VANNA-MANIA . . . YOU AIN’T SEEN NOTHING YET!
After years of being confined to coy phrases and simpering retorts to “Wheel of Fortune” host Pat Sajak, Vanna White’s finally going to get to talk to her public. Her pent-up words will be in a hard-cover autobiography--"Vanna Speaks"--to be released by Warner Books in May.
And that’s not all. You could be seeing a Vanna doll, Vanna cookies, Vanna yogurt, a Vanna cartoon series. . . .
Warner struck the deal six months ago, guaranteeing Vanna about $250,000 in advance payments, according to her manager, Ray Manzella. Then, faster than Vanna could flutter her lashes, a second deal was struck for an hourlong cassette version.
Outtakes got a peak at Vanna’s prose. She’ll be revealing one of her worst phobias (that she’ll run out of cat food), details about the five hair styles that she must wear on each and every show, her personal record time changing from one gown to the other during commercial breaks (60 seconds), her most humiliating teen-age experience (she got drunk on Boone’s Farm apple wine and lost her boyfriend), her secret Old World recipe for “Lasagna a la Vanna” and a pattern--with instructions!--for Vanna’s showy afghans.
Manzella tried 18 months ago to sell doll manufacturers on the idea “that Vanna was the role model of this generation,” he told us, “but all of them were asleep at the wheel and turned us down.” Then, nine months ago, syndicated columnist Bob Greene conducted a survey to determine the most important role model for young girls. Some 90% listed Vanna as their ultimate idol--Linda Evans, Victoria Principal and Farrah Fawcett weren’t even in the running!
Manzella said he’s fielded inquiries and offers from nearly a dozen companies, but that a Vanna doll and related merchandising will most likely be tied to a proposed Saturday morning animation series with her as heroine. “Hanna-Barbera and Warner Bros. Cartoons have both made offers which would include all of the toy merchandising--a doll, a Vanna van, Vanna’s dream house and other trappings.”
When Vanna was promoting for Nestle last year, she mentioned that she’d like to have a Vanna cookie line. A “Good Morning, America” reporter picked it up and now General Mills and Keebler Cookies have submitted written offers. And Baskin-Robbins has proposed a Vanna lines of cookies and frozen yogurt.
Merv Griffin Productions has been auditioning hundreds of teen-agers for what the company says will be “teen week” segments of “Wheel of Fortune,” in which teens substitute for the regular adult guests. Some parents got the impression that a completely teen version of “Wheel” is in the works, but Griffin spokesfolks flatly deny it.