When I was 8 or 9 years old, I took the antenna off a transistor radio and attached a Ping-Pong ball, which I colored black, to the top of it – all so I could have a pencil-thin “stick-mic” just like the iconic one the legendary Bob Barker used when he hosted “The Price Is Right.”
According to my parents, I would run around the house playing the role of the show’s host, occasionally emulating the show’s late great announcer Johnny Olsen, bellowing, “come on down!”
So imagine my giddiness when the show reached out to me about being a “guest model.” I was over the moon!
When taping day finally came after a few months of eager anticipation, a smile remained with me from the moment I drove onto the lot at the famed CBS Television City in Los Angeles until I fell asleep that night (and probably beyond).
It was everything I had hoped the experience would be, made even better by the kindness and enthusiasm from everyone involved in the show that I came into contact with. The energy on “The Price Is Right” set is infectious.
From the makeup artist who has worked on the show for decades to the director, producers, stagehands and crew, it seems everyone there can’t believe they get to have this much fun at their job every day. And host Drew Carey and announcer George Gray each made it abundantly clear that they don’t take their great gigs for granted for a moment.
Yes, they all work really hard, but hey – they’re bringing so much joy every day to the most enthusiastic studio audience I have ever seen. The pure joy coming from the hundreds of price tag-wearing potential contestants – dare I use the cliché – is palpable. I felt it all through my core and the resultant smile was as natural as they come.
Let me be clear: It’s not just a bunch of waving and pointing when you’re modeling the great prizes they give away. Oh, no, there was a definite learning curve with the choreography and specific way each prize is presented, something the show’s regular models make seem so effortless.
I’m not kidding – there was a lot of stuff to know. It may seem obvious, but don’t block the prizes! That was my rookie mistake of the day. And wave big from “position one” by the driver’s door of the new car as the curtain opens, before hustling immediately to the trunk for the next shot, looking at the camera, not the contestant, Drew or the audience. Obvious, right?
Thank goodness for the floor directors. How to move around the set is TV 101, but it was my first day on the job. These guys were truly awesome and “held my hand” throughout the whole show, making sure I was where I needed to be the moment I needed to be there. And without the “what a hassle teaching Mr. TV guy how to do this” attitude! They were consummate pros, great fun to be around and just the nicest guys.
My special thanks to the gentleman who reminded me to keep my hands close to my body as I came around on the turntable with the cooking appliances so as not to have lost a limb to the staging machinery. Thankfully, I heeded his advice.
A few weeks before I flew out for the show, I was asked to list some of my favorite things – hobbies, places I liked to travel and gadgets. To then see they constructed an entire showcase out of things I was passionate about was just crazy. And I got to present it!
What were those prizes? Was the person who bid on my showcase closer than their opponent to the actual retail price without going over? You’ll have to tune in to my episode of “The Price Is Right” when it airs in January.
In the meantime, be sure to join me as I take you behind-the-scenes on Thursday, October 31, at 11 pm ET/PT on Showbiz Tonight, as part of our week of 'Game Show Madness'. It’s a full-circle moment in my life that I may never “come on down” from!