‘The Price Is Right’ Game Show Celebrates 50th Season


NEW YORK – If you remember the price of a 30-ounce jar of mayonnaise, what an Armani purse is for, and how much to pay for an iPhone 12, there really is only one place to shine – ” The price is right “.

The longest-running game show in television history celebrates its 50th season this month and offers viewers a chance, as always, to ‘go down’ to win by guessing the correct retail price for various items.

Some rival game shows reward their competitors for their esoteric knowledge, others for their physique. With some shows, contestants need luck, a friend to call, strategy, or an ability to cook or sing. On “The Price Is Right”, the value of things is itself valued.

“This show is about the amount of a can of creamed corn. This is what is great. Because you’re just scratching or you’re Martha Stewart, you’ve probably bought a can of creamed corn, ”says George Gray, the show’s announcer since 2011.

“The Price Is Right” is a remarkably solid thing, surviving the retirement of beloved host Bob Barker in 2007, a renewal of models – sometimes with acrimony – the introduction of male models in 2012 and even the overtaking of COVID-19.

It has evolved subtly, with sturdy grandfather clocks as prizes replaced by electronic gadgets. HDTV monitors make exotic trips to shop windows these days, and the packages themselves have become more experiential, with snorkel gear or golf clubs added to packages to Belize or Scotland, respectively.

“We have really been able to keep up with the new pricing trend and what people want today. But it’s still the same game show – you still have to know the price of that laptop or that iPhone, ”says Rachel Reynolds, a model from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who joined the show in 2003.

If there is one word to describe the typical candidate, it is exuberant. When their name is called, there is usually a scream of excitement and a smiling rush-hop towards the stage, jumping up and down with barely contained glee.

Most of them are ordinary people, caregivers or home renovators or bookstore managers. “Good luck, man,” current host Drew Carey will say. Or, “Let’s see those awesome prizes out there, Heather.” The competitors are delighted to be there. One of them recently wore a partially dazzled t-shirt that read, “Drew let’s party like it’s $ 19.99.”

Potential candidates are briefly interviewed at the Los Angeles studio, with producers looking for personal stories and excitement. The show’s 300 viewers each have about 20 seconds to make a good impression.

The dozens of games – from Double Price to Five Price Tags and Plinko – test recipe-friendly prices for things like a 12-ounce can of corned beef, a pair of stainless steel patio heaters, and a six-night stay at Philadelphia with a Cheese Steak Tour. The show is so sweet that even contestants who arrive on stage but can’t play a prize game walk away with a consolation prize of $ 300.

Carey, who had hosted “Whose Line Is it Anyway?” and did some hosting on late night television, was warned that “The Price Is Right” was more complicated than he expected. It requires keeping track of time, interacting with contestants and the camera, guiding everyone through the games, and knowing what the contestants, models, and the crowd are doing at all times.

He compares it to his days of waiting at tables – knowing when the food was coming out, checking who needed a refill, when the check was needed. “It’s kind of the same skill set for ‘The Price is Right’,” he says. “There’s just a lot going on all the time. “

To celebrate its milestone, the show this week will feature a game every day where contestants can win up to $ 1 million. A two-hour prime-time special on September 30 will feature a look back at the biggest winners, never-before-seen releases and a tribute to Barker.

“The Price Is Right” debuted on NBC in 1956, with Bill Cullen as the host and consisted of four people bidding on auction-style items. The show was canceled in 1965, but the current version was relaunched in 1972 on CBS, with Barker as the host, influencing a nation with his signature tips for spaying or neutering pets. Carey kept this slogan in his honor.

Since 1972, producers say more than $ 300 million in cash and prizes has been handed out. Over 2 million spectators have watched a recording during these years and 68,000 of them have become candidates. Over 8,400 cars were donated.

The show lasted so long that a woman – Jeanne Deters of Lexington, Kentucky – won the $ 16,000 showcase in 1977 (a Porsche, a grandfather clock, and tickets to the 1977 World Series) and then watched her son, Patrick, walked away with the $ 31,000 storefront in 1998 (a sailboat, spa tub, ladies’ watch, and a collection of 43 “scary videos”).

Reynolds, who married and had a child during her tenure, calls the show her “second family.” Her daughter has made several appearances and her husband has appeared on “The Price Is Right” for wedding shows. But it started with a baptism of fire.

She had about six months of modeling awards when she was asked to drive a Ford Mustang on set. He was at a standstill when the machinists brought him into view and his job was to “wave, smile and hit the breaks.” She pressed the clutch instead.

By the time she realized her mistake, the muscle car was drifting into the background, finally nudging door 3. “I was like, ‘Oh, I’m getting fired’,” she recalls. But Barker was gracious and didn’t skip a beat – and neither did she.

She credits the show for making the Barker-Carey transition seamless as well. (something “Jeopardy!” didn’t work well this year). Barker had unperturbed royal elegance, but Carey has his Cleveland blue collar wit and cuteness.

Reynolds thanks the producers for not trying to fill Barker’s shoes with more of the same, which would have been reckless anyway. “I couldn’t have been luckier with two better hosts,” she said. “They are really two totally different people.”

The prospect of seeing ordinary people winning big prizes always seems to captivate the cast and crew. “You have machinists in the back watching the monitors, cheering on our competition,” she said. “We all really want competitors to win and be successful. “

She has a tip for all potential applicants: be sure to check prices for various items in Los Angeles, where producers get all of their retail information. “The prices are a bit more expensive in Los Angeles,” she says.

Gray says he’s always encouraged by the candidates cheering each other on, even if they just lost. “If you’re the Red Sox, you’re not cheering on the Yankees,” he said. “But when someone else plays for you, you encourage them.”

“I love that ‘The Price is Right’ is always a positive show,” he adds. “Everyone participates and wants everyone to win. I think that’s really always a positive point in people’s lives.”


Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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