Shortly before the legendary Bob Barker left for retirement (just a couple weeks actually) I arranged for a visit to see The Price Is Right being taped in person. I was an employee of CBS at the time so I wasn’t eligible to participate. So I just sat in the second row and soaked in an experience all of us have thought of — probably on snow days or when we were home sick from work or school, watching Plinko, the big wheel and the showcase showdown.
Thankfully, I didn’t have to stand in line or show up at the crack of dawn like the rest of the audience did. Once inside the studio – you notice it’s much smaller in person and though it’s a legendary studio (Carol Burnett filmed her show on the same stage) it’s actually pretty ghetto and not exactly state of the art. Ahh the magic of television!
You might find it fun to know that a guy holds up giant cardboard signs that have names of those who get to “come on down”. Why? Because in the audience – you cannot hear a single thing the announcer says because it’s incredibly loud. It’s so loud in the studio during the taping – other shows in nearby studios shut down their schedule because the sound travels into their studio. (Young & The Restless for example, doesn’t film while they’re taping Price Is Right as it’s right across the hall.)
And while “coming on down” are the magic words most people want to hear while they’re sitting in that historic studio – you better be prepared to fork out some money if you happen to win a prize. California tacks on a delightful tax to anything you happen to win while you’re in the state. Suddenly that “free car” can cost you a bundle. If you’re down for paying the taxes – one trick that’s pretty widely known – you’re being watched while you stand in line. Producers are always looking for people they think will look good on television and not freeze up. So, remember to smile and be outgoing while you’re out there waiting to get inside – especially if a producer happens to ask you or your friends any questions.
After the taping was over, I introduced myself to a nice gentleman named Dave Fischer, who sadly no longer works there. He happened to be the man that was in charge of all of the studios on the lot. After some small talk – he graciously invited me to take a tour. (Which was cool because they don’t do public tours of the CBS Television City building.) After about 2 hours – we walked the entire complex from the cool helicopter pad on top of the building with a perfect view of the Hollywood sign to the office of Victor Newman. (Duh, of course I sat at his desk.) We also walked behind the “curtains” at Price Is Right to find every single game more or less propped up against the wall. How bizarre to see the “hole in one” game and the plinko board just sitting there, lifeless, longing to be played with.
One other cool sighting – the Wheel Of Fortune wheel was sitting in the middle of the hallway on our way out. It was there to be touched up by the props department at CBS. Who knew!?
Overall – one of the coolest experiences I’ve had and what a neat opportunity to see TV history!