We hear the expression, "Come On Down" and, no matter what our age, all thoughts instantly go to smooth game show hosts, flashing neon, clanging bells, and a chance to spin The Big Wheel. The popular television show The Price is Right is now in its 46th year, and it's a winning formula for the show, the contestants and viewers at home.
So it's no wonder that a small staged spin-off show that began 16 years ago in a tiny theater in Reno, Nevada, has taken off like nobody's business. The Price is Right Live™ is similar to the television show, using some of the same games, but is not televised. It's coming to Smart Financial Centre on January 25 and, though it's already sold out, tickets may still be available on the secondary market. But no worries, Houstonians still have a chance to play and win big.
We checked in with Emmy-award winner Todd Newton, a television veteran who interviewed many a red carpet celeb for E! Entertainment Television and who has segued into a successful game show career with the nickname "The Host with the Most®." He's been with the traveling stage show since its inception, which seems fitting as he got the nod from the great Bob Barker himself.
"It’s a very special role for me and it’s by far my favorite project in my entire career. I was fortunate in the fact that I was mentored by Bob Barker in some of my other game show projects," says Newton. "He gave me his blessing in the beginning, 'Hey let this guy have a chance.' I carry that with me always. Everything that Bob taught me and Bob’s enormous respect for the brand. That shows through in every performance. It's pretty special."
We warned Newton that, after Hurricane Harvey, Houstonians have been forced to price-shop for new appliances, cars and all sorts of household items as we try to rebuild, so it seems that we've got the inside track over other cities.
He says the State of Texas has always been one of his favorite and most responsive regions, and our area has remained top of mind. "When Harvey hit, we were watching and keeping tabs. If we can find a way to put a silver lining to that cloud, with you having the edge, I'm not going to tell anybody," says Newton.
Audience members can't watch the show without a ticket, that is unless they're selected to be a contestant. So if you're feeling lucky, do show up early and register; if you're selected they'll usher you to an empty seat. Visit The Price is Right Live FAQs page for the full 411.
"We like to remind people that all contestants are chosen completely at random. Everybody has an equal shot to get called, regardless of where you’re sitting; it’s a level playing field. It doesn't matter who you know; it’s all completely random," says Newton. "The fact that we’re game show fans first and game show employees second gives us authenticity."
So what's the same and what's different between the televised show and the live show? "There are over 90 different pricing games on the TV show and we try to bring as many on the road with us as we can," says Newton. "When you come see The Price is Right Live, it’s a lot like seeing your favorite band in concert. We play six different pricing games, The Big Wheel and the Showcase at the end of the show. We’re able to give more people the opportunity to come and play than on television because of the tweaks and the fact that we’re not limited to 60 minutes."
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The live show's success can also be credited to Newton's charisma; the charmer never seems to age. The author of several books, he's about to re-release his first book, Life in the Bonus Round: A Game Show Host's Road to Success and Fulfillment, which will be available for purchase at the show. "It has a lot of stories from my game show career that go back to some of the game show legends: Bob Barker, Gene Rayburn and the Match Game, Chuck Barris from The Gong Show. It’s never felt like work to me," says Newton.
We had to ask about one of his other books, The Host with the Most: Tales of a Tattooed Television Personality, and Newton laughed. "I’m quite certain that I have more tattoos than any other game show host in history. Some people buy T-shirts, I get permanent art. I like to take it with me."
So while contestant Ryan Glass of Century City, California, just broke an all-time record playing Plinko on the television show, let's hope Houstonians perform just as well when The Price is Right Live comes to town. We could certainly use the break.
The Price is Right Live begins at 8 a.m. January 25, Smart Financial Centre, 18111 Lexington Boulevard, Sugar Land, 281-207-6278, smartfinancialcentre.net.