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February 11

Take away the Broadway success, the hit characters on the hit TV series, and the Hollywood hype, and Neil Patrick Harris could easily be you or me.

If you haven't heard, CBS and All3Media's Essential TV has commissioned the actor, who shook off the stigma of Doogie Howser to inherit the stigma of Barney Stinson, to host AND help produce a pilot for the US version of "The Cube", which in essence is "Beat the Clock" in a really cool looking box. To this end, he's flown all the way to the set in England to shoot it, which isn't an old practice. The eyes of a network and the eyes of an industry are going to be cast upon this chosen one and what is essentially the new fan favorite of the millennium to work together on this side of the Atlantic.

No pressure. 

Here we have an actor who knows his way around a game or two. He's been a celebrity player (and in some cases, champion) on many a game show, including "Wheel of Fortune", "Jeopardy!", and "Million Dollar Password". He's also been a big winner on "The Price Is Right"... Okay, so that was Barney, not NPH, but I wouldn't be surprised if that scene was the latter's idea. The point is that he has been, either actively or passively, asking for a show to front for a long time now. He's been BEGGING for it! I want to think he has a shrine to Bill Cullen in his home in the Hollywood Hills somewhere. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

It wouldn't be the first time that a frequent flyer had been chosen to take on a game show. Henry Polic II was a frequent guest on "Pyramid" before being called to front ABC's short-lived "Double Talk". Bill Cullen's frequent stint on the panel of "I've Got a Secret" made him a natural as host (but then again... this is Bill Cullen we're talking about. Come on, he can host anything. We can reanimate his corpse, put it on GSN, and make "Hidden Agenda" watchable). And then there's the little story of the "Match Game" panelist who got a job on a competing network and mailed it in to Uncle Gene for the next couple of years.

As they say in the TV business... "But wait! There's MORE!" Neil is actually going to help behind the scenes as an executive producer. Not many newbies in the field get such a high honor. The only one that comes to mind is Jeff Foxworthy, and even he had a credit of just "producer" when "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader" launched on Fox so many years ago. Neil, by comparison, is going to be one of the hands on deck. He is going to have a vested interest in the success of the show should CBS decide to pick it up. Not since Alex Trebek was named to such a role in the first season of "Jeopardy!" has a host taken on so much with a run that's done so little. 

I have a lot of friends who are chomping at the bit to get into the industry. Some of them already made it (and I've since made peace with the fact that I will not be a contestant on any of their shows due to that idiosyncrasy). Some are just getting their feet wet. Some have been in the game for ages. They all have one thing in common... hard work and due diligence in making a good project great. That's where the dreams of Neil Patrick Harris come in. After all, here we have a person who has given his life just for a shot in the industry (however long he's been at it). And now his dream is being granted tenfold. And if his ability is matched by his passion, as demonstrated by his love as a player, then we will be blessed with a quality product should CBS decide to take a gamble on it.

So here's to you, Neil, one of the largest-profile fans that the genre could ask for. We hope to see more of you and "The Cube" in the future... and we hope even more that nothing gets lost in translation.

Game Show Alphabet Redux

It's taking everything in me not to include "Krav Sakinim" in the shuffle for the "K" entry. I've recently discovered it in a fit of boredom looking at a list of prominent game show franchises all over the world on Wikipedia (knowledge is often bred in boredom, I've found). "Krav Sakinim", or "Knife Fight," is the Israeli version of the show that we in America know as "Iron Chef", having aired in that country since 2007.

But I've just gotten into actually knowing about it... and since Jason E. and I already covered "Krypton Factor" before its recent wave of "Crystal Maze"-like cult favoritism... of which I am a member.

More information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Chef#Krav_Sakinim

25 Days That Rocked the Game Show World: Day 24

I've been doing this for a year and I haven't pointed this one out. How dumb am I?

Michael Larson. "Press Your Luck". One day that lasted for TWO.

June 8, 1984 - Michael Larsen Goes Completely Ape-(^_^) on the PYL Board

Any game show fan worth his salt knows the story. Unemployed ice-cream man secures a spot on one of television's fastest-moving quiz shows of the 1980s, having memorized the patterns of the legendary Big Board. The rest is game show history.

But it almost didn't happen.

The tape day was May 19, and Ed Long, having pressed his way to $11,516 in his game, was prepared to defend his championship. Two days (June 8 and 11) and $110,237 later, that total seemed an afterthought. CBS brass went to their war room, determined to find a way to deny Larson his winnings. They failed, and paid out the dole as promised.

If only Larson's real life echoed that moment of triumph. After several episodes of robbery, bad Ponzi schemes, and utter obsession with getting the money back that he lost, the ultimate Whammy came on February 16, 1999, as he succumbed to throat cancer. Larsen was 49.

The episodes aired ONCE during the original run. GSN reaired them as part of their "Big Bucks: The Press Your Luck Scandal" documentary. The shows have been in the rota until GSN stopped showing PYL.

In 2003, the two challenging players returned to the game (now a revival called "Whammy!") for one more go against Michael's brother James. James won that match... and did it against a computerized Big Board.

As for how the game show world was rocked, the Board was reshuffled... TWICE... and BS&P was heightened until the fall of daytime network games not named "The Price Is Right".

Chico Alexander gives a shout out to every man, woman, boy or girl with a dream. E-mail him at chico@gameshownewsnet.com.