Seven years ago I was called down to contestant row on the Price Is Right, but—as a game show fanatic I hate to admit this—I never made it out of contestant row. So it should come as no surprise that when I saw an article that the Price Is Right was doing a Survivor prime-time special, I immediately called my dad, who had recently retired.
“Dad!” I yelled over the phone. “You and mom have to come to LA for the Price is Right! This is what life and retirement is all about!”
For nearly 16 years my family has loved Survivor and has never missed an episode, so I was able to convince my parents to book a flight to LA for the taping. One of my best friends from high school, who currently lives in San Diego, also joined us. Since I was ineligible to get on the show—you have to wait 10 years to try again—it was my mission to get one of them on.
The morning of the taping I gave my parents homemade Price Is Right t-shirts with a customized Survivor logo: OUTBID, OUTSPIN, OUTWIN. We went to a diner at The Grove near the CBS Studios and I put them through “How to Get on the Price Is Right” boot camp:
- From the moment you step foot on the CBS lot, it’s an audition.
- Be the most outgoing, friendly, personable, engaging and excitable version of yourself while still being genuinely you.
- Talk to everyone: other audience members, the CBS staff, the maintenance crew, everyone.
- During the interview process (they take groups of around 20 and walk down the line asking questions) own your answers and the conversation. Don’t give one-word responses. Go in-depth, share anecdotes and give the casting director a reason to not want to talk to anyone else.
- Most importantly, have fun! If you’re having fun during the four-ish hour waiting process, you’re sure as hell going to have fun if you’re called down to contestant row.
On the CBS Television City lot
As soon as we arrived to CBS we were given a number and a questionnaire, which was atypical. The questionnaires were all about Survivor, which I loved! It asked questions about favorite contestants, seasons, challenges, et cetera. It made me feel like they were going to do their best to pick true superfans and to match people up with their favorite players.
My parents and friend Anne filled out their questionnaires, and I urged them to put down some answers that could potentially match them to former players that were likely to be on the show.
It was a blast interacting with Survivor superfans in the holding area: There was a woman in a dress with Survivor logos all over it, a sure bet to get on (and she did with Tina); families and friends in customized Price Is Right: Survivor t-shirts; fans dressed like Jeff Probst; and even a woman who had a printout of the YouTube page for her audition video. I’m sure there were some seat-fillers among the crowd, but overall the audience was packed with fellow superfans.
When it came time for the interview process, my family was ready! By this point we had already befriended everyone around us and walked toward the casting director chanting the Survivor theme song. The casting director walked down the line asking people their names, hometown, and job, plus a few Survivor related questions.
Out of our group of 20 or so, he spent the most amount of time talking to my friend Anne and my dad Tom. They crushed it!
When my dad was asked who his favorite contestant was he immediately responded, “Russell Hantz,” drawing some gasps from the people around us. He owned it and further elaborated on how he loved that Russell changed the game forever through aggressive idol play. My dad said he roots for villains like Russell, Parvati and Jerri who stir things up and make the game interesting. By the time our group moved on to the next holding area several people came up to us saying for sure Anne or Tom would get on—we could only hope!