Yesterday, my family went to a taping of Game Show Marathon, a new CBS game show hosted by Ricki Lake that recreates vintage game shows--The Price is Right, Let's Make a Deal, all the ones I used to love to watch when I was a kid. Our attendance there raised funds for Stage Presence Studio of the Arts (our home away from home these days), but I have to say that even without any altruistic motives, I was excited to go. I am such a sucker for the game shows of my childhood. Yesterday, they faithfully recreated Match Game 73; just seeing the sparkly foam geometic shapes of the set and the orange carpet and the skinny microphone like the kind Gene Rayburn used to hold gave me all sorts of deja vu. The music, too--the chunky, brassy, wah-wah pedal-y, theme song went right for my solar plexus.
Lance Bass and Kathy Najimy were the contestants; the celebrity panel was made up of George Foreman, Kathy Griffin, Bruce Vilanch, Adrienne Curry, Adam Carolla, and Betty White (who I used to watch on the original Match Game.) There was a lot of mugging and joking and it was silly and fun (even though the constant retakes took some of the spontaneity out of the experience.) Then Lance Bass said "penis" and complete chaos erupted.
Let me say that Lance Bass has no capacity for metaphor. There was a question having to do with what a dentist says before making love. His answer was "brush your teeth" (which, admittedly, George Forman did match on his card. Kathy Griffin and Adam Carolla had both written "open wide". Bruce Vilanch wrote "Where's the cavity"? Betty White said "Rinse." Adrienne Curry tried to equate dental floss with underwear.) The whole "penis" brouhaha happened as a result of the question "Harry Potter has sure grown up. He spends all of his time in his room playing with his (blank)." Lance Bass said "penis!" quite gleefully. The producer immediately cut the show, and they had to bring in 20 different officials from the network, including the Standards and Practices people, to sort everything out. The producer later said that they did that because one of the celebrity panel had fed Lance Bass the answer, but I'm not so sure that was the real reason. Funny how a body word can cause such an uproar!
As the audience, we were such trained monkeys. We were told when to clap, when to chuckle, when to groan, when to cheer. I never had any doubt about the artifice of the tv world, but this really brought it home. Matt said it all made him feel a little dirty, to have to fake all that enthusiasm. Arin thought it was a wasted day. But I had a blast. And Hannah was so brave! When there were pauses in filming, such as during the penis imbroglio, the announcer came through the audience to see if anyone wanted to share their talents. Hannah got up and sang a song she wrote herself. And her friend Georgia got up and sang part of an Alicia Keyes song. I was so proud of them both. I think it was great for them, as aspiring performers, to have a peek behind the tv curtain. It was fun for me, too.
And, Lance Bass, next time someone asks you what Harry Potter's been playing with in his room, I suggest you say his "wand."
Update: Sorry about all the name misspellings before. I threw the post together before running out to get my hair dyed by the director of the show. I'm a redhead now! Actually, I'm more of a burgundy head. We still haven't replaced our lost camera, but if we get one soon, I'll post a pic.