Seeing Stars: Losing and winning on "Lets Make A Deal"

Sometimes I get tickets to sitcom tapings and game shows. Most recently I got tickets to "Let's Make A Deal" at the Sunset Bronson Studios in Hollywood.

I invited my wonderful dog-walker Julie Cummins and her 18-year old daughter, Nicole, an adorable actress trying to make it big in Hollywood.

Julie and I are both struggling financially, and while waiting in the long line of other costumed hopefuls, we fantasized about what we would do if we got the unlikely chance to make a deal.

My game plan was if I won $2,000 or less in cash, a frequent opening deal, I would keep trading up, but if I got anything over $2,000, I would keep the money and go home. Nicole said over and over, she wanted to win the car because her and her mom don't own one.

We all looked cute. I was a sexy gypsy, Julie a crazy hippie and Nicole a cheerleader with sparkly green pom poms. I would have taken pictures but we were forced to put our phones and cameras in the car immediately upon arrival.

Some shows let you keep your electronics and you promise to turn them off. Other shows make you check them in, but this show is a no-go on the cells or cameras.

We discussed the need to be super upbeat and personable every second because they start auditioning you the second you arrive.

There's a whole lot of waiting after you fill out all your paperwork and are assigned a number. Basically you are herded into a room where you turn your paperwork in, they look you over, take your photo and then have you sit in rows of around 12 people. When your row gets called up to the front of the room, a casting person asks questions like, "what do you do for fun," trying to see if you have the "it" factor, look good on camera, have energy or whatever is the magic potion of their formula that day.

I'm highly observant and I could tell they loved Nicole from the first second although they try to play it cool. Once I realized my own dreams were dashed, I knew we should focus on getting Nicole on camera, so that's what we did.

She told the casting director she was just out of high school and from St. Louis. Believe me the girl and the camera are simpatico.

Once we were finally in the studio after a couple more hours of waiting, they moved the three of us around a bit, which I thought was a good sign.

Trying to keep the audience energy high, they play really loud music during the set up in the studio, so I told Nicole to dance it up. She didn't want to all by herself, her mom wasn't in to it, so I rocked out with her. She was shaking her pom poms to Lady Gaga.

I told Nicole and her mother that I felt the producers were looking at Nicole and taking notes but they didn't believe me. Then I saw the camera man line up a shot and I grabbed her and said, "they are going to pick you." I'm rarely wrong, so I coached her on how to play the game.

Sure enough after the warm up and one other contestant, Mr. Wayne Brady said, "hey green cheerleader, come on down." I was more excited than her mother. It was amazing; even though it wasn't me, that one of us was really picked. There were at least 500 people there, all wanting to be picked but Nicole made it. Darn I wished I had my camera!

Long story short, she won $2,000. She looked at us and we encouraged her to keep dealing and then she won a Caribbean trip for two, valued at $8,000.

When she came to sit back down, we were all shaking with excitement. Then the worrying and stress began. The root of all evil?

Nicole was suddenly worried her mom was mad she didn't keep the cash. I was worried someone else would win more than $8K and bump her from her chance to go for the big deal and the car she really wanted. Julie seemed very down. Nicole didn't know if she should go for the car or just keep the trip. She and her mom went back and forth and ultimately decided it was Nicole's decision. She should follow her heart and she said she wanted to pick door number two. Every part of me wanted to tell her don't pick two. I personally would never pick two but hey I could have steered her wrong so I said nothing.

Sure as the show is long, she was the high winner and she decided to go for the big deal of the day. Mr. Wayne Brady came up and gave me a big hug during a commercial break because I do love him and he coached her on where to go and all that.

She got up there, was totally darling and did a cute cheer. At the end of the day it will be the "Nicole Show" but unfortuantely she picked door number two, the dud deal. It wasn't a Zonk but it was office furniture vs. another amazing trip or door number one, which was the car Nicole came so close to winning. She was crushed, but I did my best to keep her upbeat, reminding her about all the camera time she had and some of us, uh-uhm, were leaving with absolutely nothing at all.

After the show, they asked the winners to stay, but they actually kicked her mom out and wouldn't let her stay with her barely 18-year-old daughter.

I was sure Nicole could probably be able to get the cash value for her $4,000 in office furniture but that is NOT the case. You must take what you win and have it delivered to your home, but it doesn't come until the show airs November 22. She will probably sell it when it comes because they are sharing a one-bedroom apartment as is.

At the end of the tiring, happy, amazing, then somewhat disappointing day, I revamped my game plan. If I'm lucky enough to go back on the show and be picked, I'm keeping the $2,000 cash!

Cassandra M. Bellantoni is a Los Angeles freelance reporter, producer, video editor and featured front-page blogger on Huffington Post. She is also a former chef, restaurant owner and breast cancer survivor. Follow her on Twitter @StarShineSpeaks or email

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