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by Brick Walters, 1/14/00

Dc: This is DCR, a news program that is Not to be Believed! With the success of the TV quiz shows "Greed" and "Do You Want To be A Millionaire," TV producers and networks are jumping on the quiz show bandwagon and suddenly there's a wealth of new programs. But some of the latest offerings are directed at very specific demographics. Brick Walters reports.

Brick: Terry Lizardo is an executive at the Silver Weasel Network, and principally responsible for her network's decision to add game shows.

Lizardo: It's simple. People love game shows.

Brick: Simple? One year ago, everyone in your industry thought people hated game shows.

Lizardo: Correct. But that was before the Millionaire show.

Brick: So has anything changed, or were you just wrong?

Lizardo: Let's say we're more sophisticated now.

Brick: But in fact Lizardo and her ilk aren't more sophisticated. They are keeping with a long standing tv tradition ... slavishly copying a success.
A look at the list of new game shows introduced at midseason leaves one breathless! There's "21," "It'll Come to Me," "Top of My Head!," "Winning Lines," "Cents For No Sense," "Yes, I'm Sure! and "Stump the Crusher." All going for the same audience ... or are they? Trey Phillips is a game show producer.

Trey: A lot of game shows are built to celebrate smart people, and that's great. But most people aren't smart people, and if you're not smart, seeing a bunch of smart people on TV is kind of irritating. You can watch "Washington Week in Review" if you want that. What you really want to see are people more like you.
So this new wave of game shows are designed to draw contestants and audiences of all types. Forgetful people. Slobs. Dummies. Arrogant know it alls. You know, ordinary heavy TV viewers.

Brick: One such show is targeted at folks in their forties who are taking longer than ever before to come up with a simple name, fact, or declarative sentence. It's called ... "It'll Come To Me."

(music: under)

Host Ray Call quizzes middle aged baby boomers about a wide range of triva. It's fast paced ... AND ... sometimes wild because any question that goes unanswered remains on the floor. Permanently.

Ray: Okay, contestants, here's our next question.

(music: end)
(sfx: sting)

Ray: What British Invasion band had their first big hit with the song, "Lola"?

(sfx: buzzer)


Don: Oh, I know that. Um ... gol!

Ray: Anyone else?

(sfx: buzzer)

Ray: Jim? Can you name that band?

Jim: No, but I did remember the answer to the last question yesterday. Was it Nelson Rockefeller?

(sfx: correct bell)

Ray: That is correct. The answer to yesterday's closing question, "What politician did Richard Nixon send on a goodwill mission to Central and South America?" was Nelson Rockefeller. Jim, you're in the lead. Martha and Don, you can still catch up. Next question ... We're looking for the name of the actor who played "Gilligan" on "Gilligan's Island."

(sfx: buzzer)

Ray: Martha?

Martha: Isaac Stern! It's Isaac Stern!

(sfx: "wrong" buzzer)

Ray: I'm sorry, Martha, Isaac Stern did not play "Gilligan."

Martha: No, no, that's not the question. I just remembered a question you asked last week: "Who played the violin solos on the soundtrack for 'Fiddler On The Roof.'" It was Isaac Stern!

(sfx: winner)

Ray: That's correct! Now, for five hundred dollars, can you ...

(sfx: buzzer)

... yes, Don with the quick buzzer!

Don: I found my car keys!

(sfx: applause)

They were in my pocket all the time! Ha!

Brick: Sometimes an hour of "It'll Come To Me" goes by and no one has answered a single question that was asked that night. But not all the new shows are aimed at the frazzled and forgetful middle agers. There's the whole borderline psychopath "Jerry Springer" audience, which producers and networks would like to drag into prime time, with shows like "Stump the Crusher."

(music: in)

The host of the show, Carl "Crusher" Hanshaw, is an ex-pro wrestling bad boy who barks the questions at his belligerent contestants. In a bonus round the winning contestant can try to stump the host, and by doing so, send him into a violent rage. But sometimes it doesn't take that long.

Crusher: Ok, Stella. Time to Play Stump the Crusher. Here's your first question for $100! Where's the equator? A) Around the middle of the earth. B) Halfway between the earth and the moon. C) In Australia. Or D) Up yours.

Stella: What kinda question is that?

Crusher: It's what you get. Answer it or get out.

Stella: How am I supposed to answer that. I didn't pay attention in math class.

Crusher: Where's the equator? A) Around the middle of the earth. B) Halfway between the earth and the moon. C) Australia. Or D) ...

Stella: I'll say D, Crusher. Up yours!

Crusher: Is that your answer, your final answer? Up yours?

Stella: Well up yours too!

Crusher: Is it "up yours?"

Stella: It ain't up mine, but it's gonna be up yours, you no good ...

Crusher: Is that your answer? Your answer is "D?"

Stella: Yeah, you moron! D as in "duh."

Crusher: Well look who's a moron. The correct answer is A, the equator is "around the middle of the earth."

(music: loser music)

Stella: It is not! It's up yours, you jerk!

Crusher: You want a piece of me? Come on!

(sfx: crashing ... fade)

Brick: The producers of "Stump the Crusher" say their set has to be rebuilt a minimum of three times per episode, but they claim to screen their contestants for violent tendencies and they say they discourage fighting.
Producer Trey Phillips expects these narrowly targeted game shows will eat into the audience for those with a more general appeal.

Trey: This is the process. There's a ratings success. You copy it and throw it at the public until they can't stand it anymore, and then you wait for the next big idea to come along so you can kill that one too. Next fall it might be historical family dramas. Or swimsuit model detectives again.
It's our business and we love it.

Brick: Out in the field, I'm Brick Walters.

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