Are You Game Show
Material? - July 7
I will probably never be
selected as a contestant for Deal or No Deal.
I know. Shocking.
Jason Block will never be selected. Chico Alexander
probably won't either. Chances are that none of my
friends will be selected. You won't be, either, unless
you are probably one of the following...
Hurricane Katrina Survivor (or any other natural
Have a Spouse/Relative in the Military
Let's see... I'm not a model or a Katrina Survivor. I'm
not in the military nor am I related to someone who is.
I'm not in the government, nor am I a lawyer or a poor
teacher. Gay Hairdresser.. ummm.... no. A$$hole? Some
people will say that it's debatable, but no. I'm just a
computer programmer who grew up in the entertainment
business who has a fascinating back story and who would
be a great contestant.
Alas, because I'm not one of the people in the list
above, I won't even be considered for a gig. And neither
will Chico, or Jason, or probably you (C-Note: I think
my dad will have issue with the "relative in the
Where did this list come from? This came from a
compilation of what's been advertised on Deal Or No Deal
(and it's concurrent clone game shows) for the types of
people that the shows are looking for. Yes, even the
a$$hole one. Are you any of those? If so, then by all
means go ahead and audition for the show.
Chances are, however, that you are only 1% of the
population - if that.
So we all know that the producers are looking for
various talent to be on their shows. But when did it get
to the point that only certain people (usually the
beautiful ones) were allowed to play? At best this
practice is tacky, while at worst, this is lazy,
bordering on discriminatory.
Why am I bringing this up? There was an article about a
marketing director from Evansville, stating that people
don't care as much about the NYC or L.A. contestants, as
the people in his area are 'more real'. Although I can
understand the loyalty of him to his program, if he is
getting bored with the people, it may not be because of
the location. It may be because that they are all almost
clones of each other.
I pine back to the days where the people weren't
controlled by demographics. The show that started it
all, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, had a very simple
system - call in, answer the questions, be the quickest,
and be randomly drawn to appear on the show. They didn't
care about what you did or what sort of person you are
or what you did for work. If you are quick enough and
smart enough, you get on the show. Jason Block got in
that way, and many people like him got their 15 minutes
of fame and their share of millions of dollars.
Now let's go to the current incarnation of Millionaire.
Jason Block probably doesn't get in. Chico Alexander,
who is Panamanian and as diverse as you can humanly get,
easily passed the test and got an interview. He didn't
get in - maybe because he isn't pretty enough. So
because he is not of the pretty person mold, he doesn't
get to sit in the hot seat, and we are instead graced
with a parade of beautiful bubbleheads who half the time
need a 50/50 to get past the first five questions and
who, this season, have not even seen a $500,000
This sort of practice has resulted in the death of
shows, which were filled with promise, but followed the
rule of style over gameplay. The Law Firm is the worst
culprit of this, as their diverse range of characters
made tremendous errors that no decent lawyer would make.
Starting with the third season of the Apprentice, The
Donald has given us characters that made us wonder how
in the world they became entrepreneurial. Survivor gave
us a tribe filled with models called Ulong. The result
was that they didn't win a single challenge, while the
'plain' team that saw the previous incarnations of the
show dominated the series.
Quite frankly, this sort of practice should not even
exist. If you are worth your salt as a contestant
coordinator, you should be more concerned about how
people play the game, not how they look. Any person's
life is interesting and compelling if you dig deep
enough into it. If you are good enough, you should get
on the show. Compel us with the way you play the game,
not the size of your assets.
At least there are some groups that are able to
transcend stereotypes. I have to give credit to the
coordinators of The Price Is Right, who consistently
give us the most exciting, energetic contestants around.
Even if they don't know how to play the games, at least
they give you a reason to watch and cheer for them.
Jeopardy featured a guy from Utah who admittedly is not
the most eye-grabbing personality, but his gameplay more
than compensated for his milquetoast appearance as he
dazzled us for 75 days.
From the reality side of the equation, American Idol
knows that the voice is the key, and regardless of the
types of people who sing, the vocal chords are what's
showcased. Project Runway continues to be one of the
best reality shows around because regardless of what you
think of the contestants, their amazing talent can not
be denied. I want to see people who can out talent me so
I can get into their world, and that's more important
than watching them make mistakes and making me wonder
what they are doing on my television set.
Howie Mandel always states that Deal or No Deal is
looking for the 'good' people, but I would be much more
satisfied if we had a few 'mediocre' people in there.
Give me an average person any time, because that would
mean that anyone could be selected as a contestant -
even me. And isn't the ability for anyone to be able to
be on television and compete the purpose of a game show
to begin with?
Gordon Pepper, a perfect mediocre person or an
imperfect pretty person, depending on who you ask, is
trading in the State of Play for the State of California
next week. E-mail him at