This guy’s got more than a clue
Game show researcher
Current credit: Head researcher on the new game show “Temptation,” which premiered this month on MyNetwork TV and in syndication. The show is an updated version of the veteran series “Sale of the Century,” in which three contestants can earn money to buy prizes by answering a series of questions about pop culture and current events.
Previous credits: “It’s Your Chance of a Lifetime,” “1 vs. 100,” “Show Me the Money” and “Camouflage.”
Game show experience: A winner on the short-lived “Twenty-One”; undefeated, five-day champion on “Jeopardy!”
Job description: “Basically I lead a team of four researchers to look into the material that has been written for the show. We are looking at all the questions that have been created that we will be asking on the show. . . . If the question writers -- the segment producers -- are the architects of the questions, we’re the construction workers telling them whether or not the plans they drew up are fine. We are making sure the questions are sourced properly and the information is accurate. . . that we are not misleading the contestants in any way, shape or form with regard to the way the question is written -- when we ask the question, the meaning we put out there is the intended meaning.
“ ‘Temptation’ is such an information-intensive show as far as the pop culture we are asking, we are basically making sure we are accurate, because it’s very important to keep the trust with the audience and contestants going.”
Tools: “We do use the Internet to a large degree. Because I have done research before, there are trusted sites we have gone to. Basically we don’t go to places like Wikipedia, and we don’t go to places where it is a user-driven site. . . . We go to the news sources and, if possible, the actual source we are asking about. We will go to PR departments. We use a lot of stuff that’s through the government. There is quite a bit out there that can be relied upon. Plus, we use the LexisNexis [database] sources when we can. We do have a small library of books we can turn to.”
Background: “I came to Los Angeles seven years ago -- I had been in the Air Force for five years previously. I decided to leave the Air Force and make my way to Los Angeles to pursue acting and other things in entertainment as well.
“I had applied to be a contestant on a game show, ‘Twenty-One,’ and became a contestant. I was on the very last episode and won one game. The contestant coordinators on the show asked me to get involved with testing formats for other shows. They knew I was a game player, I enjoyed games and that I had the right energy for taking part in a run-through. I was brought back a couple of times, which led to one of the producers of the show -- a Fox show called ‘It’s Your Chance of a Lifetime’ -- asking if I ever had an interest in research for game shows. He said, ‘Would you like to do it for our show?’ I said, ‘Sure.’ They said, ‘Can you start on Monday?’ So within a span of five minutes, I went from game show tester to game show researcher.”
“Jeopardy!”: “ ‘Jeopardy!’ is something I always wanted to try. I did the audition and took the test, and six months later they asked me to come in and be a contestant. It turned into one of the most amazing experiences I had. I played back in 2002 and won five games. The final total was $78,600 and a car, a Jaguar X-Type. This was before Ken Jennings and allowing you to come back every single time you win. Then it was five times and ‘Thank you for playing the game -- we’ll see you at the tournament [of champions]. And meanwhile, here’s a car to ease the pain of not playing again for a while.’
“I took part a year later in the tournament and lost horribly to the guy who had won the most money up to that point in ‘Jeopardy!’ history. But I had a great time losing and till this day say it is the best -- forgive the term -- butt-kicking I’ve ever received.”
Union or guild: None
-- Susan King