Gordon: For the second time in as many months, we're here with a breaking
news story for a GSNN Roundtable. This one, unfortunately, is not as happy as
the last news.
Chico: Afraid not, G.
Gordon: I regret to tell you all that Merv Griffin has indeed succumbed to
prostate cancer during the weekend. He was 82 years old.
Christopher: its a sad day for game shows
Philip: No question about it
Chico: They did have him as gravely ill for a couple of days.
Robert: He has fought this for many months, but eventually, he couldn't fight it
Chico: That's right.
Gordon: Joining us on the round table is Chico Alexander, Jason Block, Travis
Schario, Robert Seidelman, Buzzer's Alex Davis, Philip Cousin and from Phil's
Game Show, Christopher Bligh.
Robert: Hello, everyone.
Chico: Hard to argue that today is a dark day for many a game show fan here.
Jason: It is. You can say that a) he saved the game show industry and b) could
be the father of many game show fans.
Chico: After all, Merv Griffin, many a game show fan bow at the temple of Wheel
Gordon: First, The Chairman will give us the history of Merv.
Chico: Thanks, Gordon. Well, we all think of him as the creator of two of the
greatest game shows of all time. But it actually started on the radio with his
being a singer. That led to a film career and later to hosting "Play Your Hunch"
for Goodson-Todman and his own talk show for more than 20 years. During that
time, he invented both Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! While the
story of Wheel escapes me at the moment except for a deal to produce a game show
for NBC and to have Chuck Woolery host after an ep of his talk show. It was
another deal for NBC that gave birth to his second baby, Jeopardy!. He pitched
"What's the Question?" which was a quiz show in reverse, but when the exec was
told that the game didn't have "enough jeopardies"...
well, the rest is history.
Jason: Which, if you remember came out of the Game Show Scandals of the 1950's.
"Let's give the answers to the contestants"
Robert: And a renaming of the game. He changed it from What's the Question? to
Christopher: His game shows came from a deal that was made when Merv was being
groomed for the host position of the Tonight Show. When Johnny Carson got the
host seat, Merv was given a lucrative exclusive deal with NBC to develop game
Chico: And that's where those two shows came from, that deal to host the Tonight
Gordon: So Chico, what did Merv do after Wheel and Jeopardy?
Chico: Well, after Wheel and Jeopardy!, he went on to create an adaptation of
"Monopoly" that aired for 13 weeks in 1990 on ABC. Former J! contestant Mike
Reilly was chosen to host.
Philip: That was a pretty fun show
Robert: Fun show, but Reilly was in way over his head. And Peter Tomarken was
originally supposed to emcee the show.
Chico: Really... I didn't know that.
Travis: Monopoly was a good show, especially since I'm a big Monopoly player.
Philip: I used to watch that every night while visiting my relatives in Orlando,
FL...a month or two shy of my 9th birthday.
Christopher: This was around the time that ABC gave their first attempt in a
long time to put game shows in prime time.
Philip: I wonder why Peter wasn't picked. Did he turn the offer down?
Robert: he hosted the 1989 Pilot, which was supposed to be teamed up with Wheel
Chico: Didn't pan out, though, and it was paired with Super Jeopardy! for the
summer. Good summer, that was. No big desire for game shows until the
Robert: Save for Wheel, Jeopardy, Price and Family Feud.
Gordon: So what happened with Merv after the 90's?
Chico: Mid-to-late 90s, we saw a bit of a small scale boom.
Robert: Merv in 1997 created a good Kids game show in Click with a future
superstar in TV in Ryan Seacrest.
Chico: That lasted for a good two seasons.
Robert: With one of them in my neck of the woods in Seattle.
Chico: Fast forward 10 years and we see what would become Merv's final game
show, "Merv Griffin's Crosswords", scheduled to bow next month.
Gordon: You think that they would mark anything down as a memorial when the show
Alex: They might
Chico: They'd be pretty foolish not to.
Jason: And Wheel and J! too.
Christopher: It would be the right thing to do
Travis: Since it does carry Merv's moniker in the title, you'd almost have to
have a memorial at the beginning of Crosswords. Wheel and Jeopardy will most
likely do one each as well.
Alex: It's really weird. I've talked to Merv. He's an extremely nice guy. He's
always very supportive and he obviously knows what he's doing. It's a very sad
time that he's gone.
Chico: Other games with Merv's involvement include Ruckus, Headline Chasers, and
Let's Play Post Office. And if you want to get into reality games, he had one
big one, Dance Fever.
Jason: Ruckus was a great show...with the Amazing Johnathan :)
Gordon: I thought Ruckus was underrated myself. Dance Fever was also a guilty
Jason: Merv was one of the smartest guys in the business. He got a show on the
air...without a pilot. That's cool.
Travis: As Randy West would say, "One of the good people"
Chico: Yeah. Something you noticed... he had an active investment in every one
of his shows.
Jason: He never created a show and just left.
Gordon: This is a question to everyone - What is your favorite Merv Griffin
Jason: Jeopardy! It's a classic.
Alex: Jeopardy, without a doubt
Travis: My favorite would be the lesser-known and severely underrated Monopoly.
Chico: Monopoly was very underrated.
Philip: I'll say Wheel of Fortune
Travis: My favorite may change after Crosswords bows in a few weeks.
Robert: I'll agree with the contingent with Jeopardy! The show is nearing 50
years on air.
Gordon: I'm going to go with Wheel of Fortune. It's America's game. I'll put
Jeopardy right behind that and Ruckus right behind Jeopardy. Merv's got three
game show in our Top 50 of all time, including #1 - Jeopardy. Wheel of Fortune
and Ruckus also show up.
Jason: What's amazing is...none of his shows you could say were "bad". He was
Chico: Absolutely. Wheel was one of those shows he was convinced would succeed
given the right time.
Christopher: Not many game show producers and creative hands can have that kind
Philip: I agree.
Chico: Right time came in the 80s... Rest writes itself.
Robert: I have a question to everybody. Now with Merv gone, will Sony and Harry
Friedman make really outrageous changes to the games?
Philip: I think the games will remain unchanged.
Chico: Games have to remain unchanged.
Christopher: I think they would keep it the way Merv wanted it
Chico: I mean, what's there to gain from changing?
Jason: No way. Harry is one of the smartest guys in the business.
Gordon: I can't see Harry making changes like that. Harry has only done tweaks,
not major overhauls.
Jason: And I have heard there are tweaks for season 25.
Chico: I agree, if there's a changed, chances are it will not affect the overall
production. It would just be a minor tweak just to keep it fresh.
Jason: Same thing with J!
Gordon: Will Merv's death mean a boost in ratings for his shows?
Travis: Almost assuredly
Jason: Yes. For the short term.
Robert: Slight boost, but nothing major.
Chico: Not outside the realm of imagination. Minor, if anything.
Alex: I really don't think so.
Jason: But the shows itself will be still the consistency that they are.
Christopher: In this difficult market I hope that it gives it the necessary
boost, particularly in NYC where it faces a difficult time slot
Philip: I think it depends on the viewers.
Christopher: Crosswords in NYC will be on at 4PM for a full hour
Chico: They moved news around for Crosswords in NYC.
Jason: Which is big.
Chico: I think they have a lot vested to make such a move.
Gordon: Will it be a hit?
Jason: The show, I have to see it. But I hope so.
Chico: Same here.
Christopher: I think so, it'll grow and hopefully to grow out to a better time
slot, and I hope that it paves a way for other daytime game shows in the future
Robert: Here's to it being a good game.
Gordon: I think it's looking good at least in the NYC area. At 4pm, you don't
need much for longevity, and the fact that they kept it away from the game show
powerhouses is a plus.
Christopher: It's facing Oprah here in NY so it might be difficult but I think
Merv can show the staying power with his consistency
Gordon: I think there will be enough game show fans out there that will watch
the show at 4pm. Do I see it beating Oprah? Of course not, but I do see it
holding its own and a 3.0 rating is not out of the question.
Jason: I hope not. They moved Ellen out for him.
Travis: The legacy, I believe, would be knowing the right time to institute the
right format and have it be successful..
Chico: I say that because there's always a fix in the works and it always works
for the best.
Chico: In an industry that said "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," he was always
Philip: Yes sir
Travis: Jeopardy! in the 60's, Wheel in the 80's, and Crosswords in the new
Renaissance of the late 200x's
Robert: Others should learn from him.
Christopher: I hope GSN digs out a few episodes of Play Your Hunch is his memory
to pay tribute
Jason: Or early wheel?
Chico: Oh, it's almost a given at this point.
Christopher: And it wouldn't hurt to find any classic or early Jeopardy
Christopher: Great things don't change. They just refine to make them better
without many changes
Chico: That's true. That's Merv legacy.. Also, a wont to be active right up
until the end.
Gordon: Ok. We're running out of time here. We have enough time for everyone to
say a last thought about Merv.
Christopher: I will say this, he was the first talk show host I got to watch and
beyond it all Merv has given us a legacy in many fields, especially game shows,
that will go on to lead a great example for others to follow in the future. I
miss him already and I'm sure up above us, he's coming up with that great
creativity above the clouds.
Jason: Bless you Merv. You saved the industry that was in deep trouble. Thank
you. Thank you for all your contributions to our enjoyment.
Travis: Merv, thank you for putting your lasting impression of the "Winking
Griffin" on our favorite genre. You will be missed.
Philip: Merv, you've brightened up my childhood with two awesome game shows and
then some. Thank you for making television viewers like myself very happy.
Robert: Merv Griffin, You are a legend. You made shows that entertained
billions, and helped kids learn how to read, spell, and think for themselves
with Wheel and Jeopardy. You made watching game shows cool again with Wheel and
Jeopardy. You will be missed.
Chico: I'll just say, Thank you Merv. You made many a fan, myself included, what
they are today and many a game show what they are today, by holding them to a
different standard that they're used to. You leave behind a legacy of gumption,
inspiration, and perspiration that will be unmatched. The world will miss you.
Gordon: When I was growing up, my mom sat me on her lap and we watched the Art
Fleming era of Jeopardy together. I think this is one of the reasons why I have
the game show fetish that I have today. I would not have that without Merv, who
I would like to thank for it. You will be sorely and severely missed in a game
show era that professes money over substance. Thanks again to all of the
panelists this afternoon.
Jason: Thank you.
Travis: Thank you for having us.
Robert: Thanks Gordon.
Chico: Thanks. I believe a moment is in order real quick...
Gordon: Thank you. For all of us at GSNN, this is Gordon Pepper, telling
everyone to spread the love, because you never know how much time left you have
to spread it. Goodnight everybody.