I was a lifeline on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. We were prepped, the five of us that were the chosen lifelines, and in this prepping there was no mention about Googling. In other words, it was understood that using the 30-second window to Google the question would be acceptable. Many people wonder this, I think, so I thought I'd share.
I went to the taping of an episode of Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition. It was the episode in Green Bay. We did a ton of reaction shots to nothing. "Okay everyone turn around and be excited about how amazing he looks!" So we all turn around and cheer for nobody. Eventually the person who lost the weight came out, then went back and came out again. It was pretty funny. Also, they gave out McDonald's gift cards to the crowd, which was weird because it's a weight loss show.
I was on Jeopardy a few years ago. Everything seemed on the up and up to me.
In the green room beforehand, they even brought in a lawyer and said that he would be there the whole time, and we could speak to him any time if we had any concerns, even during a taping.
The other interesting thing was that one of the contestant coordinators said "we're not going to tell you how to play the game, but the stats show that everyone ends up with more money at the end if you start at the top of a category and go straight down," to discourage daily double hunting and random category-jumping like that one guy did last season.
Cash Cab - it is not completely random. They stopped me on the street and asked if I wanted to be on a show about the city. Me and some friends would go to a location and talked about current events. They set up a phone interview to test subject knowledge (really to gauge question knowledge). I was told to arrive at a location to film with a friend. When I got there they said a band was playing on a patio nearby affecting their sound levels. They hailed us a cab and said it would take us to the new location. Boom!!! - lights and cameras as soon as we got in.
I was in a taping of an MTV show and all of the party and bar scenes were actually filmed during the day. The bars would be too crowded to get cameras, lighting, and cabling around so they covered the windows in black plastic to keep it dark inside and filmed several days of partying and girls making out with "strangers" at 10:00 in the morning on the same day in multiple bars. The people inside were just people they invited to come in off the street and sign wavers. Even the music was fake and added in later. The directors literally sat out on the curb under tents and in front of monitors directing the whole thing.
Experience I had at the filming of America's Got Talent:
Some acts were pre-recorded and we watched them on the big screen and had to react (cheer/boo/etc.) accordingly to the guy telling us what to do and when.
Nick Cannon is a mega douche. He would be all interested and talkative to the acts and the audience when cameras were on, but the SECOND the cameras were off he would do a complete 180 in demeanor. His smile turned straight in to pissed off/disinterested. If he was shaking a contestant's hand when the cameras turned off, he would just abruptly stop and walk backstage. Every single time the cameras stopped rolling, he'd do this.
Howie was not as cool as I thought he'd be. He was always on his phone during "commercial breaks." Same with the girl from Spice Girls. Neither really acknowledged the audience.
Howard Stern is a class f*cking act though. Always engaged with the audience and making jokes. I've always liked him, but that make me like him more.
The audience is A LOT smaller than what it seems like on TV. There really is some TV magic going on all together. You do not get the same feeling watching the show live than on TV at all. I actually probably would have preferred to watch it on TV instead.
I went to a taping of an Indonesian game show called Hari Anda. They really had no rules. Everyone fills in a card when signing in, the host draws a card out of a bowl; if you're called up, you go up and play.
The game was simple...there are boxes with prizes inside for every day of the year. You either pick your birthday and they open the box for that day, or you spin a wheel.
It sounds lame....until you realize the whole show's purpose was to create an underground gambling scene in a Muslim country. There are people betting on which dates would come up, and whether or not someone would pick the wheel or the boxes.
I was 12 at that time, won a motorcycle, and my parents quickly sold it away before I got any crazy ideas.
I was on Deal or No Deal, as the player. Honestly, I have nothing but good things to say about the entire process! The game isn't rigged and they don't try and steer you towards or away any particular cases, the interactions with the host were all genuine, and it was super fun!
I didn't know before the day that I would be selected, but I had a hunch because I had a couple of phone interviews with the producers before the day of the taping (they tape five episodes in one day), so my surprised/happy reaction when I got picked was genuine.
They definitely seem to prefer people who have a good story or some sort of angle; mine was that I'd be using any money I won for an engagement ring.
Backstage, they gave a lot of tips and one serious warning.
The tips were use your Ask The Audience lifeline EARLY. It's best if you use it first, and you DON'T want to use it on the hard questions. The logic is you're on the show and they're not, so it's likely you know more than the people in the audience. The harder the question, the less likely they are to be helpful.
Another tip was talk out your answer and listen to the audience reaction. If you say you're leaning toward one answer, and everyone gasps really loudly, you should at least reconsider your answer. A lady who went after me didn't do this and wound up blowing it before she even got to the save point, so she went home with nothing.
They also said do NOT joke around with the "final answer" phrase. There's a guy in the control booth who is listening just for those words. If he thinks you said it, he hits a button, and you are locked in, even if you were just kidding.
Finally, they told us that the questions are generated by a company that has nothing else to do with the production company. That is, the questions are not generated in house. A company in another part of town comes up with them and delivers them on CDs. The guys in the production booth just grab one off the stack and put it in for each new contestant. They have no idea what's on them. They told us all this to make the point that if you feel like you've somehow been cheated, go ahead and sue. They take these precautions to ensure that if you do try to take them to court, you will lose.
We were not allowed to wear any clothes with a visible logo. Our outfits actually had to be screened by their legal department. I passed, but just before I went on, I was stopped by a stage manager who was concerned that the shirt I was wearing (the "Simple as 3.141592" shirt from Mental Floss) was really some kind of advertisement for a bakery.
Tried out for Legends of the Hidden Temple. They put me on the blue barracudas. They tell you not talk directly to Omac because the questions are preset and he will only answer with set responses. it was actually cool to see the dude who runs Omac come out and wave to the crowd. He was just some skinny white dude who does voices. They basically see if you can run, jump, and if you are too much of a little b**ch around temple guards. I ended up just playing one trivia game in front of a crowd at Universal Studios Florida and it never made it to air. My little brother cried nonstop because I got picked instead of him but he was only 7 and I was 11.
I was on Win Ben Stein's Money. The qualifying written test was tougher than the Jeopardy one, at least at that time. Half of us washed out after that and were sent home. Those remaining played practice games with bells in front of us. We were encouraged to ring in quickly and not worry about right answers. There were people with clipboards assessing us. If you weren't fun, quirky, or somehow sympathetic or interesting, you got sent home. After that, we had face-to-face-interviews with staffers. More marks on clipboards. After that, you went home. During the next few days, the show let us know if we were in the contestant pool.
We couldn't wear white and had to bring our own makeup if we wore it. Several games were shot in one day. We were encouraged to hang out and get friendly with each other, so backstage wasn't stressful really. It was lots of fun, and we got craft services food, which was nice. There was a long break between the second and third games so Ben could take a nap.
I didn't win Ben's money, but I got to chat with him very briefly. I got a show lanyard, a certificate of completion, and a really heavy clothes presser as a consolation prizes. I also ended up with a side gig test-playing game shows, because the wrangler liked me.
Everyone should try to get on a TV game show at least once. It's an interesting process.
I went to a taping of The Man Show. They had a prize wheel that people from the audience could spin if chosen randomly. The "random" winners were all seated last and came in with VIP badges. The first guy who spun the wheel won a weekend at the playboy mansion. We all cheered for the guy. Second guy spun and also hit weekend at the Playboy mansion! We cheered him as well.
Until they made him spin again twice more to get something else and he ended up with shave your eyebrows and they did it. We also got a single beer to hold till the end of a couple hours of taping to cheers with BUT MUST NOT DRINK. I know the magic of TV and blah blah blah, but it just wasn't a fun experience.
I was on Let's Make a Deal last summer. First, they told us to be wild and crazy and exciting. They asked us "interview" questions before we even went inside and told us they used that (and that they were constantly watching us in the audience) to determine who to select for each deal. They told us that when Wayne Brady was choosing who to pick we could go as crazy as we want trying to be noticed but that if our asses left the seat we definitely wouldn't get picked.
On a side note, I expected Wayne to be fun and talkative with the audience. But he wasn't. Every time they cut to commercial, he would run off backstage. About five seconds before continuing shooting he'd run back onstage. So there was nothing really fun about seeing him. All in all, I found it not very fun. It was exhausting trying to keep up that level of energy for an hour or two.
In the 1970s, there was a gameshow where celebrity couples were asked questions and earned points. Each point translated into dollars for that celebrity couples' cheering section. Our celebrity couple earned the LARGEST NUMBER OF POINTS IN THE SHOW'S HISTORY. So that meant that I, and the 99 other people in the celebrities' cheering section took home $45...EACH. in 1977 money! (That is almost $200 today!)
I was on Family Feud in October of 2000. The microphones on the podiums didn't work in our version. The real microphones were hanging from the ceiling, just out of view. The microphones in front of us were just a visual holdover from the Richard Dawson days.
Wheel of Fortune winner here. They encourage you to buy the vowels. They also told us to solve the puzzles as soon as we knew the answers: The more puzzles we got through, the more money we could win.
There is a huge table of food hidden behind the giant board for Pat and Vanna to gorge themselves on between episode shoots. That giant board really isn't that giant in living color. And yes, Pat Sajak is just as awesome as he seems!
2-Time Jeopardy Champion (1997) and Who Wants to Be A Millionaire contestant #8 (August 1999) checking in. Long time ago, but here's what I remember:
Sequestration. Contestants on NEITHER show were permitted to talk to the audience at any time. My wife was with me the whole day for WWTBAM, so we could speak with each other and with the other contestants, but NOT with the audience. At Jeopardy I asked for (and was denied) permission to speak with my wife.
I was allowed to have five phone-a-friends on the Millionaire show. They were contacted ahead of time, and instructed to sit by the phone between 7 and 10 PM. Also, if called, they were to answer on the third ring.
I had a network escort to make sure I didn't talk to anyone, and while he was escorting me to the men's room we ran into my father. My dad jokingly said, "If you have any trouble, just look at me and I'll mouth the answers to you." Network escort then moved my whole family to the other side of the studio so I couldn't see them.
Dress warm. For Jeopardy the temperature was just fine, but in New York the studio was kept at what felt like 35 degrees F. Jane_Aiur
I was on The Price is Right a long time ago. The only thing I remember is they "suggest" you give Bob a kiss. I won enough to pay off my student loans. I was so happy I raced off stage to seal the deal and forgot to kiss him!
I worked on a big competition show for a cable channel that's been on for a few seasons. We filmed our finale in "public"--basically, out on the street in a major city--so there could have been people watching from the sidewalk when we filmed the big announcement of the winner of the show, with the lights flashing and balloons dropping and the confetti flying and the music and hugging...which is why we filmed it again, 10 minutes later, with the loser, pretending to be the winner. They've just been on this competition show for a month, worked their ass off, and come in second... and now they had to pretend that they won, so we could fool social media. I felt SO SO bad for that person, having to pretend, while so disappointed inside.
Then they brought out two other contestants who'd been eliminated weeks before, and made them pretend to win. It was pretty surreal. Especially doing the balloon drop every time.
I was on the Singing Bee with host Melissa Peterson. When the show opens it looks like she is picking people out of the crowd who sing the correct lyrics to compete, but really we were pre-selected and flown into Burbank before the show and hung out most of the day in the basement level of the studio singing the same opening song over and over again to make sure we didn't fuck it up when we were on camera.
And at the end, when the last person is left and they get to sing the last three songs for cash, if they mess all three up, they get a do-over. The girl who won at my taping forgot and sang the very last song correctly so she only got a small cash prize.
The show is on CMT so most of the songs are country. I however managed to have to sing a damn Michael Buble song and was eliminated that round because why the hell would I think to practice a Michael Buble song?!
I knew someone who was on Cupcake Wars. A lot of time limits are fake. Most of the time they will tack on an extra 5-10 minutes, and if you aren't done by then, it goes on like normal. Also, the competition isn't done in one day. It's over the course of two or three days (depending on the event they are catering). The hunky carpenters are a lie. The competitors have to create their own displays and bring them to the studio where they hold them in a giant warehouse. They may "put together" parts that are removable just for the video but they aren't doing any of the original work or design. Oh and the competitors have to pay for the construction of their display out of pocket. So when you see really crummy-looking displays? That means the baker had a low low budget. So basically the whole show is a lie but I like getting flavor ideas from it.
Two-time game show contestant here (Millionaire and The Chase). What both shows have in common is that they often had me re-shoot reaction shots because of poor camera angles or host miscues. So, when I inevitably got a question wrong, my stupid pouty face and "aw shucks" response was quite possibly a result of five or six "Okay, let's try that again..."
I was invited to be on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. One of the random rules was that if you received a question about music, you were not allowed to hum or sing because the producers didn't want to be bothered to have to get the rights to that song.
I was on Let's Make a Deal a couple years back and they told us not to look disappointed with our prize unless we were legit zonked. Also, I worked for Disney at the time and they wanted to make sure if I was asked to say I worked at "a theme park" and not name which specific one.