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The Game Show Convention Center
January 9, 2000

CDT




Time to Do the Right Thing

        I believe in giving every human being the benefit of the doubt. In my 31 years in broadcasting, I recognize errors occur every day. They happen on my own game show. Remember the 1990 foulup when the pilot of To Tell the Truth with Richard Kline aired on premiere day on NBC to most of the country? Mistakes happen. However, the production staff of Greed has a bit of explaining to do.
       Since November, the rules of the show have clearly indicated when the sixth player of a qualifying team fails to make the game, he or she returns to the contestant pool. However, when a game-playing team member is eliminated via Terminator, or loses with his or her team onstage, that player is gone and loses eligibility to return to the show.
       I want to believe Greed's editors made a mistake Friday night but if that was not the case, then every contestant who has lost as part of a team previously has a gripe.
       Todd Whitman, a southern California attorney, was part of the Thursday night team which returned Friday evening for a try at a $200,000 question. Whitman---wearing a grey pullover shirt both nights---and the team collectively went down to defeat when their captain, Joe Price, gave an incorrect answer and further changed another player's correct choice to a wrong one about former regulars on Saturday Night Live.
       About 40 minutes after his team collapsed, Whitman---now wearing a burgundy shirt---was suddenly back onstage with a different team. Chuck Woolery gave no explanation as to why Whitman had returned to the show. Whitman gave the number six answer and was reconsigned to the contestant pool.
       I've been unable to get any concrete answers about this over the weekend, other than speculation. Some are suggesting this was an editing error in which two games aired out of order. Believe me, even at the network level, this is possible---although, surely some network executive would have been perceptive enough to spot this before the show aired.
       However, as Greed was presented Friday night, the show violated its own rules. By virtue of the return of Whitman, Dan Avila---the celebrated contestant who gambled $200,000 and lost $2.2 million in November---would have a case for a second shot at the show. Every member of the five teams which perished Thursday and Friday night would be entitled to another opportunity. Heavens, even Herb Stempel may have a plea for a shot and he hasn't even been on the show.
       If it's a simple, honest mistake---fine. Then, Fox and Greed should do the right thing. Next Friday night, Chuck should make an on-air explanation and simply and quickly reassure viewers no special exception was made for Whitman. This week, the show's producers made the correct call with the so-called "dot com" team by bringing back a group which had been earlier eliminated on a disputed answer. A lot of the impetus came from viewer comments on the Web. In 15 seconds, Dick Clark's people could clear up the Todd Whitman situation just as easily.
       Based on my e-mails, I am not the only person who picked up on this Friday night. By a longshot.

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