Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Going to The Price is Right

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

On our way to Comic-Con, my husband and I wanted to take a little mini-vacation. Nothing fancy, but something to perhaps give us a driving break or something from hauling all the way to San Diego in a single swoop. After some discussion about our various options, we decided that we really wanted to attend some tapings in LA. Well, it's not the season to go see the cool sitcoms being taped, but game shows and the late-night talk shows are still cranking away, so we arranged for tickets to both The Price is Right and The Tonight Show. I wouldn't generally recommend trying to do both of these, but you can make your own call after reading about the experiences. Today I'm going to cover the excitement of The Price is Right, and next week I'll do a post about The Tonight Show.

Our tickets said that we needed to be in line no later than 8:30am. I found out later that the taping would actually begin at noon and go about 90 minutes, longer if they needed re-takes and stuff. I also read online that The Price is Right oversells their audience by quite a few, and some people get in line at 5am to make sure that they get on the show! We weren't that hardcore about it, as our back-up plan would be to see the sights (it was my husband's first time to LA) and then just make sure we got to The Tonight Show in plenty of time. So, while we planned to get in line about 7:30am, we wound up waltzing up close to 7:50am, thanks to some slow check-out at the hotel, a semi-truck blocking the road, and navigating which way to go after we left the parking structure at The Grove.

We almost joined the wrong line at first, not thinking that people would be in line for the 4:30pm taping so early. I did some counting as we neared the end of our line, and by my math, combined with the numbered cards we had already seen people walking away with, I figured we were perfectly safe and would get in. Of course, that was based on another internet nugget - that 300 definitely get in. Two guys continued giving out numbers to all of the "priority" ticket holders, then they talked with some groups before telling us to "wait" and going to the 4:30pm line. I wasn't concerned until I saw some of the people from that line receive numbers and walk through the gates that those in OUR LINE were entering! The guy behind me wasn't sure we were going to get in, but I remained positive. Sure enough, the two guys soon returned and continued giving out numbers - we were #229 and #230. We turned in our tickets, took our numbers, and headed inside the gates.

The first step was paperwork. Just in case you win, they need to have your information. And, to make sure you're even eligible to compete, you have to answer some questions (do you have family members working at CBS? have you won before? etc.) and provide your SSN. Luckily, we were in the shade, though we were far enough back in the winding line that we were standing against a wall rather than on benches. We could see all of the steps that we'd be getting to, and my excitement began to build. (Though, let's not lie... I barely slept the night before! I was running high on adrenaline!) There was a small coffeeshop area but we didn't get anything. Instead, we waited until we turned in our paperwork, then received The Price is Right nametags, then got a chance to go through the giftshop. I was obsessed with making sure the font on mine was the traditional one - they fell behind and a second person did some of them, but they didn't look right at all! I was also a little disappointed in the giftshop... I was expecting to see more The Price is Right-specific stuff, when they were really promoting a lot of CBS shows. We didn't buy anything. The next stop was in front of a green screen, where you (and your group) pose like normal, then like you've won big!

After that, you finally turn the corner and see the next couple of steps. this was a real waiting game, and I read through a magazine while Jonathan spent some time on his Kindle. See, we didn't have our phones because we knew we wouldn't be allowed to have them inside the studio, and we needed to jet out of there as quick as possible to go to The Tonight Show, so we didn't want to have to worry about dealing with claim tags. The order we were in was repeatedly checked as we kept scooting up. Our picture was shown to us and we decided to buy it - $20 for an 8x10 isn't something we do often, but we both took a good picture (rare), the background was cool (the wheel!), and it would be the only photo we had of this occasion. We actually paid and got a receipt, which we'd use to pick-up the photo after the taping. Then, we put in our lunch order, even though it was only about 10:45am. Many people around us declined, but we knew we wouldn't have time to eat otherwise until after The Tonight Show wrapped up. We paid $11 for the Angus half-pound cheeseburger (the only other option was to save a buck and go without cheese, by the way) and fries, and our # was put on a list. We kept scooting down until, eventually, it was time to interview!

The interviews are done in groups, and you stand along a rail while you talk to the actual guy who picks the contestants. I had read online what some common questions were, so we were prepped. I was the first one in our group of twelve, and I think the guy initially liked me. He spent more time chatting with me than the next few people, anyway. He even joked with me later down the line when another interviewee said he was writing a screenplay. But, he definitely liked the life story of another girl in our group better, as she actually got called down and wound up winning a trip! She probably needed it more than I did, plus she was from a group of people, so no hard feelings. ;) 

Then we rounded another corner to go through security, which was just a metal detector and someone rifling through your bag. Jonathan's Kindle actually became an issue, and although the model can't take photos or transmit information, they still took it and issued a claim check, despite my stating what the rules posted were. After that we were pretty upset, as there were HUNDREDS of items in the bins that would need to be claimed and we would be in a hurry later. But, we were led to another area of benches where a television was rolling the very end of an episode. We had hoped that they'd start another, but all we got was a gag reel of contestants who acted inappropriately in the past. No big deal, as our lunch was soon delivered and we greatly enjoyed that. The fries were fantastic, though I would have loved some honey mustard for them. It worked out great, honestly, and filled us up for the next few hours! We also learned that there were actually not enough people in line for the second taping of the day, so anyone who didn't become a contestant could go to a certain area after ours let out to get a new number and re-enter the queue.

Finally, about 11:50am, it was time to be let into the studio. By this point we had seen many of our fellow audience members a dozen times and we were starting to guess who might get chosen. The process to get inside the studio was slow, partly because there were a couple of staircases and partly because they weren't filling the studio front-to-back or anything. We did pass a sign that said our episode would air January 11th, 2013, and we were definitely shocked to see such a far-off date! [Update: our episode has been pushed back twice and is now set to air June 15, 2013. I really feel bad for the winners, as they have to wait until the episode airs to receive their actual prizes!] We ended up with great seats, third or fourth row, behind where "contestant #4" would eventually stand in Contestant Row. As we sat there and they finished filing everyone in, we looked around - the place is much smaller than I would have expected! The colors are also much more garish in real life than they are on television. You can kinda see both the color and the size of the studio in the below pic.
It was only minutes later that everything got rolling and we were being instructed on when to cheer and, should we make it on-stage, to stay with Drew Carey unless directed otherwise. Drew came on out and made a few jokes and the next thing I knew, we were taping! I actually found it stressful to be an audience member, but maybe I was trying too hard. It was difficult to hear the names being called and the descriptions of what everyone was bidding on, but it was actually trickier to figure out when to stand, when to stay seated, and when to be louder. Of course, all the while, I'm trying to help the contestants by screaming out my own suggestions, LoL. I found it interesting that we did pause for commercial breaks (and the people at Contestants Row get to sit) so that the sets could be changed and different prizes brought out. I loved how funny Drew Carey was! He talked to us during every break, sometimes just telling jokes and other times selecting people in the audience to chat with.
Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS ©2011
CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
I won't give away what happens on the actual show, but I will say that it's one worth watching... quite a few things take place that aren't seen every episode! Plus, one of my favorite games was played (which you might be able to guess if you read another one of my The Price is Right posts!). While I wasn't keen on many of the Contestants Row prizes (or the Showcase Showdown ones for that matter), there were a few for the games that I would have LOVED to win! When everything was finished we sat for a few minutes while someone looked over the taping, and we ended up re-doing a couple of parts, which was a lot of fun. I can't wait to watch the episode and see if I can pick them out! Then, the people who "got called down" but didn't win anything were awarded their consolation prizes, and George Gray (pictured below if you can't think of any announcers other than Rod Roddy!) called out one more audience member to win a special prize. This was completely unexpected, but we still didn't win.
Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS ©2011
CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Then, it was time to head out of there, and it was fairly organized as we exited the way we came in. My husband went to claim his Kindle while I went to the photo pick-up area, passing the next round of audience members as I went. I did see the woman who mentioned there would be extra spots, but they had been given out by the time I saw her. Not that we were going to stay when we had other plans, but I asked anyway, LoL. My husband got lucky and didn't have to wait long in the claim line, so he met me just after I got our photo (which took a surprisingly long time... I guess they didn't put them in any kind of order?) and we trotted off to the car.

Here, I'll let you in on a small secret. The parking at The Grove is $24 because of how long you'll be there to tape the show. You can make it $18 by getting a two-hour validation at a participating store. I suggest Barnes & Noble, where we picked up a RedBull for a couple of bucks. We were in and out pretty quickly, and while I wasn't crashing from the excitement quite yet, it was coming. Now, if you're in a hurry, this won't work. In fact, I almost decided that it wouldn't be worth the five minutes to save the $3-4, as we were on our way to another taping across town. For that story, you'll have to hang in there... it's coming! [Update: it's here.]
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