Wednesday, February 06, 2002

Game Show Me the Money!: William
In mid-January, William Jarry was a contestant on the 30th anniversary episode of the Price is Right. This is his story.

How did you first connect with the Price Is Right?

I was going to Las Vegas anyway with my buddy Jeff, who called me about three weeks earlier to say his work friends cancelled on him, but he still wanted to go. I jumped on the opportunity. We had no idea about the Price is Right until three days before we left, when Jeff was home sick from work with a sprained ankle and happened to notice the ad while watching the game show in its regular time slot. Because we were going to be there on Jan. 17, the day they were taping, we decided that, if nothing else, it would be a great distraction from losing our shirts in the casino!

Why did you want to be on the Price Is Right?

What person doesn't want to be on national TV, especially on the 30th anniversary primetime special of the world's number one game show? Jeff and I were both fans from our childhood (What kid doesn't grow up watching the Price Is Right?), so it seemed like it would be a blast, even if we only got to be in the audience and didn't get called down.

Did you have to go through any kind of application, interview, or screening process?

Not really. But getting tickets for the show was another story, though.  We got there at 1 a.m. Thursday (having not slept since Tuesday night) to find thousands of people already in line. They were supposed to start lining up at 6 a.m., and then pass out 900 tickets at 10 a.m.  (There were also 600 tickets that were comped out to VIP's, for a total of 1,500 people in the Samba Theater of the Rio Hotel and Casino). Unfortunately, there were more than 10,000 people there -- some who had even slept there from the night before -- so our chances looked slim.  There were also about three or four different lines, with everyone in them claiming to be in the "correct" line. 

Jeff and I had come with a friend of a friend who lived in Vegas, Amanda, so the three of us split up and each took a line, communicating through cell phones if one started moving. We also did a little sneaking and cutting in line -- guerrilla tactics were necessary for this situation. At 6:45 a.m., one of the lines started moving into the theater. I was in the right line, and my friends were gone! I called Jeff, he held my spot, and I ran to get Amanda, who at this point had made friends with five cute girls from Utah and a random guy named Steve from Kansas City. We joined forces, ran back to get Jeff, and unfortunately never caught up to him. 

The crowd was so huge, and people were pushing so much that they dropped the gates to the Theater, brought in security and the State Police, and then told everyone the show was sold out -- and that they had to go home.  Meanwhile, Jeff was the last one they let in! I went back to the casino with Amanda, almost in tears for not making it through, and called my mom at 7:15 a.m. to give her the bad news. They were all pulling for me back home. Then I got the call. Jeff had borrowed a cell phone from inside the Theater and told me that he got ticket 555, and he was the last one in, so there were at least 345 tickets still available. The cops lied to get us out of there because of the fire hazard! I knew we still had a chance, so I went back to the box office gate to find 300-plus people still there with the same idea.  People were threatening to sue the hotel with a class action lawsuit. Old ladies had literally beaten guards with their canes. It was a mess. 

We hooked up with the Utah girls again, and then I got the brilliant idea to pimp them out to security guards. You always get further by being nice to people. Some were married, so I had them take off their rings, then go butter up the guards to figure out the deal. Sure enough, a guard named Vito let Brittany know that they were waiting for people to leave. At about 10-11-ish they would unleash the remaining tickets to those who waited patiently. So the Utah girls had Uno with them, and my whole crew sat on the floor nicely, while staying in touch with Jeff on the inside. 

Sure enough, at 11 a.m., Vito comes by and gives us a nod. We get right up to the front of the line, and then about 15 guards form a human chain blocking about 300 people in to get onto the show, and everyone else out! We went in, screaming like crazy with excitement, and received out golden tickets (I was 781 -- barely in!) and name tags -- we were in the audience! We got outta there and had a couple hours to kill before we had to meet back at the theater. We got Jeff and grabbed a bite to eat.

I guess that the producers would be hiding in line to try and see who was crazy/fun to have on the show, and I figured these "interviews" we had to do would be a screening process so they didn't pick a "dud" for the show. I told everyone -- the Utah girls, Jeff, Steve, and Amanda, that no matter what, we were going to go nuts in line, and we did. We stopped at the hotel, and I grabbed my bright orange soccer shirt with my name on the back for recognition, and we headed to the interviews. We waited in line from 2-9 p.m. to get into the theater, and all the while I was starting "Team Utah," "Bob Barker," "Line 7" (the line we were in), etc. chants, and getting hundreds of people all riled up. 

We were so crazy we actually got interviewed for Channel 4 news and The Las Vegas Sun while we were in line. If they noticed us, I hoped the producers did, too! Finally, we went through the metal detectors, ran into the Theater, and met with two producers who literally only asked "What's your name, where are you from, and what do you do?" I knew this was my chance, so I screamed and jumped in front of them, shouting "I'm Bill, and I came all the way from Boston to see Bob Barker! I'm a musician!"  I figured if I told them I was an investment banker, they might think I could do numbers too quickly or well, so I went with the pity for the musician -- stereotypically poor and dumb -- perfect for the show! (I actually do play drums, so I wasn't lying either). 

They asked me what instrument I played, and then I ran off screaming, jumping, and going nuts. I made it up to my seat -- on the second balcony, and then just waited for the show to begin while they showed us clips from past anniversary episodes. While I was waiting for the show to start, I saw the producers combing the aisles, looking for the people they picked -- where they were sitting so the cameras would know where to go when the chosen were called. I didn't hear it, but Denise, one of the Utah girls, heard the producers two rows in front of us say, "There he is, the guy with the orange shirt. It's him."  I didn't believe her, but just sat there with my stomach going crazy like I would throw up. At that point, I also had had to go to the bathroom for five hours. I couldn't move. I was so nervous!

What was the actual experience in the game show's studio like?

Sure enough: "William Jarry, come on down!" was called after the first pricing game, and I exploded! I hugged everyone I was with -- then ran up the stairs to the elevator, escorted by producers and assistants to an elevator, taken downstairs, then set up to run down the aisle. The place was unbelievable! It was so big. The people were going crazy. The stage was just like on TV -- it hasn't changed in 30 years at all! Everyone in the audience was so happy for me. They were all trying to slap me five as I ran down the aisle to contestant row. I was so nervous, excited, everything -- it was just too much to handle. The excitement in that room was indescribable.

It was really hard to think straight when pricing items to get out of contestant row and on stage. There was a lot of pressure, so it took me a couple of bids, but I made it. From the stage, the audience looked massive. I could barely see my crew letting me know what game was next, and what to bid on -- they were signaling Plinko though -- I got to play the most popular game on the Price Is Right! There were tons of people with Plinko shirts in the audience. One guy even had a Plinko rain hat complete with chips hanging from it. People went wild!

Bob was great. He was all business though. It was tough to say, "Hi," to your friends because he wanted to keep the show rolling. Apparently taping usually takes only 45 minutes, but becuase this was a special show and he was taking time in between each game to answer questions from the audience, it took more than two hours to tape.  Bob led me through the game, I won my chips, and I swear I almost dropped them when Claudia handed them to me. She was so hot! All of the Beauties were outstanding, especially up close -- that made me really nervous! I did my thing, I won a few prizes (a camera, a boom box, and a water pik), plus $2,500 playing Plinko. I also won an arcade game (Mr. Driller 2) to get up on stage, so all total I won $6,181. 

After my game, I stopped to start to fill out my tax forms, and then had to get up and run out to the bathroom finally, almost in the middle of taping! People were high-fiving me all the way into the bathroom -- it was great to see everyone happy for me, rather than jealous that they weren't the ones picked. I was pleasantly surprised! I came back, did the forms, got the assistant's number so she would send  me autographed pictures from all of the Beauties later, then finished the show. I went over $1 on my spin, so I didn't make it to the showcase showdown, but because I was on stage, I did get Bob to sign my name tag! 

On the way out of the Theater, my crew met up with me again, we went crazy, and took a few pictures for the CBS Web site. Then, I swear, people wanted me to sign autographs! I had made so many friends in line while going crazy, that everyone was happy for me. After that, I took my whole crew out for a steak dinner at the hotel (The restaurant manager actually served us!), then I ran into Claudia in the hall! She gave me a couple of autographs, plus her exclusive modeling photos, and then invited us to come to the casino and the club with her later! We actually spent the night in Club Rio with the beauties, Rod Roddy (who was kind of an ass -- he wouldn't sign autographs at all), and a couple of producers, who I was sure to thank for the opportunity. 

Bob wasn't there -- he's getting a little senile so I'm sure he needed his rest.  It was funny during the show -- you could tell he'd forget a couple things here and there and they'd have to do a little retaping. Anyway, sure enough, our friend Vito was the guard at the VIP section, so we had no trouble hanging out with the stars for the rest of the night, before finally going to bed at about 6 a.m. -- from being up for about 48 hours!

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