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The Price Is Right (U.S. game show)

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The Price Is Right

The Price Is Right logo from Season 38 (2009).
FormatGame show
Created byBob Stewart
Directed byMarc Breslow (1972-1986)
Paul Alter (1986-2000)
Bart Eskander (2000-2009)
Rich DiPirro (2009-present)
Presented byBob Barker (1972–2007)
Drew Carey (2007-present)
Narrated byJohnny Olson (1972–1985)
Rod Roddy (1986–2003)
Rich Fields (2004-present)
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes7,203 (as of January 29, 2010)
Production
Location(s)CBS Television City
Hollywood, California (1972-Present)
Running time60 minutes (1975-present)
30 minutes (1972–1975, occasional episodes from 1976–1994)
Production company(s)Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions (1972–1984)
Mark Goodson Productions (1984–2007)
Price Productions (1972–1994)
Mark Goodson Productions, LLC (1994–2007)
FremantleMedia (2007-present)
DistributorAll American Television, Inc. (1991-1998)
Pearson Television (1998-2001)
FremantleMedia (2001-present)
Broadcast
Original channelCBS
Picture formatColor (NTSC: 1972—present) 1080i (HDTV - 16:9) (2008—present)
480i (SDTV (4:3, 1972–2008)
4:3 (cropped, 2008—present)
Audio formatMono (1972-1987)
CBS StereoSound (1988-1997)
Digital Stereo (1997-present)
Original runSeptember 4, 1972 – present
StatusReturning series
Chronology
Preceded byThe Price Is Right (1956–1965)
Related showsThe Price Is Right $1,000,000 Spectacular
External links
Official website

The Price Is Right is an American game show centered on the pricing of merchandise to win cash and prizes. The current version of the show premiered on September 4, 1972 on CBS and was hosted by Bob Barker until his retirement on June 15, 2007. Drew Carey succeeded Barker at the beginning of Season 36 on October 15, 2007.[1] TV Guide named The Price Is Right the "greatest game show of all time".[2] The show is well-known[3] for its signature line of "Come on down!" when the announcer directs newly selected contestants to "Contestants' Row," a cluster of four sunken podiums situated just in front of the stage.

The original version of The Price Is Right aired from 1956–1965 and was hosted by Bill Cullen.[4] While retaining some elements of the earlier generation show, the 1972 revival added many new distinctive gameplay elements,[5] and now has the distinction of being the longest continuously running game show in United States television history, with more than 7,000 episodes aired.[2]

Taping for the show's 38th season began June 22, 2009, and the season premiere aired on September 21, 2009.

Contents

Overview

The gameplay on the show includes four distinct competition elements through which nine preliminary contestants (or six, depending on the show's running time) eventually are narrowed to two finalists. The result is that there are always three "contestants not appearing on stage."

One Bid

Bidders in Contestants' Row awaiting the announcement of the actual retail price.
The four players in Contestants' Row compete in a One Bid qualifying game to determine which contestant will play the next pricing game. A prize is shown and, beginning with the last player to be called down (or the player furthest-left during the first One Bid), each contestant gives One Bid for the item. The order of bidding moves from left to right. Contestants must bid in whole dollars, as the production company will round off all retail prices to the nearest dollar, and they are not allowed to bid the same amount as any player bid previously for that item. The player whose bid comes nearest to the actual retail price of the prize without going over wins the prize and plays the next pricing game.

But if the bids of all four contestants go over, a series of five buzzers is sounded before the price is revealed. The host announces the lowest bid, the bids are erased, and the bidding process is repeated in the same manner, with the contestants instructed to bid lower than the lowest of the original bids. It is not uncommon for some players to enter bids of one dollar ($1) in order to avoid going over, especially during a re-bid.

Conversely, if any bid from any one of the contestants is an exact match to the price of the item, including during a re-bid, a bell rings before the price is revealed. From 1977 until 1998, a player whose bid was exactly right received a $100 bonus; in 1998, the bonus was increased to $500. On The Price Is Right Million-Dollar Spectaculars, the perfect bid bonus is $1,000.

Pricing games

Each winner of the six One Bid rounds is called onto stage to play a pricing game to play for a prize or prizes valued at least several thousand dollars. There are currently over 60 pricing games in rotation. Regardless of whether or not the pricing game is won, all One Bid winners advance to the Showcase Showdown, which occurs twice in each hour-long episode, after every three pricing games. Each 30-minute episode featured three One Bids and pricing games, with the two on-stage contestants with the greatest winnings advancing to the Showcase.

Showcase Showdown

"Showcase Showdown" redirects here. For the band, see Showcase Showdown (band).
The first five taped shows of Season 37 featured a purple Big Wheel with green framework.

Since the expansion to 60 minutes in 1975, each episode features two Showcase Showdowns, occurring after the third and sixth pricing games. Each features the three contestants who played the preceding pricing games.

The contestants play in the order of the value of their winnings thus far (including in the One Bid round), with the contestant who has won the most spinning last. In the rare event two or all three players are tied in winnings, a coin toss or random drawing determines which player goes first.

The wheel contains twenty sections showing values from five cents through $1.00, in increments of five cents.[6] The first contestant spins the wheel and may choose to stop with their score or spin again, adding the value of the second spin to their first. However, if a contestant's total score goes over $1.00, that contestant is eliminated from the game. The contestant whose score is nearest to $1.00 without going over advances to the Showcase at the end of each episode. If the first two contestants go over $1.00, the last contestant automatically advances to the showcase, however they are also given one spin to see if they can hit $1.00.

The wheel must make one complete downward revolution for the spin to qualify, and the contestant must spin again if the spin fails to do so. Disabled contestants or those otherwise unable to make a qualifying spin are generally assisted by either a family member/friend or the host.

Any contestant whose score equaled $1.00 (from either one spin or a combination of two spins) receives a $1,000 bonus. Beginning in December 1978[citation needed], contestants who spun $1.00 were also awarded a bonus spin at the end of the Showcase Showdown in addition to the $1,000. At this time, the 5¢ and 15¢ spaces (which are adjacent to the $1.00 space) were repainted green. For the bonus spin, the wheel is positioned on the 5¢ and the contestant takes their spin. From 1978 until 2008, if the wheel stopped on either green section, the contestant received a bonus of $5,000. If the wheel stopped on the $1.00 during the bonus spin, the contestant won an additional $10,000. Beginning September 2008, the bonuses were increased to $10,000 and $25,000, respectively. Unlike a regular spin, if the contestant fails to make a full revolution of the wheel in the bonus spin, they are not given another spin unless it is a spin-off, where it is spun for positioning only.

If, after all three contestants have competed, two or more contestants are tied with the leading score, each competes in a spin-off. The tied contestants are given one additional spin and the player who achieves the higher score advances to the showcase. Multiple spin-offs are played until the tie is broken. If two or more contestants tied with a score of $1.00, their bonus spin also determines their spin-off score.

The Showcase

The two qualifying contestants are shown a large prize package. The contestant with the larger total of cash and prizes, called the "top winner of the day," may either bid on that showcase or pass it to their opponent, the "runner-up." A second prize package is then shown, and whichever contestant has not yet bid must bid on that showcase. The contestant whose bid is closest to the combined "actual retail price" of all the items in their showcase without going over wins that showcase. If both contestants bid higher than the actual price of their own showcases, referred to as a "double overbid," then both contestants lose.

If the winning contestant bids within $250 of the price of their showcase, he or she wins both showcases. This rule was introduced in 1974 for a winner whose bid was "less than $100" under the price; the threshold was raised to "$250 or less" in 1998.

In 60-minute editions, the Showcase participants are the winners of the two Showcase Showdowns. In the original 30-minute format, the top two winners from the pricing games automatically advanced to the Showcase.

Prizes

As of November 2009, the show had given away approximately US$250,000,000 in cash and prizes.[7]

One Bid prizes generally range in value from $400 to $3,000 in the daytime show. The prizes offered in pricing games vary significantly, ranging from about $5,000 (in several games that are built for four-digit prizes) to the more rare prizes worth $50,000 or more (Plinko, Triple Play, or Golden Road). Pricing games with maximum prizes of less than $5,000 were either retired or readjusted by 2007. Showcases typically award a prize package worth between $15,000 and $40,000 in most daytime episodes, resulting in the typical top prize for a person who wins both a pricing game and a showcase to be around $30,000 to $50,000. Ceremonial episodes, such as a major season premiere or finale, or a milestone episode (such as the "5,000th" and "6,000th" episode), will have an increased budget similar to levels for the prime time series.

Many of the show's prizes and grocery items are provided through product placement.

From 1991–2008, almost all automobiles offered on the show were made by companies based in the United States, specifically the Big Three automobile manufacturers (although cars made by these companies' foreign subsidiaries were also offered). The move was made by Barker, in his capacity as executive producer, as a sign of patriotism during the first Iraq war in 1991.

Since Barker's retirement, cars made by foreign companies have been offered, most notably Hondas (a home-state issue; Honda's US operations are based in Marysville, Ohio, and both Carey and Fields are Cleveland-area natives). Through product placement, certain episodes feature Honda as the exclusive automobile manufacturer for vehicles offered on that episode. The major German, Japanese, and Korean manufacturers have all provided cars on the show since the ban was lifted.

Carey's libertarian views have influenced the show to lift other Barker-imposed prohibitions, such as offering products made of leather or leather seats in vehicles, and showing simulated meat props on barbecues and in ovens. The show has also offered couture clothing and accessories since Carey became host, featuring designers such as Coach Inc., Louis Vuitton and Limited Brands in an attempt to attract a younger demographic.

During the 1970s, Los Angeles-based sports teams offered prize packages that included season tickets to the teams' events, but these prizes had mostly disappeared by 1980 (since by then, most contestants were tourists from other parts of the country rather than Los Angeles residents as they were in the 1970s). In 2008, the show began to offer new "dream fan" sports packages as prizes, including luxury suites, field-level tickets, and special access passes at various sports events, and travel packages to major sporting events such as the Daytona 500, The All-England Lawn Tennis Championships at Wimbledon, both automobile races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, NCAA Men's Final Four, the Kentucky Derby, and games for Seattle Sounders FC, a soccer team of which Carey is part-owner.

In 2008, a year's supply of Papa John's Pizza – including versions with meat – were offered as a prize on a Showcase. As part of the product placement deal, Los Angeles-based employees came into the studio to deliver a slice of pizza to the audience, models, staff, announcer, contestants and host. This deal was inspired by the Season 36 wrap party, where host Carey ordered 45 pizzas from a Cleveland-area pizzeria for the event. Another product placement deal in 2009 featured a year's supply of Omaha Steaks as a Showcase prize.

Winnings records

The record for largest individual total in cash and prizes on a daytime episode is held by Vickyann Sadowski. On September 18, 2006, the premiere of Season 35, Sadowski won a Dodge Caravan playing Push Over, and $1,000 in cash in the second Showcase Showdown. She also won both showcases, which included a Dodge Viper in her showcase and a Saturn Sky Roadster in her opponent's, bringing her total winnings for the episode to $147,517. That total is also the largest single-day winnings total in the history of American network daytime game shows.

The record for winnings on the prime time show is held by Adam Rose. On the Million Dollar Spectacular that aired on February 22, 2008, Rose won $20,000 playing the Grand Game and won both showcases, which included a Ford Escape Hybrid in his opponent's showcase and a Cadillac XLR convertible in his own showcase, plus $1,000,000 as a bonus. His total was $1,153,908.

CBS imposed a $25,000 winnings limit on their game shows until November 1, 1984, when the limit was raised to $50,000. The limit was again raised to $75,000 by November 1, 1986. By the late 1990s, CBS had lifted its winnings limit and contestants kept all cash and prizes won without forfeiture or forced donation to charity.

Cast and crew

Hosts

Bob Barker (1972–2007)

Bob Barker began hosting The Price Is Right in 1972 and completed a 35-year tenure in 2007. Barker was hired as host while still hosting the long-running stunt comedy show Truth or Consequences. His retirement coincided with his 50th year as a television host. His final show aired on Friday, June 15, 2007 and was repeated in prime time, leading into the network's coverage of the Daytime Emmy Awards.[8] In addition to hosting, Barker became Executive Producer of the show and so served from 1988 till his retirement; as such, he was responsible for creating several of the show's pricing games and launching the prime time spin-off. Barker had significant creative control over the series, particularly after 2000. Barker retired in 2007.

Reruns of Barker's last season were aired throughout the summer until the Friday before Carey's debut, when the season finale was re-aired.

After he became a noted animal rights advocate in the early 1980s, Barker signed off each broadcast with the public-service message, "Help control the pet population--have your pets spayed or neutered." Carey continued the tradition upon becoming the new host.

Barker made a guest appearance on the show on April 16, 2009, to promote his autobiography, Priceless Memories. He appeared during the Showcase round, and brought copies of the book to the audience.

Drew Carey (2007-present)

On October 31, 2006, Barker announced that he would retire from the show at the end of the season. In March 2007, CBS and FremantleMedia began a search for the next host of the show. Drew Carey was chosen and made the announcement of his selection during a July 23, 2007 interview on Late Show with David Letterman.[9]

Carey's first show aired October 15, 2007. Carey has continued Barker's tagline of "have your pet spayed or neutered" at the close of each episode.

Substitute hosts

In the history of the show, there has been only one substitute host. Dennis James, then hosting the syndicated nighttime version of the show (see below), filled in for an ill Bob Barker on the four episodes taped on December 2, 1974; the shows aired from December 24-27.

Since then, if the host becomes ill and cannot host, that episode's taping is simply postponed.

Announcers

The Price Is Right has had three permanent announcers over the course of its run on CBS. Goodson-Todman veteran Johnny Olson was the show's first announcer till he died in 1985. Rod Roddy, a veteran disc jockey and announcer whose credits included Press Your Luck, Love Connection, and the sitcom Soap, replaced Olson and announced for 17 years until his own death in 2003. Rich Fields took the position in 2004. The announcers have traditionally enjoyed greater exposure than typical television announcers, frequently appearing on-camera throughout the show and in Showcase sketches.

Several announcers have substituted on the show, usually as a one-week audition to replace Olson or Roddy. Substitute announcers after Olson's death were Gene Wood, Bob Hilton, Rich Jeffries, and Roddy himself. Substitutes during Roddy's illnesses and after his death were Burton Richardson, Paul Boland, Randy West, Daniel Rosen, Jim Thornton, Roger Rose, Don Bishop, Art Sanders, and Fields himself.

Models

To help display its many prizes, the show has featured several models who were known, during Barker's time on the show, as "Barker's Beauties." Some of the long-tenured Barker's Beauties included Kathleen Bradley (1990–2000), Holly Hallstrom (1977–1995), Dian Parkinson (1975–1993), and Janice Pennington (1972–2000). Pennington and Bradley were both dismissed from the program in 2000, allegedly because they had given testimony on Hallstrom's behalf in the wrongful-termination litigation she pursued against Barker and the show.[10] Following the departures of Nikki Ziering, Heather Kozar, and Claudia Jordan in the 2000s, producers decided to use a rotating cast of models (up to ten) until the middle of Season 37, after which the show reverted to five regular models.

The current models are Rachel Reynolds, Lanisha Cole, Amber Lancaster, Gwendolyn Osbourne, and Manuela Arbeláez. Arbeláez is a substitute for Brandi Sherwood, who is on maternity leave.

Current host Drew Carey does not use a collective name for the models, but refers to them by name, hoping that the models will be able to use the show as a "springboard" to further their careers.[11] Beginning in December 2009, for the first time in the show's history, the models are now identified by name in the long version of the show's closing credits.

Production staff

The highly successful game show production team of Mark Goodson and Bill Todman was responsible for producing the original as well as the revival versions of the game show. Goodson–Todman staffer Bob Stewart is credited with creating the original version of The Price Is Right.

Roger Dobkowitz was the program's producer from 1984-2008, having worked with the program as a production staffer since the current version's debut after graduating from San Francisco State University in 1972. Occasionally, Dobkowitz appeared on camera when answering a question posed by the host, usually relating to the show's history or records. Dobkowitz left the show in 2008. Variety reported that it was unclear whether he was retiring or was fired.[12]

The current format uses four producers, all long-time staffers. Kathy Greco has been with the show since 1975, and veteran stage official Adam Sandler (not to be confused with the actor) are the current producers of the show. Stan Blits (who joined the show in 1980) and Sue MacIntyre are the co-producers.

Frank Wayne, a Goodson–Todman staffer since the 1950s, was the original executive producer of the show's current version; Barker assumed that role after Wayne's death in 1988. Previous producers have included Jay Wolpert, Barbara Hunter, and Phil Wayne Rossi (Frank Wayne's son). Rich DiPirro (also known Richard Brian DiPirro or R. Brian DiPirro), previously a director for Deal or No Deal, was named the show's new director in January 2009; Marc Breslow, Paul Alter, and Bart Eskander each served long stints previously as director. Andrew Felsher and Fred Witten have directed episodes strictly on a fill-in basis.

Aside from Barker, the show's production staff remained intact after Carey became host. FremantleMedia executive Syd Vinnedge was named the program's new executive producer, with Michael G. Richards becoming co-executive producer after Dobkowitz's departure. Richards was a candidate to replace Barker as host in 2007, before Carey was ultimately chosen.[13] Richards succeeded the retiring Vinnedge as executive producer when the 2009-2010 season started.

Production information

Audience and contestant selection

Many audience members arrive early on the day of a taping, often camping out late at night the previous night, to attend a taping.[14] Most have already received tickets for that day's show, although some hope to get same-day tickets. Audience members are then given the iconic name tags with a temporary identification number, which is also written on the person's ticket. Audience members are eventually brought through in groups of twelve for brief interviews with the production staff. A Social Security Number (or some national I.D. number for non-U.S. audience members) is required to be submitted. Contrary to popular belief, contestant names are not chosen at random; rather, the interviews determine possible selections for the nine contestants per taping from among the pool of approximately 325 audience members. In the early months of the show's run in 1972, children and teenagers were present in the audience; the minimum age was 12 in 1977, later raised to the current 18.

With few exceptions, anyone at least 18 years old who attends a taping of the show has the potential to become a contestant on The Price Is Right. Those ineligible include current candidates for political office, employees of CBS Corporation or its affiliates, RTL Group, or any firm involved in offering prizes for the show. Contestants who have appeared on a different game show within the previous year, or either two other game shows or any version of The Price Is Right itself within the past ten years are also ineligible.[15] The show’s staff alerts potential contestants – in person, on the show's Web site and on the tickets themselves – to dress in "street clothes" and to not wear costumes (except for the Halloween episode since Carey began hosting[16]), such as those used to attract attention on Let's Make a Deal, another show that featured contestants selected from the audience. Those who have attended tapings in June 2008 noted producers have disallowed audience members from wearing fake eyeglasses designed to look similar to those worn by host Drew Carey.[17] Instead, contestants will often wear shirts with hand-decorated slogans, often with Drew Carey references. Members of the armed forces will often wear their uniforms, a tradition on many game shows. (Both Barker, a Navy veteran, and Carey, a Marine Corps Reserve veteran, served in the armed forces).

In addition, the show discourages contestants from wearing green shirts because some game props use Chroma key effects, which can blend into a contestant's shirt. The show began using this effect for trips as a result of switching to 1080i in 2008, but later in the season abandoned the green screen for trips, replacing them with the use of video screens. Some prizes (mostly water-related prizes) still use green screens to create a simulated "wave" effect. The green screen is now used outside on the show where potential contestants are allowed to be photographed as if they were on the Plinko board, Cliff Hangers set, or Showcase Showdown wheel where contestants can post a message notifying them of their appearance on the show on a future date.

Occasionally episodes are taped with special audience restrictions. For Memorial Day in 1991, an episode was taped with an audience composed entirely of those who had served in the Armed Forces. Similar prime time episodes were taped in 2002 honoring each branch of the United States military and a sixth episode honoring police officers and firefighters.

Since Season 37 (2008), the annual Veteran's Day episode, set to air November 11 or the Friday closest to it, the audience is composed entirely of those who have served in the Armed Forces and their families. The 2008 version was slated to air in daytime on November 11, 2008 (Veteran's Day), but the airing was moved to November 14 as a CBS prime time episode. The format contains a unique rule where each One Bid would feature one contestant from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, and each contestant who won their way on stage would be replaced by a member of the same branch of service. The show features a live military band playing the winning contestant's service song. The traditional name tags also contained the contestant's (or their family member's) service branch. Most civilian attendees were retired or disabled veterans, or family members of military. Each contestant was also introduced by their rank, which usually does not happen with civilian episodes when military members are introduced, and One Bid winners won a $1,000 gift card. Audience members were grouped by branch of service.

The 2009 version featured three changes -- abolishing the "battle of the services" format in favour of a more traditional contestant selection process, while adding the United States Coast Guard (part of the Department of Homeland Security) into the show, and with the switch from eggcrate displays to LCD screens in Contestants' Row, the color pattern was changed to alternating red and blue displays (instead of a yellow and green display), each featuring the logo of the contestant's service before making a bid.[18][19]

During Season 37 in 2009, the show began taping episodes with couples competing as teams. The episode that aired February 13 featured married or engaged couples for Valentine's Day. On May 8, mother and child teams competed, and an episode featuring engaged couples aired on June 19.

The second taped episode (show #0101-2/0013D) had to be replaced (by show #0013D(R)) as a contestant was related to a CBS employee and therefore ineligible to be on the show. The other contestants who appeared on that episode were awarded their prizes, but the episode was never aired (and currently cannot be shown due to containing a fur coat).[20] There have been similar instances over the years of ineligible contestants appearing on stage, but were not edited out of the final broadcast since it was discovered in post-production. Usually, these episodes air with a disclaimer from the announcer added in post-production that the contestant was found ineligible. Standards and Practices guidelines for game shows state that if an ineligible contestant wins a One-Bid, and the other contestants on Contestant's Row at the time do not win a subsequent One-Bid, they are not considered to have made an appearance on the show and are immediately eligible again once the error has been discovered.

Taping

The program is usually produced in about an hour.[21] Two episodes are usually taped each day and there are normally three taping days per week. The program is taped in advance of its air date. For example, the show broadcast on February 28, 2008 was taped the preceding January 16.[22] As with many other shows that start production in the summer, the lead time varies during the season, from nine days to 15 weeks. The audience is entertained by the announcer before taping begins. After the taping session, there is a drawing for a door prize.

Some episodes are taped "out of order" so that a specific episode will air after other episodes have aired. Notably, the Christmas Week episodes are usually taped in early December outside of the regular rotation. An episode may be taped out of order if a prize package reflects a trip to a special event that is taking place close to the date that episode will air (such as the Indianapolis 500, Academy of Country Music Awards or Final Four basketball tournament).

Other episodes may be aired out of out of order because of game-related incidents or situations beyond the network's control. Such was the case when two episodes taped in June 2005, featuring trips to New Orleans, were set to air in the fall of 2005, shortly after Hurricane Katrina struck. The episodes eventually aired in May and June 2006.

Production company

The current version of the series was originally "A Mark GoodsonBill Todman Production" in association with CBS.[23] After Todman died in 1979, the unit became known as simply Mark Goodson Productions and was announced as such on The Price Is Right from 1984–2007. Today, the series is produced by FremantleMedia and copyrighted by The Price Is Right Productions, Inc., a joint venture of RTL Group and CBS.

For the sake of tradition and through special permission from RTL's subsidiary FremantleMedia, the show continued to use the Mark Goodson Productions name, logo and announcement at the end of each episode until Barker's retirement, even after FremantleMedia purchased and absorbed the Goodson-Todman holdings. The show is now credited as a FremantleMedia production (with CBS as a silent partner, although their logo appears only towards the end of the technical credits just before the copyright notice).

Set features

Backstage photo: Bob Barker standing onstage with Contestants' Row in front of him and the Turntable platform behind him.

Except for the 2001 Las Vegas special, The Price Is Right has been taped at Studio 33 in CBS Television City for its entire run. The studio, which is also used for other television productions, was renamed the Bob Barker Studio in the host's honor on the ceremonial 5,000th episode in 1998.[2] Since Carey became host, there has been talk of the show traveling in the future.[24]

Contestants' Row is placed at the front of the audience, with the liquid crystal displays located on the edge of the stage deck. On stage are three sets of large, paneled, sliding doors as well as a platform with a rotating wall (the Turntable). Pricing games and prizes are typically placed in these areas. There are also a "Giant Price Tag" prop, a large fly curtain and other covers used to conceal prizes, games and other staging elements.[25]

The announcer and production crew are positioned on separate podia stage left. In 2008, a new announcer's podium was constructed that blended into the set, as it is visible on HDTV broadcasts when the camera (especially the jib) runs around it. This change is consistent as part of the show's improvements for HDTV. Prior to Season 38 in 2009, the production crew had been stage right, but that was changed because of Season 38 turntable area changes.

The set had remained almost unchanged throughout Barker's tenure, although the turntable walls have consistently changed. Until those changes, older episodes could be rerun without seeming dated. In 2002, the turntable walls were changed featuring a Hollywood mural and the Big Doors received a new design. The turntable mural was removed midway through the season, but various murals were continuously used for prime time episodes until 2004. For 2006, the Big Doors were repainted with a new design.

An overhaul of the set was made in 2007, when Carey took over as host. The predominant earth tone colors were brightened to project a modern look, although the set props largely remained as they were when Barker was hosting.[26]

Further changes to the set were added late in Season 36, as June 2008 tapings were the first taped after the transition to full HDTV broadcasts. The production crew is now concealed behind doors that may be closed to prevent this area of the stage from being seen in the 16:9 broadcasts.

The set used for prime time specials during Season 36 (sans the black floor) was adopted for daytime episodes taped in Season 37. A new plasma screen was installed in January 2009 in the back of the studio to show graphics for trip destinations since trip skins were eliminated early in Season 37 and replaced by chroma key, which were then replaced by smaller portable HDTV screens. When not involved in prizes, it displays the show logo with a background similar to the turntable wall. For special theme episodes (such as the military special, Valentine's Day, or St. Patrick's Day), a special background, and sometimes a special show logo, will be displayed instead.

According to contestants and those in attendance, there are additional LCD monitors, not displayed on-air, that are used on the set. One is located next to the announcer, and one near the Turntable that replaced the traditional slate cards, and used during the Showcase for contestants to see prize descriptions (especially for trips).[27]

Season 38 changes, again made because of HDTV, feature a revised turntable that is behind Big Door-style frames featuring lights which change colors, and new One Bid and Showcase podia that use LCD displays.[28]

Broadcast history

The most recognized incarnation of the show premiered September 4, 1972 on CBS with Bob Barker as host. The show was first called The New Price Is Right to distinguish itself from the earlier Bill Cullen version (1956–1965), but it proved so popular in its own right that, late in the show's first season, the producers decided to drop the word "New".

During the week of September 8, 1975, CBS experimented with a one-hour version of the show in order to celebrate its third anniversary.

The show has since remained virtually unchanged. New pricing games are generally added each year, while games that have become unpopular or confusing are removed. In addition, prizes and pricing games have kept pace with inflation, resulting in some of the original pricing games that were designed for four-digit prices (often cars) to be adjusted to allow for five-digit prices. Apart from minor aesthetics, the current show otherwise maintains a nearly identical appearance to a show produced in the 1970s.

In Season 36, CBS began broadcasting each episode on the Innertube video on demand service available at CBS.com.

Also in Season 36, the show also began a transition to high definition, first with the prime time series, then taping (but not broadcasting) the last 12 episodes of the season in high definition. The show began broadcasting exclusively in high definition with the start of the 37th season.

1972 pitch film

In February 1972, Mark Goodson and Dennis James taped a pitch film for The New Price Is Right, which was intended at this point to run only in syndication. The pitch featured a description of the show's mechanics as well as two segments where Goodson played two possible pricing games.[29]

At this point in time, the format and gameplay elements of what eventually became The New Price Is Right were still being discussed within the production company and did not include many elements of what eventually became core principles of the show. One concept discussed in the film evolved into Ten Chances, while the other evolved into Take Two.

Because James had not hosted a game show in which pricing items was a core element, in addition to the segments mentioned above, a clip of James substitute hosting an episode of Let's Make a Deal from late 1971 or early 1972 was also included. The clip featured a married couple playing a game in which they needed to correctly pick grocery items from least to most expensive.

Syndicated productions

Nighttime versions of
The Price Is Right
FormatGame Show
Created byBob Stewart
Presented byDennis James (1972–1977)
Bob Barker (1977–1980)
Tom Kennedy (1985–1986)
Narrated byJohnny Olson (1972–1980, 1985)
Gene Wood (1985-1986)
Rod Roddy (1986)
Country of origin United States
No. of episodes300 (1972–1980)
170 (1985–1986)
Production
Running time30 minutes (with commercials)
Production company(s)Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions (1972-1980)
Mark Goodson Productions (1985-1986)
Price Productions (1972-1980; 1985-1986)
DistributorViacom Enterprises (1972-1980)
The Television Program Source (1985-1986)
Broadcast
Original channelSyndicated
Original runSeptember 10, 1972 – September 13, 1980 (weekly)
September 9, 1985 – September 5, 1986 (daily)
Chronology
Related showsThe New Price Is Right (1994-1995)

Three syndicated versions of The Price Is Right have aired. The first two followed the same format as the half-hour daytime version, but aired on most stations in the early evening, and were referred to on-air as "the nighttime Price Is Right".

1972–1980

A weekly syndicated version debuted the week after the daytime show, and continued to air until September 1980.[30] It was distributed by Viacom Enterprises, which started as the syndication arm of CBS. It was hosted by Dennis James, a figure from the early days of television, until 1977. Goodson originally intended for James to host both versions of the program, but CBS executives preferred Barker for the daytime show. (Barker was still hosting the syndicated version of Truth or Consequences when the revived Price Is Right began airing, and was unavailable to host the nighttime version.)

The two versions were largely similar at the beginning – both were called The New Price is Right. An African-American model named Harriet appeared on several early episodes of the nighttime show, and is not believed to have appeared on the daytime series. The nighttime show had a larger budget, and its Showcases were sometimes worth double or triple the value of the daytime show's. Some games had rule differences because of the larger budget and less commercial time; for example, Double Prices was played for two prizes instead of one.

This version retained the 1972 half-hour format for its entire run and did not add the daytime show's Showcase Showdown or Double Showcase rule. After the first season, all mentions of the show's name became either The Nighttime Price is Right or simply The Price is Right.

In most of the U.S., stations carried the syndicated Price as one of several different programs aired each night of the week in one of the time slots in the hour before prime time which were created by the 1971 FCC Prime Time Access Rule.[23]After the fifth nighttime season in 1977, James' contract was not renewed. Barker, whose Truth or Consequences was taped two years ahead and had stopped production in 1975, took over this version as well.

The series taped its 300th and final episode on March 12, 1980, and was canceled after weekly syndicated game shows had fallen out of popularity in favor of daily offerings. With a run of eight seasons, it was one of the longest-running weekly syndicated game shows of the era and the longest-running regularly-scheduled prime-time version of Price (the 1957–1964 run was seven seasons).

1985–1986

Five years later, veteran host Tom Kennedy starred in a new daily syndicated version[31][32] which also used the traditional half-hour format, and was syndicated by The Television Program Source. Like the previous syndicated series, this version had a slightly larger budget than its daytime counterpart. It modified several games to accommodate five-digit prices (Big Money Game, 3 Strikes +, Deluxe Dice Game, etc.). Usually, in these games, the last digit in the price was given free; when these modifications were transitioned to the daytime show, it was usually the first digit given free.

This version used the same models as the daytime show. When Johnny Olson died in late 1985, Gene Wood filled in as announcer until producers chose Rod Roddy as Olson's replacement. The nighttime version did not feature rotating auditions for announcers as the daytime show did.

The series failed to earn prime access slots as its predecessor did, due to increased competition from programs such as Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!, and often found itself in late night slots.

This version produced 170 episodes, airing in first-run from September 9, 1985 to May 30, 1986 (reruns aired until September 5). To date, the Kennedy version is the only one of the three syndicated versions to be rerun by GSN (albeit in the late-night slots it frequently had during its original run).

The New Price Is Right

Seven years after the cancellation of Tom Kennedy's Price Is Right, the producers of the series decided to try again with a completely revamped version of the show. The show, titled The New Price Is Right, taped two pilots on July 16 and 17, 1993. The first was hosted by The Young and the Restless star Doug Davidson (who would eventually host the series), while the second was emceed by Los Angeles news personality Mark Kriski.

This series premiered on September 12, 1994. It was distributed by Paramount Domestic Television (now, like The Television Program Source and Viacom Enterprises before it, part of CBS Television Distribution). This series featured several significant changes – eliminating Contestants' Row, a different format for the Showcase Showdown, a one-player Showcase, a completely different set, and a much larger budget (even when compared to the previous two syndicated runs) that gave contestants the potential to win up to five times what they could win on the daytime show.[33]

This version failed to gain viewership, largely because many stations regularly pre-empted it for coverage of the OJ Simpson murder trial, and it ended its run on January 27, 1995 after only 16 weeks. Several stylistic elements of this series would later be integrated into the daytime and CBS prime time series.

CBS prime time specials and series

CBS attempted to break NBC's dominance of Thursday night prime time by The Cosby Show and Family Ties with a six-episode summer series, The Price Is Right Special, beginning in August 1986.[34]

On August 23, 1996, CBS aired an hour-long 25th Anniversary Special, using the half-hour gameplay format and featuring a number of retrospective clips. The 30th Anniversary Special was recorded at Harrah's Rio in Las Vegas and aired on January 31, 2002.[35] This one-time road trip enticed 5,000 potential contestants to line up for 900 available tickets, causing an incident that left one person injured.[36]

A second prime time series was a six-show series saluting various branches of the United States armed forces, police officers and firefighters aired during the summer of 2002, as a tribute to the heroes of the terrorist attacks of 2001.[37] During the The Price Is Right Salutes series, spinning $1.00 in a bonus spin during the Showcase Showdown was worth $100,000 instead of the usual $10,000.

The success of the prime time series, which aired mostly in the summer, along with the rise of big-money "million dollar" game shows, led to CBS launching the current prime time series in 2003, The Price Is Right $1,000,000 Spectacular, which has aired 26 episodes.

In the first sixteen $1,000,000 Spectaculars, the bonus spin payoff for the Showcase Showdown was again increased, this time to $1 million. Beginning on the fourth $1,000,000 Spectacular, the winner of the Showcase (or a random audience member in case of a double overbid, which happened once) earned a million-dollar spin if there was no bonus spin during either Showcase Showdown. During these post-Showcase spins, landing on a green section did not earn any money.

The million-dollar spin was eliminated for Season 36 and was replaced with two other methods of winning the prize. One pricing game per episode was selected as a "million-dollar game" with an additional requirement that the contestant must meet in order to win the money. In the Showcase round, the double showcase win rule was adjusted to include the million dollar prize if the winning contestant came within $1,000 (later $500) of the actual retail price of their showcase.

On the prime time series, larger and more expensive prizes are generally offered than on the daytime show. Contestants' Row frequently offers prizes usually seen in pricing games, and many pricing games, including those played for money, offer larger prizes than on the daytime show. The Showcase frequently offers multiple or very expensive cars.

The 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike led CBS to commission another six-episode (and later expanded to ten episodes based on the success in the Nielsen ratings) prime time series. This prime time series introduced massive set changes as the show was broadcast in high definition television for the first time. The set used for these episodes (except for the floor) was moved to the daytime show in 2008.[38] A contestant on the first episode won $1,000,000 with a winning Showcase bid that was less than $1,000 below his actual showcase price. Another contestant won $1,000,000 at the end of the third show. A third contestant won $1,000,000 in the million-dollar pricing game on the fifth episode (Clock Game) which aired April 4, 2008. That led to the prize indemnity insurance provider to request the million-dollar showcase range be changed from $1,000 to $500 for the second series of tapings.

Gameshow Marathon

In 2006, The Price Is Right was featured on the series Gameshow Marathon, hosted by talk show host and actress Ricki Lake.[39] This version combined aspects of the Barker and Davidson versions with the celebrity contestants playing only three pricing games, followed by a Showcase Showdown where the two contestants with the highest scores would go on to the Showcase. The winner of the Showcase would be entitled to a spot in Finalists' Row.

This version was announced by Rich Fields and taped in Studio 46. It also marked the first Price Is Right episode directed by Rich DiPirro, who replaced Bart Eskander as the director on the daytime show in January 2009.

Critical reaction and controversy

The program has been generally praised and remains a stalwart in television ratings over its long history.[40] The introduction of the program ushered in a new era of game show—moving away from the knowledge-based quiz show format, creating "a noisy, carnival atmosphere that challenged cultural norms and assumptions represented in previous generations of quiz shows".[41] Until Barker's retirement in 2007 (and for several months after Carey took over hosting duties as well), JumpTheShark.com had listed the series as one that had "never jumped" the shark, one of a limited number of programs that earned the distinction. Responses since Carey's arrival have been more divided.[42]

Beginning in the mid-1990s, the program production company—and in some cases, Barker, as executive producer—was sued by seven women. A majority of the lawsuits involved Barker's Beauties and other staff members in cases of sexual harassment, wrongful termination and racial discrimination.[40] Allegations of sexual harassment brought by model Dian Parkinson led to Barker calling a press conference to admit a past consensual sexual relationship with her, while denying any harassment and alleging instead that she was only angry with him for calling off the relationship. Barker was widowed in 1981 following the death of his wife, Dorothy Jo.[43] It has also been alleged that Barker and senior staff created a hostile work environment, particularly to those who would testify for the plaintiffs suing Barker.[10] Responding to the controversy just before his retirement, Barker told an interviewer, "They've been such a problem. I don't want to say anything about them. They're disgusting; I don't want to mention them."[44]

All the lawsuits, except for one, were settled out of court. Barker himself dropped his slander suit against Holly Hallstrom. Hallstrom countersued and ultimately received millions in settlement.[45][46]

Price in other media

The Price Is Right has expanded beyond television to home and casino-based games.

Board games

Nine board games have been produced. One of them was a variation of a card game, using prizes and price tags from the original version.[47] The second was based more closely on the original version of the show.[48]

Three games were produced during the 1970s, by Milton Bradley, with Contestants' Row, a small number of pricing games and, in the case of the third version, a spinner for the Big Wheel, albeit with the numbers in the wrong order. In the first two versions, decks of cards had various grocery items, small prizes and larger prizes. The third version simply had cards for each game that included ten sets of "right" answers, all using the same price choices. The instruction book would tell the "host" for the round what color cards would be necessary.

The 1986 version, again by Milton Bradley, was similar in scope to the earlier version, with new prizes and more games, but lacking the Big Wheel. The instruction book refers to Contestants' Row as the "Qualifying Round" and the pricing games as "Solo Games". The book also instructs players to use items priced under $100 as One Bids.[48] The 1998 version of the game, by Endless Games, was virtually identical to the 1986 release, with the same games, prizes and even the same prices. The only changes were that the number tiles were made of cardboard bits instead of plastic and the cars from the deck of prizes with four-digit prices were removed.

The 2004 edition, again by Endless Games, was a complete departure from previous home versions.[48] Instead of different prize cards and games, the game consisted of everything you would need to play over 40 pricing games and enough materials to create all the games not technically included if the "host" wished to and knew their rules. The Big Wheel spinner was also restored, this time with the numbers in the correct order. Additionally, the prices, instead of being random numbers that could change each time the game was played, were actual prices taken from episodes of the TV show. To fit everything in the box, grocery items and prizes were listed in the instruction book and games were played on dry erase boards. A spinner would determine what game would be played next, although its use was not necessarily required if the "host" wished to build his own game lineup.

Computer and electronic games

In 1990, GameTek created a The Price Is Right computer game for the DOS and Commodore 64 platforms[49] and other systems to fit in their line of other game show games.

A hand-held Tiger game was made in 1998 with four pricing games. A DVD game with 12 pricing games, live casino show host Todd Newton, and video of prizes taken directly from the show was produced by Endless Games in 2005.[50] A 2008 DVD edition, also from Endless Games, featured many changes based on Season 36 and included eight new games: Half Off, More or Less, Swap Meet, Secret X, That's Too Much, Coming or Going, and Hole in One. It also featured both host Drew Carey and announcer Rich Fields.[51]

CBS.com featured an online Price Is Right-based game in the late 1990s, which was plugged in the closing credits of each episode. The game consisted of choosing which of the four bidders in Contestant's Row was closest to the price of a prize without going over.

An online edition of the game was available from Gamesville during the early 2000s but has since been discontinued.[citation needed]

Mobliss provides a suite of pricing games for cellular phones.[52] Previously, it offered Cliff Hangers[53] and Plinko.[54]

On March 26, 2008, Ludia Inc (in connection with Ubisoft) launched The Price Is Right video game for PC. A version for the Wii and Nintendo DS platforms was released in September 2008, while a version for the iPhone OS was released in November 2008. The show's announcer, Rich Fields, was the host of the computer version. The virtual set in the game resembles the set used in Seasons 31 through 34 rather than the current set. During the taping of this promotion, the Plinko board was rigged so that all chips dropped landed in the highest value slot on the board; after production wrapped, the wires used to rig the board were mistakenly left in place, leading to an incident during a taping of the daytime show which had to be edited and re-shot.

Ludia announced that all three platforms will receive a new version of the video game that was previewed at the Target Bullseye Lounge during the Electronic Entertainment Expo trade show on June 2-4, 2009. The Price Is Right 2010 Edition was released on September 22, 2009.[55]

Irwin Toys released an electronic tabletop version in 2008 featuring Contestant's Row, the Big Wheel, a physical Plinko board with chips, Showcases, and seven pricing games.

Jakks Pacific released a Plug It in and Play version of The Price Is Right in 2009,[56] featuring Drew Carey and announcer Rich Fields. The unit features 20 pricing games as well as the Contestant's Row, Big Wheel, and Showcase rounds.

Slot machines

A series of popular video slot machines, all based on the current version of The Price Is Right, were manufactured for North American casinos by International Game Technology.

The most common machines recreate the Showcase Showdown[57] as a bonus feature, with a wheel built into the game above the main video screen. At least four different versions of this machine exist as of 2006, each featuring additional bonus rounds based on popular pricing games: Plinko,[58] Cliff Hangers,[59] Punch a Bunch,[60] and Dice Game.[61] The Cliff Hangers game also exists as a mechanical reel slot machine, with a video screen positioned above the reels for the bonus.

In addition, a Money Game slot machine exists, albeit in limited release. This game has a potential top prize of a new car and has a different bonus round than the other The Price Is Right slot machines in service.

Another slot machine called The Price Is Right Fishing Game has been created by IGT.[62] The game features a fishing-themed bonus and is not based on any pricing game featured on the program. IGT has also released a game called The Price Is Right Fort Knox Progressives, but there are no elements of the television program evident in its gameplay.[63]

Scratch-off tickets

A scratchcard version of the game is being offered by several U.S. and Canadian lotteries, featuring adaptations of Plinko, the Showcase Showdown, and the Showcase. The top prize varies with each version.[64]

Live casino game

After the 2002 one-off Las Vegas episode, Harrah's and RTL Group have agreed to do live licensed shows (dubbed The Price Is Right Live!) at their venues, with several performers, including Roger Lodge (Blind Date, Camouflage) and Todd Newton (Whammy! The All-New Press Your Luck, Hollywood Showdown) hosting and Randy West, Daniel Rosen, or Dave Walls announcing.

DVD episodes

A four-disc box set DVD, titled The Best of "The Price Is Right", was released on March 25, 2008.[65] The set features four episodes of the 1956–1965 Bill Cullen series, 17 episodes of the Barker daytime series from 1972–1975, and the final five daytime episodes hosted by Barker.

In accordance with Barker's animal-rights wishes (still in effect as of today), any episodes with fur coats as prizes currently cannot be aired or released into home-video formats. (This includes the first three daytime shows ever recorded in 1972, plus most of the 1970s nighttime run.) Despite this measure, GSN – during the time it had the rights to the series – accidentally aired three episodes with furs.

Awards

Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game/Audience Participation Show (1988, 1996, 1997, 2004, 2007)

References

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  4. ^ The Price Is Right 1956 at the Internet Movie Database
  5. ^ The Price Is Right 1972 at the Internet Movie Database
  6. ^ The sequence of the money values on the wheel is 5¢, $1.00, 15¢, 80¢, 35¢, 60¢, 20¢, 40¢, 75¢, 55¢, 95¢, 50¢, 85¢, 30¢, 65¢, 10¢, 45¢, 70¢, 25¢, 90¢.
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  19. ^ The Price Is Right Military invades CBS Studios
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  27. ^ Big Doors and Showcase contestants
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  42. ^ The Price Is Right in Jump the Shark. Accessed 13 April 2008.
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  51. ^ "Price is Right 2nd DVD Edition". Endless Games. http://www.endlessgames.com/ns-TPIRDVD2.html. Retrieved 2008-01-21. 
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  54. ^ "Plinko—The Price Is Right". GameSpot. http://www.gamespot.com/search.html?type=11&stype=all&qs=plinko&x=0&y=0. 
  55. ^ "Ubisoft announces three new game show titles.". http://wii.ign.com/articles/988/988121p1.html. Retrieved 2009-05-31. 
  56. ^ "Everyone Can Be A Gamer With Jakks Pacific's High-Tech Toys For a Low-Tech Budget". Kids Turn Central. http://www.kidsturncentral.com/topics/toys/tn010709.htm. Retrieved 2009-04-10. 
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  60. ^ "The Price Is Right Instant Bingo Featuring Punch A Bunch". International Game Technology. http://www.igt.com/GamingGroup/Games/game_detail.asp?pid=5.113.120&type_id=4854. Retrieved 2007-04-30. 
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  63. ^ "The Price Is Right Fort Knox Mystery Progressives". International Game Technology. http://www.igt.com/GamingGroup/Games/base.asp?pid=5.69&all=0. Retrieved 2007-04-30. 
  64. ^ Info page from the New York Lottery.
  65. ^ "Best of Price is Right". Navarre. http://www.navarre.com/prodhome.aspx?ItemNumber=8012233&Prod=video. Retrieved 2008-01-30. 

External links

 

All translations of The_Price_Is_Right_(U.S._game_show)


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