Please excuse this interruption to your normal transmission, but this Thursday (as in, the night after tomorrow, as in May 16th) I’m going to be taking part in The Sleep At The ‘G – an event that helps raise funds for Melbourne City Mission, to help in all the great work they do in the field of homelessness.
I have a fundraising page right here… and any help that you could offer – no matter how small – would be mightily appreciated! And, as I say, it is for a very good cause.
Thanks for reading this far, and now, for no apparent reason, a picture of our current foster dog Douglas, in his favourite green blanket.
Thank you, and I’ll see you next week!
Hello Friends, just a quick one today.
If any Australian quiz enthusiasts are up for a challenge, the new season of Mastermind on SBS is still looking for contestants.
If YOU’RE interested in applying, let me know (email@example.com) and I can put you directly in touch with the contestant co-ordinator!
Message ends. Thank you for your attention.
Your normal service will resume tomorrow.
I have some exciting news to share with you today, which will be the culmination of quite a lot of work I’ve been doing behind the scenes…
But first, please come back with me, to September 2015, when I wrote and released How To Win Game Shows: the eBook.
It wasn’t just a collection of some of the best interviews from this site, along with my personal game show story; it also contained a number of new chapters that I wrote specifically for the book, along with new pictures, a lot of gags and numerous links to various videos.
I got myself an account at an online store – e-junkie.com – uploaded my book to it (in pdf format), and made it available to buy through this page, right here on the blog. I plugged the eBook here, I plugged it on Facebook and Twitter, I plugged it on radio, I plugged it on radio again, I plugged it on TV, and I experimented with a couple of different price points for the product.
Just between you and me, I did not sell many copies.
I now know that wasn’t the best way to do things. Doing what I did is not how you properly self-publish and promote an eBook.
Over the last few months, I’ve been on a mission to learn all I can about self-publishing the right way, as I prepare to release my second eBook – my behind-the-scenes diary of my year as Basil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers Live.
But all of my research into self-publishing – the courses I’ve taken, the books I’ve read, the podcasts I’ve listened to, the videos I’ve watched and the forums (fora?) I’ve joined – has made me realise all the things I did wrong with How To Win Game Shows: the eBook the first time around.
So, dear reader, I’m revisiting it… and this time, I’m going to do it right.
How To Win Game Shows: The eBook (3rd edition)
- will be available on Amazon, in proper eBook format.
- has been updated and expanded
- has been reformatted, to flow more smoothly
- has been re-edited and re-proofread
- will be significantly more affordable… in fact, for a limited promotional period (which I’ll obviously let you know about), I’m even going to make it FREE!
The relaunch will be happening in the next couple of weeks, so keep watching this space for more details. Or, if you’d like a more personal heads-up, please consider joining my new mailing list, which I’ve set up especially for the eBook side of things. Please just email me at author@TheStephenHall.com, and I’ll add you to the list right away.
And all you wonderful people who’ve already bought the book will of course be getting your free 3rd edition copy, as per the terms of my “future-proofing” guarantee.
Thank you, as always, for your interest and support. I’m really excited, and I can’t wait to get the new and improved version of the book out there, and into the hands of (or at least onto the devices of) as many people as possible!
I’ll keep you posted!
This week’s post is the long-awaited conclusion to a pair of posts from last year; Developmental As Anything – Part I and Developmental As Anything Part – II. What follows won’t make much sense unless you’ve both of these earlier posts, so I strongly suggest you do so now. You can find the posts by clicking on their titles above, or simply by clicking on this picture of Benny Hill in an afro for Part I….
So please, go there by whichever route you prefer, read the two posts, and I’ll see you back here. Off you pop.
* * * * *
All up to speed? Good. So…. as I said near the end of the second post, after I’d sent all of my written-up notes to the producer after the first of “our” two workshopping days, he responded with a lovely email:
All great, thanks
Was good fun.
Whoa, don’t gush dude – you’re embarrassing me. Anyway, that was on February 17th, 2017. Since then….
As I also mentioned at the end of the second post, as of late March last year the network in question were still looking for the show to fill this slot (in other words, it looked like they’d passed on this one).
Well, it’s now 14 months later, and the network in question (for those playing along at home, that network was the ABC) has indeed found a new(ish) one-hour quiz show to serve as the lead-in to their 7:00 news. It’s called Think Tank, and it’s an adaptation of the BBC show of the same name.
That being the case, I think I’m probably safe now to talk in a tiny bit more detail about this proposed show-that-never-was from over a year ago. The first thing that strikes me is how close (but not close enough) we were to the show that ended up getting the slot.
Think Tank positions 3 contestants opposite the ‘Think Tank’; 8 people representing a cross section of ordinary Australians. Our show pitted 5 contestants against ‘The Crowd’; 10 people representing a cross section of ordinary Australians.
In Think Tank, at the end of Round 3, one contestant is eliminated. In our show, a contestant is eliminated at the end of Round 1, another at the end of Round 2, another at the end of Round 3 and one more at the end of Round 4, leaving just one contestant to face off against ‘The Crowd’ in the final round.
In fairness, though, these similarities can’t all be put down to coincidence. I seem to remember the producer telling me that these were the parameters that the ABC had previously specified; they wanted something that would involve an inclusive, diverse group of Australians on screen; and something that would pit individuals against – and / or have individuals working with – a group. When I arrived to the “workshop”, the concept was already there in these broad strokes. I just helped to bring a bit more shape and structure to it.
Think Tank has 5 rounds across its hour-long running time. Our show had 5 rounds across its hour-long running time.
That’s pretty much where the similarities end, though – in our show, our contestants were always opposing the group, rather than working with them, we gave the host a co-host, there was more physical stuff happening in the studio, and there a few more opportunities for viewer involvement. We were mindful of the non-commercial nature of the enterprise (for overseas visitors, the fact that the ABC is Australia’s national, taxpayer-funded broadcaster means that no sponsorship or commercial endorsements are allowed). There were a couple of other twists and scoring details that I thought were pretty neat, but now I’m starting to wonder if I’ve said too much already.
One thing I was quite proud of was that we churned through the questions pretty quickly. A couple of things I found slightly frustrating when watching Think Thank were the repetition and the slow pace. Re-asking questions multiple times, and asking Think Tankers (who, as we’ve established are NOT experts) why they’ve chosen certain answers – including the wrong ones – feels like a lot of padding to me. But maybe that’s just me. It’s a show that needs to fill an entire (not just a commercial network 43 minute hour), five nights a week. That’s no easy task.
So I guess those notes from that “workshopping” session where I was left in a room by myself for 8 hours will remain squirrelled away in the depths of my hard drive. At least until such time as someone would like my help putting together another new quiz show, and I check them again, to see if there’s anything in there that I can re-purpose…..
Aha! I’ve got it! We just need to get a cross section of 8 – 16 ordinary people; “The Think Crowd”, four of whom are eliminated every second non-consecutive round by a random draw of the remaining six of the nine original contestants from the initial four rounds, (of course, that’s provided there’s been no SuddenDeath HeadToHead play-off, resulting in a FastestFingerFirst ClosestToThePin Tiebreaker Showdown.
No, this is good. I gotta get a pen….
Hello! Today sees my first ever movie review for HowToWinGameShows.com, and I’ve chosen Robert Redford’s 1994 film Quiz Show. I hadn’t watched this in years, so I thought I’d revisit it, specifically to review for this site.
And it’s good. It’s really good.
As well as being a morality tale about the ethical choices we make, and their costs, Quiz Show is also a cat-and-mouse game, as government investigator Dick Goodwin (Rob Morrow) tries to uncover all the corruption in the popular 1950s quiz show 21. And it seems there was a lot of it; producers giving the answers (and the questions) to contestants, contestants using that information to cheat, contestants deliberately losing games, the network turning a blind eye… the ripples of corruption don’t seem to end.
I’d forgotten all the twists and turns in the story. Its pace is leisurely (the running time is 2 hours and 12 minutes) but it’s never less than gripping. It’s a real examination of ethics and their consequences; the rewards – and more importantly, the costs – of the moral choices we all make. It’s not a happy, feelgood film. By the end, hardly anyone gets off scot-free; almost everyone has done the wrong thing and paid the price, or been caught in the fallout.
Watching the film, you can’t help ask yourself what you would do, if you were in the position of the two ‘successful’ contestants on 21; Herb Stempel (John Turturro) and Charles Van Doren (Ralph Fiennes). We all think we know how we’d behave if we were in their shoes; we’d never be involved in any corruption, any cheating; but the temptations of fame, approval and the money – so much money! – can sometimes tend to muddy the ethical waters.
But the ill-gotten gains – and the secrets that hide them – have a way of eating away at the conscience of an honest man… And Charles Van Doren can’t live with them. As investigator Dick Goodwin says;
“I asked myself, ‘why would he do this?’ He knows I’ll come after him. Then it occurred to me. He knows I’ll come after him… It was the ‘getting-away-with-it’ part that he couldn’t live with.”
All the performances are great, but particularly moving is Paul Scofield’s performance as Mark Van Doren, Charlie’s father, and the patriarch of the Van Doren family of intellectuals. The classroom scene when Charlie (Ralph Fiennes) finally confesses his secret to his father is truly heartbreaking. Paul Scofield was nominated for both the Oscar and the BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor for his work here.
The film looks gorgeous. Michael Ballhous’s cinematography recreates 1950s New York beautifully; all its shiny art deco interiors. The Van Doren’s country estate in Connecticut is picture perfect, too – all shimmering autumnal privilege.
The script by former film critic Paul Attanasio is by turns surprising, witty and inspiring. Quiz Show is a smart grown up film dealing with big moral issues, complex , compelling characters set against a lovingly recreated and beautiful backdrop.
I’m giving Quiz Show 4 game show buzzers out of 4!
And now I’m off to see if I can find any more game show related movies to review. Can you think of any? If you can, please do let me know!
Until next time…
* Please be aware that this site contains affiliate links to products. I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.
This week, I’m very pleased to bring you Part I of my latest exclusive interview for HowToWinGameShows.com. I was delighted, recently, to get the chance to talk to a real Living Legend of the Australian game show landscape. This man has been the voice behind THOUSANDS of episodes of our favourite game shows. He was the voice of Wheel Of Fortune, he was the voice of The Price Is Right, he’s a former host of Family Feud, and after almost 40 years in television, he shows absolutely no signs of slowing down…
He’s also a really lovely bloke, as well. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s the one and only John Deeks!
================================================================== SH: John Deeks, thank you so much for talking to me for HowToWinGameShows.com.
JD: My pleasure, Stephen.
SH: It has been – and continues to be – a very long and illustrious career, but I want to take you back to the early eighties, to start with. You were the voice of the Australian version of The Price Is Right from 1981 to 1985.
JD: The Price Is Right was a fantastic show and it was the first game show I did. For a start, we were doing it at Festival Hall, which was massive. And it was the first time I had worked with Ian Turpie. And I had seen him many years before at the HSV Teletheatre in Fitzroy, when my mum took me to see a show and I remember being in the audience and seeing him and Olivia Newton-John. This was in a show called Time For Terry…. back in the 1800s.
JD: So Festival Hall was sensational, and the audience was mostly made up of our European friends. Because over on Channel 9 you had Tony Barber doing Sale of the Century, where you had to know who the third King of Prussia was (and that wasn’t a question, so don’t answer it, smartarse)*… they couldn’t get that, but they knew how much a fridge was.
SH: Which is what that show is.
JD: Exactly. And our audience had a very large Maltese contingent. There was one instance… and I should point out that I had requested that I do audience warmup as well as being the show’s announcer, so I was integrated into the audience. And Ian Turpie would throw to me and I would say “Mary Vostopopolous! Come on down!” And Mary on this particular day jumped up – and back in the early 80s, boobtubes were very popular…
JD: You know where this is going, don’t you?
SH: I have a rough idea.
JD: And Mary Vostopopolous was a fulsome middle aged lady. So Mary leapt up, and they caught her on camera and, as she ran down to the stage, her very fulsome bosoms went NorthSouthNorthSouthNorthSouthNorthSouth. And as she charged down the stairs, with her arms outstretched, Mary’s top started to slide and slide and slide… and by the time she got to the bottom of the stairs, it was a belt. A very big belt. But Turps handled it brilliantly; he ran up to her and gave her a cuddle while we all tried to get our act together.
There was another time when a very large woman grabbed my hand as she ran past me – because I was positioned in the audience itself – and she’s pulled me out of my seat and taken me with her as she barreled down towards the stage. Now this lady must have been 15 or 16 stone (210 lb – 224 lb, 95 kg – 101 kg). And she’s reached the stage (Did you ever go to the wrestling at Festival Hall? Anyway…) She’s reached the stage, and tripped over, taking me with her; I fell as well.
Thank God she broke my fall.
SH: Oh! There was a bit of ‘cushioning’ there?
JD: A lot of cushioning. So it was an interesting time.
SH: Was she okay? Did she carry on and go on the show?
JD: Yeah, yeah I was okay – thanks for asking.
And that’s where we’ll leave it for this week. Next time, Deeksie reflects on Family Feud, and Wheel of Fortune, and discusses what separated the successful contestants from the unsuccessful ones. Until next Tuesday, then.
The Game Show Humane Society would like to advise that no 15 or 16 stone Price Is Right contestants were harmed in the making of this blog post.
* Looks like Deeksie might have been throwing in a trick question here; it seems Prussia only ever had two Kings Of it: King Frederick I (1701 – 1713) and King Wilhelm II (1888 -1918). There were many Kings In Prussia, though.
Hello! Just a very quick, non-Tuesday extra-curricular post today, to let you know about something I’m doing this month.
I’m taking part in FebFast – swearing off alcohol for the month of February, for a very good cause.
FebFast helps raise funds for disadvantaged young people in Australia. From overcoming mental health issues and the impact of abuse and neglect, to finding safe housing and tackling drug and alcohol problems, FebFast funds youth workers who connect with young people experiencing disadvantage and ultimately help them stand on their own two feet.
I’ve pledged to be alcohol-free for the month of February, and if there’s a chance you’d be able to sponsor me in this endeavour – for any amount – it’d really help to make a difference.
Thank you for reading this far, and I’ll be back on Tuesday, with the conclusion to my piece on All Star Squares (TheFunAndTheLaughterForgetAllYourCares).
Cheers, Slainte, Salut,
Thanks Steve, I’ll take it from here.
Just a quick one today, to wish you all a safe, happy and prosperous 2018!
May the coming 365 days be filled with love, laughter and light for you. And if you’ll be taking the plunge and appearing on a game show, please add ‘cash’ and ‘fabulous prizes’ to that list.
In 2018, I plan to continue posting here every week, and providing as many tips, hints, interviews and behind-the-scenes stories as I possibly can. And if there’s anything in particular that you’d like to see here on HowToWinGameShows.com in 2018, please don’t hesitate to let me know! I can be reached, as always, at Stephen@HowToWinGameShows.com
Now I’ll leave you to get on with all those New Year’s Resolutions… good luck!
MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYBODY!
Just a quick one today to wish you and yours a very, very happy Christmas. Whether you’re Christian, Atheist, Agnostic, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Rastafarian, Pastafarian, Sikh or Zoroastrian, please accept my very best wishes for you, your family and your friends this festive season.
Because no matter what our varying spiritual beliefs may be, surely we can all wish each other well. We’re all just people muddling along, and doing the best we can to try and make sense of it all. The things we have in common far outweigh our few superficial differences.
A very happy, safe and kind holiday season to you and yours, and may 2018 bring all that you wish for…. and then just a little bit more.
Peace, love and light.