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.
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
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.
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
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