Ever since I was a little girl, I have dreamed of being on the game show “The Price Is Right” and of hearing the words “Katherine Pope, come on down! You are the next contestant on ‘The Price is Right!’”
I know it sounds like a silly dream, but as a child, it just all seemed so exciting and glamorous. The fabulous prizes, trips, cars, the games, the lights, Barker’s beauties, and, of course, the showcase showdown – what was not to love? And as a child, really? Who am I kidding, I love those things just as much now as I did then.
The first thing I did when I started planning my recent trip to Los Angeles was to secure a ticket to a filming of “The Price Is Right.” I am the only one cheesy (or crazy) enough to want to be on a game show, so I arrived at the CBS Studios alone but made fast friends in the line at the studio. I have never seen a group of adults more excited for anything; it was like the best Christmas morning of your life but for grown-ups.
There were people from across the country and all walks of life in line; we were all very different but united in our excitement. Many of my fellow game show-goers were wearing custom (and some not-so-custom) “The Price Is Right”-themed shirts. I instantly felt a pang of jealousy when I saw them; thankfully, it was a fleeting pang. The truth of the matter was I headed for some power shopping at The Grove after the filming, and as much as I love “The Price is Right,” I wasn’t about to go around L.A. for the rest of the day with it plastered across my chest.
To say they have the audience experience down to a science is an understatement, but I guess after 46 years they should. Upon arrival, your tickets and ID are checked, you are checked in and go through a metal detector, and then you are assigned a contestant number and given one of the iconic yellow price tag-shaped name badges.
While I was waiting for my turn, I kind of started to sweat my handwriting; it isn’t as bad as a serial killer or anything, but it’s not TV great, and I didn’t want to embarrass myself. Thankfully, they have a young lady on the staff whose only job is to write names on the badges, and I was very grateful.
Once your name badge is in place, you go through the magic of television green screens, get a picture of yourself with The Big Wheel, and then it is off to the group interviews. At each taping, there are a little more than 300 audience members, and they are broken up into bunches of 15 and interviewed in a group setting. The producers are looking for standouts in the interviews to select as contestants.
Spoiler alert, I was not chosen, much to my disappointment, but it worked out perfectly in the end. After the interviews concluded, we were ushered into the studio, which was much, much smaller than I expected but everything was there: the Showcase podiums, the shiny new cars, The Big Wheel, and even Plinko, my favorite.
Drew Carey was hilarious and put on a great show before and after the filming and during what would have been television commercials. The energy was electric as contestant after contestant made their way to contestants row and then onto the stage.
There was a darling couple in my group who were in Los Angeles for their honeymoon; they were both teachers. He was a high school drama teacher, and she was a third-grade teacher. When his name was called to “come on down,” I was even more thrilled than if it had been me and when he won “a brand new car,” I thought his sweet little wife was going to faint. They were adorable and exactly the right people to win. It was such a fun morning, one I will never forget.
The episode I attended will air June 13, so be sure to tune in and see whether you spot me in the audience. I was cheering loudly. CBS Studios, where “The Price is Right” is filmed, is right next door to The Grove and The Original Farmers Market.
After my eventful morning, I was hungry and settled on lunch at 189 by Dominique Ansel, which derives its name from its original New York City baker address.
They describe their food as “casual, honest and with a bit of surprise” and it certainly was. I was hungry for a little bit of a surprise, so I settled on Triple Sun carbonara. It is an interesting dish with a base of homemade fettuccine mixed with sunchokes, thyme and marjoram, and topped with a sunny side up egg, sunflower seeds, and dusted with Parmesan cheese. It was divine.
This was my first time eating a sunchoke, which is also called a Jerusalem artichoke. A sunchoke is the fleshy tuber that grows under native sunflowers. The light artichoke-like flavor made me an instant fan of this newfound delicacy. I looked for them locally when I decided to make my version of 189’s Triple Sun at home and had to settle on potatoes as a substitute.
It was good, but not nearly as good as the one I enjoyed after my day of game show excitement.