultimately made of the scandal. For
all of those who are unaware of the situation, here's
the really brief history.
Herb Stempel, a reigning champion on Twenty-One, was
informed that a new contestant, Charles Van Doren, was
his challenger for the next show. He was also informed
by the producers of the television show that he would
LOSE purposely. Stempel was obviously incredibly upset
about the idea, yet did his job by losing the battle. To
add some sort of cosmic insult to injury, his final
question, which he was supposed to throw, was about one
of his favorite movies of all time.
Name the 1955 Oscar Winner for Best Picture:
Herb's forced answer: On the Waterfront
Correct answer: Marty
From there, the rest is history. The Supreme Court
ultimately got involved. New laws were passed. Quiz
shows, however, suffered a downswing. The days of prime
time game show television were gone
Until "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" in 1999.
The revitalization of a prime time game show was hitting
its stride. People were tuning in to watch what would
happen next. Part of me always wondered is this a ploy
a savvy television company to generate ratings? I
doubted that. We were watching real live quiz show drama
again until someone in the UK ruined it.
Although the news really didn't resonate in the United
States, the British version of "Who Wants to Be a
Millionaire?" gave away a million pound prize on
September 10, 2001. The problem? He cheated.
What seemed like a clever idea ultimately became a
massive lawsuit. Major Charles Ingram was wearing four
pagers, each located in strategic areas of his body.
While each question was being considered his wife would
call one of the pagers, alerting him to the correct
However, when she was unsure herself, they were
regulated to a cough system. The helping hand in this
case was a different gentleman in the contestant pool,
Tecwen Whittock. However, the Major had a problem he
enjoyed talking too much before being alerted to the
answer. There were some cases in which he would dismiss
an answer, and ultimately ended up stumped. When he
would read the answers aloud again, the cough came at
the answer he dismissed previously the correct answer.
There has been a special in the UK about it titled:
"Millionaire: A Major Fraud." Ingram, at the time a
Major in the British Army, was forced to step down from
his position because of the incident. Ultimately, the
three were convicted in a court of law and each faced
significant jail time.
How do I feel about these scandals? It makes me look at
Ken Jennings and question it all. It makes me look at
Millionaire and wait for something else to happen. It's
a train wreck of sorts. We are all disgusted by it, but
we cannot turn away. Could Jennings be getting the
answers via a headset? Probably not. Jennings probably
isn't cheating at all. However, based on the past
actions of many people, how many of us would be shocked
if he was?
For next time, please answer the following question:<% total=counter_a+counter_b%>
Is poker a sport?
A <%= formatnumber((counter_a/total)*100,1) %>%
B <%= formatnumber((counter_b/total)*100,1) %>%
Total Votes: <%= total %>
Is poker a sport? Please e-mail your answers to me.
A special thanks to Bill and Scott, always e-mailing me
with great thoughts. You guys are the reason this column