Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Spoiler Alert!

Here are the results from night eight:

Contestant 1 - Jennifer Kiesel
Miss $25,000 question, win $1,000

Contestant 2 - Nik Bonaddio
Quit on $250,000 question, win $100,000

Contestant 3 - Leslie Salyer
Answers $8,000 question, rollover

Celebrity - Wynonna Judd
Correct Answer. She also come out a little early to surprise Leslie Salyer, who is apparently a big fan, and everyone in the audience got a copy of her latest album, Sing: Chapter One

All right, enough beating around the bush. Why did I title this post Spoiler Alert? Today, whether intentionally or not, it was leaked that in the last three nights of this event, a contestant will reach the $1,000,000 question. We don't know who, when, or what the final result is.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing. In some ways, it makes the show more exciting. Yet why is it that whenever anything big happens on a game show these days - in other words, whenever somebody wins $1,000,000 - we know it's going to happen weeks if not months in advance?

The way I see it, there are three ways this can happen. There can be an actual leak, an intentional leak by the show's producers\network, or somewhere in between the two. When Ken Jennings lost to Nancy Zerg in his 75th show, we knew months in advance due to an actual leak from someone in the audience. The producers of course refused to confirm this, but in some ways, they were probably happy it came out. Ken's run was getting a decades-old show a lot of attention; when he did lose, the show got higher ratings than it had in years.

Second, we have what I'm calling "somewhere in between the two." Essentially, it's when a leak wasn't intended by the producers\network, but came from someone associated with the show. That's actually what happened this time - Regis announced that this was going to happen in an appearance on Larry King Live. When John Carpenter became the first $1,000,000 winner, I knew it was going to happen because Regis had told Kathie Lee so in the morning. It didn't matter to me much at the time as (A) I didn't quite believe him; (B) since a single person had never won $1,000,000 on a game show, the novelty was enough to keep me interested; and (C) nobody could have predicted what John did on the $1,000,000 question.

Now, I shouldn't complain about those first two. The producers can't stop everything. However, many producers seem to feel it is neccessary to heavily advertise $1,000,000 winners themselves. NBC's short-lived revival of Twenty-One produced two of the biggest winners in game show history in Rahim Oberholtzer ($1,120,000) and David Legler ($1,765,000). Good, right? Well, maybe, but I clearly remember announcers saying at the end of Rahim and David's first appearances something like "Watch our next episode as Rahim wins more than $1,000,000!" Why? Deal Or No Deal - also on NBC, I might add - has done similar announcements, but perhaps an even bigger culprit was Fox, which milked big winners on Greed and Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader? on all its shows, well in advance. Even Millionaire heavily promoted Kevin Olmstead's $2,180,000 win. Is that what it takes to get people to watch a game show now?

I suppose I shouldn't talk. When Wheel Of Fortune had its first $1,000,000 winner, the producers said months in advance that "something amazing" will happen on whatever day. I knew at once what it would be - but I watched, and I don't watch Wheel Of Fortune regularly. Make of that what you will.

More Millionaire Tomorrow,


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