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Today is

... No Pressure - May 19

The whole world is riding on the hands of Ricki Lake.

At first glance, you would think that the premiere of a show airing right after May sweeps would not be much more than a shoulder shrug, but there is a lot more riding on the performance of the show than you can imagine. The show that may have a number of multi-million dollar dynasties riding on it is titled The Game Show Marathon and the hostess is Ricki Lake.

Now Lake is not a complete stranger to the game show biz. She has had a number of game shows played out on her self-titled talk show. She played in both Celebrity Poker Showdown and Celebrity Blackjack. She has also been a guest celebrity on both the Tom Bergeron flavored Hollywood Squares and the Donny Osmond flavored Pyramid. This same Ricki Lake will now be helming revivals of classic game shows including "The Price is Right," "Let's Make A Deal," "Beat The Clock," "Press Your Luck," "Card Sharks," "Match Game" and "Family Feud", while navigating them for singer and fellow card player Lance Bass, ex Trading Spaces host Paige Davis, Saturday Night Live Alumnus Tim Meadows, game player and TV Celebrity Kathy Najimy, TV and Movie Comedian Leslie Nielsen and Starlet and Playboy Playmate Brande Roderick.

Some people are looking at this as a fun little show which should get some decent ratings. Other people, who want to see the genre return in a grander scale, believe that this is a clear litmus test to see if the same audience who embraced Deal or No Deal will also embrace the roots of American Game Show Programming. The stakes are indeed high for a few shows in the mix – should this show do well, then you could clearly see some of these programs returning as revivals. The word out on the street is that Family Feud has been looking for a companion show, and either Press Your Luck or Match Game, pending on the ratings, would fit nicely.

However, let’s look at an even broader picture. Forget Prime Time for a second and let’s look at syndication. In 2007, assuming that none of the stalwarts will be leaving the air (Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, Family Feud, Millionaire), and with the addition of a Syndicated Deal or No Deal and an hour of new shows from King World, we will have at least 7 shows looking for a home on the schedule. There are only so many spots from 6 pm to 8 pm at night, which means that some of these shows aren’t going to fit there – but they have to go somewhere. Now let’s look at the daytime, which is now saturated with talk shows and judge shows, saturated to the point that the ratings of almost everything in the morning has dropped. Does anyone here see where this could be heading?

We here at Game Show News Net have lamented for years on what the world used to be like for us game show enthusiasts. A morning of wall to wall game show programming from 9am to 1pm was commonplace in our childhood. Should the ratings for Game Show Marathon approach Deal Or No Deal Status (or even just win the time slot), a very strong argument could be made for a syndicated morning game show renaissance featuring remakes of shows that we have grown to love and new shows brought to us by Kingworld and others. The best part of the equation is that the revivals only need a fraction of the ratings that they would garner in primetime to be a long-running success in am syndication, so if the ratings warrant that sort of success, then it could very well happen.

So a memo to Ricki Lake – not only is the future of nightly game show programming at stake, but so is a new generation of early morning game show programming. For the most part, said future is resting in your hands. Don’t screw it up.

There are only two more days of American Idol programming for the season. The question of who wins isn’t just going to be who sings better between Taylor Hicks and Katharine McPhee. It’s also going to be a race to grab up the fan base of third placed finisher Elliott Yamin.

In both American Idol 3 and 4, the finals sewed up the winner’s spot, as Fantasia Barino demolished a flustered Diana DeGarmo in the third edition, while Carrie Underwood outsang Bo Bice in the American Idol 4 finals. But let’s assume that like American Idol 2, Hicks and McPhee sing to a draw. Who gets the vote of Yamin?

The Chaos Theory has always stated that like votes go to like music. Yamin was a crooner who dipped into R and B as well as soul. That would favor Hicks. However, he also well versed in poppy ballads, and that vote would go to McPhee. For the first time in the Idol Era, I can see Yamin’s vote getting split to BOTH Hicks AND McPhee. If they both get the vote, then who do I think wins now?

For me, who I vote for is based on who the most consistent Idol has been all season. If you had Taylor and Katharine both sing their best on their best day, I think that Katharine delivers the better performance. However, Katharine has been up and down all season, and on more than one occasion has finished in the bottom. Taylor, on the other hand, has been the most consistent performer in the group, and reminds me of the consistency of Ruben Studdard. Sometimes, his vocal choices may be weird and he may be goofy, but Hicks has never given a bad, ear bleeding performance. Hicks has never been in the bottom, and it’s because of the Soul Patrol and his rabid fan base vs. the almost bordering on flaky fan base of McPhee.

For that reason, I believe that the winner of American Idol 5 is going to be the person who has been on or near the top of his game for every single week in the competition – Mr. Taylor Hicks. I will be voting for him. We’ll see on Wednesday if enough of you voted for him as well.

Gordon Pepper can win New York, Florida, and New Jersey, but Massachusetts and Wyoming may be a problem. E-mail him at


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