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April 24, 2014

Perfect Showcase bid was a "dark day" on The Price is Right, says Drew Carey

by Joel Keller, posted Sep 24th 2009 2:09PM
Drew Carey on Season 38 of The Price is RightWhen I came upon Drew Carey at CBS's TCA party over the summer, he was tapping away on his iPhone. He was sending a tweet to one of the responders on one of his two Twitter feeds, and was generally having a ball. So I figured he was in a good mood to talk about the show he's most known for these days, The Price Is Right.

It was a season of change for Drew and the show; the prizes got more creative, Drew changed his look, and the show in general did a lot to break out of the mold of the Bob Barker years.

Of course, those changes didn't go unnoticed, as some of the show's more "devoted" fans took to sites like Golden-Road.net to disparage Drew and say the show was going downhill. There was even a minor controversy this past season, as a contestant made a suspiciously on-the-mark Showcase bid, and Drew's reaction to it was less than enthusiastic (for good reason, as he mentions in the interview).

With the first week show's 38th season -- complete with set changes and a new website -- almost in the books, I figured it was a good time to publish Drew's thoughts on the tumultuous 37th season.

I'm going to talk while you Tweet.

Sure.

I see both your Twitter feeds. So I know the story about the Crocs...
Yeah, I was waiting in line in this men's room at the, I'm driving up the 5, and I'm waiting in line. It's like kind of filthy, there's only one open. The other one's...there's like two restrooms in the men's room in the same place, but the one was broken. And I was standing in line, I'm wearing my Crocs, and I go, wow, I used to be famous. This is unbelievable that I'm even doing this.

You're embracing Twitter but you've let the blog sit idle for awhile.
Well, I know. I had, I've been really busy like this last couple weeks. I've been moving my office and stuff. And like, I have a friend that's supposed to redesign, like redo my website and redo the blog and stuff. So I thought he would do it faster, but I'm just gonna...there's other things I want to blog, so I'm just gonna like jump into it and spend like half an hour a day. It doesn't take that long to do. But I've been kinda, I have been slacking off.

Let me ask you a couple Price Is Right questions.
(in a gravelly voice) I hate it. It's hell there. I can't believe they make me go there. (laughs)

Because I work from home, I get to see The Price Is Right every day. And I've liked the changes that are in there.
Oh, wait til this year. It's fantastic.

I saw some of the pictures that you had of the new set as you were shooting the beginning of season 38.

Yeah, you know the set where the podiums are where they do the showcases? And there's like a wall right behind people's head, and then there's a seam coming out of the one person's head? It's been there so long, you're just kinda like 'Oh, that's what it is.' But then somebody came in and said 'Wow, that's the worst shot on television.' And then you look at it, and you go, 'Oh yeah, you're right. That is pretty bad.'

I don't know why... But it just was a space thing when they first built it. But a lot of meetings (later) that whole section has been redone. There's a little depth of field, and we have a different background. And it looks like, even though it's brand new and it looks like a modern TV show, it looks like it's been there since day one.

They did such a good job designing it. And that's like the biggest thing is the set is like free and big now, it's just very exciting.

Take me a little bit through what happened when you said 'Look, I want to lose the round glasses, I want to grow out the crew cut and just be me?'
I just started to do it. I was so concerned about not screwing anything up. I asked at the beginning, 'Do you want me to keep my hair and glasses the same?' And they said yes. And then once we got a new producer, I was just thinking 'Heck, I'll just do whatever I want.'

And I literally just showed up without the glasses on, and (CBS daytime head) Barbara Bloom was there that day, and I just tried them on for her and I said 'Look at these, how good (do) they look?' And all the other people on the set were like 'Oh yeah, those are good-looking glasses. We'll try those.' And then I just sorta let my hair grow out. And I never asked them, I just did it.

Is it odd to shed the kind of on-camera look you've had for the last twenty or so years?
It's fantastic. It's the greatest. Very liberating.

I mean, you can still be anonymous, because you take your glasses off, you walk around, no one really knows who you are.
It's very liberating to just say I'm gonna grow a beard if I want to, I'm gonna grow my hair as long as I want to. I just got it cut, actually. Like I grew it longer, and I got it cut because it just looked better this way. And nobody told me, I mean, nobody says anything to me. I just, I grew this thing on my chin, they said fine....nobody said anything, I just grew it. And I grew my hair out and nobody said anything, I just decided on my hair. That's great.

Did that come with the change from Roger (Dobkowitz, the longtime executive producer who left last year) to a new regime?
I think honestly if I would've pressed for it, I would've got it. But I didn't feel this time, I had to press for it. I mean, I just did it and nobody said a thing.

And the prize packages have been great too.
So far this year, we gave away our first... well, we offered... I can't say whether we gave it away or not, but we offered up our first Mercedes Benz ever in the history of Price Is Right. We got a Lexus on this year. (The Mercedes) was an E350, but it's still a Mercedes.

In your blog, you imply that you guys did this to keep people guessing because that showcase that a contestant guessed exactly on the money last year.
That's part of it, but it's mostly because... to credit that in total would be wrong. It's really because it's boring to have the same prizes on all the time, and it's bad television. Especially with a game show, we wanted to have all the prizes be... it's a bad word, but people kept using a phrase 'aspirational.' What would you really want? Instead of what we're just giving you because it was cheap, or because a sponsor came by and said 'We'll put this on your show.'

Instead, we said well, if you were going to get a gift for your friends, for their anniversary, or a birthday was coming up, what would you get them? I don't think you'd really say 'Hey, I found this cool grandfather clock for you.' I got nothing against grandfather clocks. Grandfather clocks are fine. (But) there was a grandfather clock every day (on the show). Every single day. That's not a prize (where) people think to themselves, 'Oh I hope I get a grandfather clock for Christmas.'

Believe it or not, they never really had prize meetings before. They just, you know, there was a couple people that picked out the prizes. And now, everybody pitches in now.

What happened during that exact bid episode? What people focused on wash how unexcited you were about it.
I wasn't that excited. There was a ten-minute stop-down when that happened on the show.

Did they have suspicions that the guy was getting signals, or that he had memorized the prices?
It didn't look good. I thought it was a really dark day in the history of the show, actually. I wasn't happy at all, obviously. And I didn't, you know, they showed it in December when the audience was supposed to be the...

They showed it out of order.
Yeah, they showed it out of order. They showed when there was (supposed to be) our lowest audience watching, during the couple weeks before Christmas. I mean, you'd think, if they were really happy with it, they would've showed it in the fall.

In your blog you called some members of a certain fan site "telephone pole screamers." Did you read that site when you first came on the job?
Yeah. Because there was a producer on the show who followed it very closely and was concerned about what they were saying, what they thought. And as far as they were concerned, those were the real fans of the show.

And the problem was, The Price Is Right had no website. And won't until a couple weeks from now. By the end of September, they promise Priceisright.com will be up (note: it recently re-launched).

You know, this is the year 2009. And they haven't had a website. And as a matter of fact, the night before I met Barbara Bloom and (CBS entertainment president) Nina Tassler about hosting the show, I went to their website because I thought 'Oh, I'll go on their website and I'll look, so I don't look like an idiot when I show up.' Because I didn't watch Price Is Right every single day. And there was no website. I was just shocked.

And the CBS website, at the time, was horrible. It's way better now, but at the time, it was like honestly, like a Geocities page. It was really, really bad. And that's when they just had decided to revamp everything to be fair. And it's really so much better now. But at the time, it was nowhere.

And I thought 'Wow, they don't have a website.' So the thing is, if you wanted to get a message board message out, or get anything out to fans that are already on the web, and already into all this technology, there was nothing to do. And these guys from this website were into it, and they were fans, and that became kind of like the de facto official website for Price Is Right, because there wasn't anything. The show didn't have anything. And that's a really big problem, when you take your message of the show, and you farm that out to somebody else.

It seemed that no matter what the change you guys made, those fans hated it.
They were OK. Some people were OK with it, some people weren't, but at least they had a discussion about it. But the problem was that there was no official word from anybody, or nobody could really give them any straight answers, because nobody was allowed to because it was this outside site. You know what I mean?

What lessons did you learn?
The lesson is never start a business and give somebody else control of your official website. (laughs)

The first half of the year, you were really feeling it out with some of these comedic Showcases, then you smoothed things out the second half of the season.
I didn't like the showcases the way they were.

The old way?
Yeah, the old way. I didn't like all the models miming words and crazy characters. I just hated them.

Because it was 1970's humor.
I never liked them. Yeah. Never liked them. And soon as I had the chance, man, I was like, 'We're getting rid of these.' I felt bad because I was making fun of the showcases in some of them, because the prizes weren't connected together. It was like a prize, and then an unrelated prize, and then a third unrelated prize that was unrelated to the other two. And I was thinking of funny ways to like link them together so it would be funny.

And now, the way the showcases are, one prize is tied with the next, is tied with the next. The prizes are so good, you don't have to do anything. You just say 'Hey, look at these cool prizes.' I don't feel compelled to try to funny it up to make it more interesting.

But I liked Rich in the dunk tank...
Loved it. I love the pies, I liked Rich in the dunk tank. I like the models talking. There's a lot of good things, but you know, there's Rich in the dunk tank, and then I forget the three prizes, but it was because there was these three different prizes, you know what I mean? And you try to think of, 'What can we do to connect it all together? I'll put Rich in a dunk tank.' That'll be the connective tissue.

And now, we don't have (to do that). Like today we had a baseball one. It was a batting cage, an actual New York hot dog vendor cart that you could tow behind your car, and you could have in your backyard, for parties and stuff. So you had a hot dog cart, a trip to Chicago at a nice hotel, money to see baseball games, and a trip to Japan to see a Japanese ball club. So it's not a batting cage, a trip to Chicago, and a trip to Japan.

The third prize (in a showcase) always had to be a car, boat, or a trailer. That was the way it went. It was a prize, a prize, and then a car, boat, or a trailer. Unless there was three trips. So it was these great trips, and we just put them all together with this baseball theme. And we had Rachel in a batting helmet and a bat, and it was just great. There's nothing you need to add to that to try to make it funny, it's just a really cool showcase.

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Todd

They definitely had a Mercedes-Benz at the end of the Golden Road in 1978. The contestant's name was Florence.

November 05 2009 at 11:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Preston

First, I want to say that I like the new set, the new showcase and contestants' row podiums and the LCD computer bid displays on the podiums. The hideous green shag carpet is gone and I like the blue background and lighting. Quite a 360 degree change from the other week. It needed to get out of its '70s-80s look and get into 2009.

September 27 2009 at 8:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Octavarium64

So when Buy or Sell Michael does his homework, the whole staff is proud of it...and when Terry does the same, it's a "dark day on The Price is Right"? I thought I asked you what changed, Drew, and you didn't answer me!

September 25 2009 at 1:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mike

It only happened once during Bob Barker's tenure in the early 70's... He's right about it being a dark day.

September 24 2009 at 8:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
MCW

Hey, a perfect bid could happen. I know it's hard to believe, but it had to happen at least once in 38 years. It's only now that people have the ability to get that online within 10 minutes of it happening, so I bet it's happened a lot more often (though obviously without such oddball numbers).

I wish more detail had been gone into about that, and what really went down that day, because I was not watching when it happened.

September 24 2009 at 7:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
chrissthomas

Was this an interview with Drew or a valley girl on PCP? What is with all the...I mean like...where like he couldn't...when like the topic kept changing and...well there was like new sentences before old sentences were...you get the picture.

September 24 2009 at 3:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to chrissthomas's comment
Joel Keller

Cleaned it up the best I could, Chris... it was even worse that what you see on the screen. That's not a knock on Drew... that's just how people talk. I try to clean up the "likes" and "you knows", etc. before I publish but I can't catch 'em all.

September 24 2009 at 4:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Derick Brown

It did feel pretty disjointed reading it. Like Drew was doing something else at the time of the interview.

September 24 2009 at 6:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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