Friday, January 12, 2007

The rundown - Part I - Waiting, waiting and more waiting

I really owe you people a post. Things have been a little hectic since we got back, so I apologize for the delay (assuming that any of you really's entirely possible that I'm the only one who will ever read these words).

Anyway, why don't we pick things up from about 6:30 Tuesday morning, which was the last time you heard from us until after the taping had actually ended. As you might recall, we received our order-of-arrival slips at 6 a.m., having just completed an almost-five-hour wait on the sidewalk in front of CBS Television City.

Here by the way, is a photo of the sidewalk on which we waited, taken from across the street:

That whole sidewalk (and beyond) was packed with people when the CBS gates opened at 6. Here's a closer shot of the area in which we actually stood/sat/waited:

Looks comfy, doesn't it? And here's the bagel shop from which we rented our chairs (and which I'm sure makes a killing on "Price Is Right" audience members doing the overnight wait):

So we came back at 7:30 a.m. as instructed and sat on long metal benches in numerical order of arrival. These benches constitute the audience holding area, where we spent quite a bit of time over the next several hours. Unfortunately, though, I don't have any photos of them because I left my cell phone back in the hotel room, since you can't take any electronic devices into the studio.

Once we were all seated, we received a nice pep talk from Chuck, the contestant coordinator who would shepherd us through the whole process. Chuck was a contestant himself back in March of '05 and loved it so much that he applied for a job on the show. Now he apparently heads up the contestant babysitting process. A great American success story, really.

Chuck went around and talked to each and every person there to find out where we were all from. Later he asked if anyone was celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, divorces (really), etc. Then he gave us some further instructions and we were issued our official priority numbers. Dave was #68 and I was #69 (very similar to our order-of-arrival slips), and we were given our last bit of freedom for the day, being told to come back at 9:30 a.m.

Dave and I went and had breakfast at this nice little deli in an outdoor market -- yes, Ohioans, how often do you get to eat breakfast outside in January??. Dave felt a little sick after breakfast, like he was going to throw up or something, but thankfully it passed and we went back to our room. I was going to post a blog update at that point, but chose that time to go on the fritz, so I couldn't.

Anyway, we went back at 9:30, and from there I'm a little fuzzy on the next few hours. It was a lot of waiting, I remember, but I know it included a few things:

- Getting a yellow contestant card, half of which we had to fill out with name, Social Security number, etc., tear off and give to a CBS page.

- Getting our official "Price Is Right" name tags, a highlight of the day for everyone involved. Chuck wrote out all the tags, and as I told him when he passed by, the man has some nice handwriting.

- Getting another pep talk from Chuck. Only this time, it was a real pep talk. He got us all excited about the show and our role in it, and he had us practice cheering for Bob, which everyone seemed to enjoy.

- Going through the contestant interview.

The interview was obviously a key point in the day for me, because those few seconds would be my best chance to convince the producers that I should be selected as a contestant. We were sent in groups of 12 to another area of benches to go and interview with Stan, another producer/contestant coordinator guy. Stan would go down the line and ask each person some very basic questions: Where are you from? What do you do? And then he'd ask follow-up questions based on your answers.

Stan talked first to Dave, then he came to me. He asked me where I was from, and I told him, "Wickliffe, Ohio, just outside of Cleveland, where I have these five little ones at home waiting for me (POINTING TO THE PICTURE OF THE KIDS ON MY SHIRT). They've all been watching the show since they were toddlers, and they insisted that I come out here when we heard that Mr. Barker was going to retire."

Stan then said something that I didn't quite catch, followed by, "Do I have to call child protective services, since you're out here and not with the kids?" I told him, "No, no, their mother is with them. It's cool." He then asked me, "So what do you do, besides raising and making kids?" I told him I was a PR guy for a large charitable foundation, which he said "must be cool." I agreed it was, and that was it. He moved on.

At that point we were taken around to the other side of the building to join the people who had already been interviewed. It was about 1 p.m., and we waited around for another hour-plus while they completed the interview process.

One thing I should note here: It's hard to convey a sense for just how darned long this whole thing was, and how tired we really were. At times we were high on adrenaline, especially when something exciting or fun would happen, but at other times we were ready to sleep. We could barely keep our eyes open. The TPIR contestant experience is as much a test of endurance as anything else.

As we waited for the other interviews to be completed, we met some more interesting people. There were:

* Georgialynn and her husband from Hawaii (she would later be picked as a constestant)

* Brian and Grace from Orange County. He's a minister and she's a Bible student in college, though judging by the way they hung all over each other and laid next to each other on the sidewalk during our nighttime wait, I'd say they're affiliated with the Church of Free Love.

* Pat from Arizon, a "Price Is Right" devotee who had attended the previous day's show but hadn't been picked to come on down. She drilled me on the prices of various prizes and strategies for pricing games. The people around us were alternately amazed and frightened by the combined body of pricing knowledge Pat and I possessed.

* Jody from Wisconsin who, I'm told (and I base this only on second-hand information after the fact...I didn't see it happen at the time) actually wet herself when she was called as the ninth and final contestant of the day near the end of the show.

Round about 2:15 p.m. we finally lined up and started making our way into the Bob Barker Studio (yes, it's really called that). We walked up a flight of stairs and through a pair of double doors, and there it was. My first impressions were no different than those of probably 90% of the people who have been there:

(1) It's incredibly small. I mean, you have no sense for how small that studio is when you watch the show on TV. I'll bet there aren't any more than 12-15 rows of chairs in the center section. On TV, it looks like there are 30 or 40.

(2) It's very cold. I'm used to that, though, having spent a good chunk of time in television studios as part of my job.

Since we had relatively low priority numbers, we got seats right up front. Dave and I were seated in the fifth row, almost smack in the middle. I'm not sure there are better seats in the whole studio, and we were thrilled.

In the remaining minutes before the taping began, they played upbeat music on the sound system, causing those of us in the pumped-up crowd to clap our hands, sway with the music, and just generally get ourselves psyched for what was about to happen. When you've waited more than 13 hours for something, you'll get excited over just about anything.

At about 2:30 - the scheduled time of the taping - "Price Is Right" announcer Rich Fields came on stage to warm us up. He told some jokes, gave us some last-minute instructions (including the suggestion that we watch Jeff, the stage manager, so that we knew when to get up and cheer). Suddenly, Rich said, "Are you ready to get started?" And of course we responded with a deafening, "Yes!!" Rich sprinted over to his announcer's podium on the side of the stage, put on his headphones, and suddenly the music started and Jeff was telling us to cheer. The program was actually starting. It was almost surreal.

Of course, it was about to get a LOT more surreal for me....



  1. Now you've got me all pumped up - can't wait for the next installment. Don't keep us waiting too long.

  2. Ha-ha!! Waiting is the name of the game, eh Scott? Judi, you will just have to be patient. Do you think Scott and David learned a little bit more about patience with this "tpir adventure"? Seriously, I am anxiously awaiting the next installement as well, plus I look forward to seeing the photos Dave took. He said they had really great time in L.A. I am so glad that Scott and Dave got to share the experience.