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Say The Secret Word July 30, 2008

Posted by Jim Berkin in Television.

It’s been several years since I made a serious effort to try out for another game show, but that’s where I was today, at an open-cattle-call that went on forever. I felt worse for the people showing up for the next session, which was scheduled for 6:30pm and hadn’t begun yet by 8 when I finally finished up with my interview & demo game playing.

I thought I didn’t do that well. I always think that. But since they asked the other would-be contestant paired with me many more personality questions, I’m guessing that I wasn’t exactly the exciting profile they were going for while she was. Well, more power to her and I hope she makes it on the air! I played the game (Password) decently, nothing spectacular to be sure. I’m not too bad at receiving clues, weaker at giving them, especially with a clock running. There’s some serious potential prize money on this thing, but a lot will depend on the celebrity they match you with and the words themselves. Cut to Clint Eastwood: “Do you feel lucky, punk?”

I don’t consider myself all that good at Password, to be honest. I’m better at the trivia-type games than at the word games (except when it comes to pornographic double-entendre, of course) which is why I made a bee-line for Jeopardy many years back & Who Wants To Be A Millionaire back in 2001.

No, I didn’t get into the “hot seat.” By getting through the levels of their phone-in qualifiers, I basically won a free round trip to New York in a freezing February and was handed $150 in walking around money, about $100 of which I managed in my incredible cheapness to bring home with me. Jeopardy remains a happier story, even though whenever I see the tapes of my episodes, I can’t believe how thin I once was. That was certainly a lot of pasta ago.

So, whether or not I am reunited with Regis for the latest version of prime-time Password is a crapshoot at this point, and I’m leaning towards the idea that I will not be among those who make the cut. I had the same vibe after trying out for the revival of 21 some years ago, after I thought I’d be more impressive if I went for the toughest questions during the mock game, only to find out later that they were after people who’d struggle with ordinary questions so that the audience could relate more. No wonder they had Maury Povich host the thing. Well, PARDON MY ENORMOUS INTELLECT you BASTARDS! What really hurt was watching the stupid thing and seeing how they gave away millions to people answering the EASIEST crap since they were in a ratings/pissing contest with both Millionaire and Greed. The wave was there, I just couldn’t catch it. Bah.

Then again, I’m happy to have gotten onto a couple of shows and won some money. Going back now seems like a bonus, even if my competitive streak lights up whenever I’m in the middle of it. Charles Van Doren’s recent piece in The New Yorker on his experiences on the old 1950s-fixed 21 makes for very interesting reading. Check it out. You can still get a sense of the shame this man has been walking around with like a cloud hanging over his academic head for fifty plus years. Van Doren let himself be used by television producers, but compare that fakery to the kinds of lying crap we’re subjected to on a daily (if not hourly) basis from the tube these days and it really doesn’t sound all that evil 50 years later. Then juxtapose Van Doren’s actions next to the far FAR worse kinds of crap that totally shameless celebrities fill the headlines with on a daily basis nowadays, and the tone of the article only serves to remind you what a rare commodity and unfortunately vanishing breed a guy like Van Doren is, simply because unlike far too many others, he’s capable of understanding true atonement.

Me? I understand it, but see no need for it. Well, not for me anyway. The rest of you are on your own. Stay tuned to see if I wind up on the show, but I have a feeling that the Password for Wagstaff will be “Pass.”



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