Blame it on the fanatics cluttered around the gates of CBS Studios, but I realized that living in Los Angeles is like sitting on a goldmine of potential funds - game shows!
Americans come in droves from all over the country on a cash pilgrimage that could change their lives, yet to most of us Angelenos, it never even crosses our minds. The Price is Right has a kitschy cult following, and if one demonstrates an unhinged enthusiasm, they have a better chance of getting in. Cameramen even slide by the awaiting lines, giving people their one chance to shine on tape. Desperate fans camp out overnight on the dicey sidewalks outside of CBS Studios. I see them every time I drive by. Families from Wisconsin don giant plastic hats made to look like cheese, Masons arrive in red hats with black silk tassels, and Jersey moms show up with perms and day-glo acrylic tips to match their fanny packs.
I tried getting in to The Price is Right, but my inability to rise at 4 am combined with a general lack of excitement bordering psychosis ruined my chances. If I came with an entourage of manics in matching ensembles, you bet I would have made it.
I'm pretty good at Trivial Pursuit, so I went after Trivial Pursuit America Plays, the television equivalent. Except that it's not. I've played every manner of Trivial Pursuit; the 20th Century Edition, the Genus Edition, I've played drunk, sober, and angry. But what's played on T.V. is not the same.
Every potential contestant goes through a screening process in which they're handed a questionnaire. Instead of asking questions about, say, American history, sports and film, more than half of the questions covered pseudo-celeb reality stars such as Kim Kardashian, and really bad T.V. shows such as Veronica's Closet and The Apprentice. It turns out that if you're not glued to the tube, and pre-dawn hours of the tube at that, you don't stand a chance. When our contestant "quizzes" were graded by the show's employees, they said to remain seated even if we hear our name called. They rattled off a long list. My name was called. When they finished, they said, "If your name was called, you are not qualified to play. Please leave the premises and have a nice day." Slowly, we rose. All of us who knew of botany and international food, music composers and geography did the walk of shame off the studio lot.
If sitting in front of the television all night while the world is happening all around me is the only way to score a few grand, then count me out. At least the show was honest about the type of content it covers: trivial. Now I wonder if Wheel of Fortune tapes in L.A....