So it's been a few months...figured I would finish out the Wheel story before moving on to other posts...
Taping Day, July 17, 2010
Sleeping Beauty had to be at a certain desk at 8:00am sharp at the Venetian. Scott's parents were kind enough to drive him over from our hotel to the Venetian. I kissed him goodbye, wished him good luck, and went back to sleep after he left. :) That was the last time we would see him until after the whole day of taping. The contestants are sequestered, kind of like a jury. Only certain Wheel staff are allowed to talk to them during the day. They are monitored all the time. They are not allowed to talk to family/friends, etc.
Peter, Nikki and I slept in and then made our way down to the buffet breakfast in the hotel. YUM. After getting ready for the day....
We hopped in the car....
And Bruce and Gail drove us over to the Venetian/Palazzo. We didn't have to look particularly purdy to be in the audience, with one exception. In the event Scott made it to the bonus round, we would be on national television. No pressure THERE, trying to pick an outfit that you may or may not be seen on national tv wearing. Speaking of outfits, Scott had to show up at 8am wearing whatever he wanted to wear for the taping of his show. He also was required to bring an extra outfit in case a) they didn't like his 1st outfit of choice, b) the HD camera didn't like his outfit, or c) he spilled something on himself through the day. I guess they approved what he was wearing because when we finally saw him later in the day, he was wearing his 1st choice outfit. :)
If you've ever driven around in Las Vegas, you know that that where you have to park and where you actually want to GO are usually long, long distances away from each other. When we got to the Venetian, we knew we wouldn't have time to come back to the car to drop off or pick up anything. Because of that, we had to leave our cameras in the car. There were absolutely NO CAMERAS allowed in the taping of the show, so rather than risk them confiscating our cameras, we left them. That would be why we don't have very many pictures from taping day at all! We took one more picture before we left the car.
(parking garages make such pretty backdrops)
Since we had just eaten brunch not too long ago, we weren't quite ready for lunch. So the three of us stopped at a tequila bar instead! Bruce and Gail, who had eaten breakfast with Scott at the crack of dawn, were ready to eat lunch and therefore branched off from us to do so. Nikki and I had margaritas. You'd have to ask Peter what he had. These next two pictures are courtesy of Nikki's cell phone.
We moseyed around the Venetian for a little bit before reporting to the taping area. It is a BEAUTIFUL hotel! That is a ceiling, by the way, not the real sky. Looks like you're outside, but you're NOT. Which was awesome since it was eleventy billion degrees outside and we were trying not to sweat too much.
There were two "rounds" of taping that day. We were told to be there between 1 and 1:30pm for the doors to open at 2pm. Our tickets:
We thought we would be SPECIAL since we had contestant guest tickets. Well, we were special alright. Special like "security-threat-special". We went through airport-like security before being let into a HUUUUUGE room with tons of folding chairs set up. This ginormous room was a holding area for the audience. The actual studio/taping area was next door behind some ridiculously large curtains. As contestant guests, we were seated in a specially marked section of the waiting area. At this point, we still felt special. After we had been seated for a little bit, a Wheel worker came over to talk to us as a group. He gave us an obviously frequently-given speech. He told us as nicely as possibly that contestant guests were viewed as threats. No, he didn't say it like that, but that is what he meant. He said things like "communication between contestants and contestant guests is forbidden. It is up to the staff to determine what constitutes communication." In other words, look in the direction of your contestant and sneeze funny and they might deem that "communication" and throw you and your contestant out. We were given special bracelets to wear and a label with Scott's name on it that identified us as contestant guests. Mr. Friendly told us that we would have the worst seats in the house, no lie. They didn't want us to be able to make eye contact or signal our person in any way shape or form. We would be given opportunities to go to the bathroom, escorted. We were not to leave our seats unescorted. In between tapings, the rest of the audience would be given a chance to move closer to the front, as other audience members left. We were not to move from our assigned seats. If we were found in "unauthorized" seats, you guessed it... we'd be thrown out. And our contestant too. Basically they put the fear of God in you about doing anything wrong!! Before seeing all this first hand, I thought the show was somehow rigged. The wheel is rigged, contestants cheat, something like that. AFTER our experience I can honestly say, I have NO idea how someone would cheat at this game. They have so many preventative measures in place, it seems impossible to me! Back to Mr. Friendly, at the end of his speech he said something like "Enjoy the show!" I was thinking "Yeah right! I just wet my britches you scared me so bad and now I'm supposed to 'Enjoy the show'??" Good grief! Moving on...
They seated us threats contestant guests first. They walked us in a line to the far back, right hand side of the audience seating. Our section wasn't even lit. After the show aired, numerous people asked why they didn't see us in the audience. I told them, "Oh that's easy, because they didn't even light our section, much less scan over it with cameras!" Despite being scared to death of doing something wrong, we were pretty excited about being there and seeing the stage all set up with the wheel and the winnable car (orangey-reddish 2010 Chevy Camaro) and the puzzle board. As was their plan, it was hard for us to see the contestants on stage or see the whole puzzle board. For our viewing pleasure, there was a jumbo-tron-type screen where we could watch everything clearly. Another common question from people: How did Vanna and Pat look up close? Well I surely wouldn't know. "Up close" is not a phrase I'd use to describe our seats. :) I was watching Pat and Vanna on the jumbo-tron screen. It felt very much like watching it on tv. :) After lots and lots of waiting, they finally seated the last of the audience and closed the doors. Charlie O'Donnell came out and talked to the audience. Warmed up the crowd a bit, using his legendary Wheel of Fortune voice. Side note: Sadly, in November 2010, Charlie passed away. :( The executive producer also came out and entertained questions and told us some tidbits about the show. They encouraged us to clap enthusiastically and smile lots and we might get on tv! Our section was less than thrilled with that idea. We could have clapped until our hands fell off and they wouldn't show us on tv. Bummer.
Finally the taping was beginning! They escorted all 17 contestants in to be seated, except for the three that were on the first show. They were on stage. The other 14 contestants were seated SEVERAL ROWS AHEAD OF US, with NOBODY in between. Let me make sure you understand this: There we are, the rebels, the threatening contestant guests...according to the powers that be, we're just waiting for an opportunity to signal our contestant with answers. In front of us are several empty rows. In front of the empty rows, they seated all the contestants! How much sense did that make?? Wouldn't you think they'd put us on opposite sides of the room or something? Nobody asked me my opinion, though...
The first show went by really quickly. We clapped, we cheered, we were excited. And then the 1st show was over. We had no idea which taping would be Scott's. At each break between tapings, Pat and Vanna would go change clothes and make it look like the next day. We were offered bathroom breaks at these 15 minute breaks. Before we knew it, the next show was beginning. Still no Scott on stage. We clapped and cheered some more. The taping for show #3 began and Scott wasn't in this show either. We enthusiastically enjoyed watching another episode taped. After this episode, however, there was a dinner break. We didn't have to be back in our "holding area seats"for another hour or so.
We walked a long way back to a food court-like area where each of us could pick whatever type of food we wanted. We ate a food and then began our long journey back to the taping area. Seriously, you can walk for MILES without ever stepping foot outside in Vegas. Upon returning to the taping area, we went through security again and returned to the contestant guest holding area seats. At this point we KNOW Scott's episode will either be the next one taped (4th), or the very last one of the day (5th). We were hoping he wasn't last! They seated us in the same area as before, several rows behind the contestants. When we were being seated, I was looking through all the contestants, looking for Scott, but I didn't see him. It took me a minute to realize he was ON STAGE! He was going on next! For the first three episodes, I was thinking "Okay, so this is what it will feel like when Scott is on stage." The excitement, the adrenaline, etc. Wow was I wrong. When we saw him on Stage and saw his name on the used-letter/score board, my heart started RACING. I couldn't stop shaking. I was so nervous FOR him!! Gail and I both were nervous wrecks!
Pat came out and got the game started. First pop-up puzzle: SCOTT WINS IT!! Woohoo!! $1,000 and a quick win! Great way to start the game. By winning the first pop up, he won the right to introduce himself first. He was pretty nervous for this part, which you can tell if you watched the episode. :) The other two contestants are introduced as well, Richard and Austin. Richard is a teacher like Scott (instant bond!). Austin is an actress and fitness model (NOT an instant bond...). Second pop up puzzle: SCOTT WINS AGAIN!! Woohoo!! $2,000! Grand total of $3,000 now. Nikki said she relaxed after this point because at least Scott had won more than enough money to pay for the trip. :) I, however, was still super-duper nervous. But she's right, at least the trip was covered! Winning the second pop up puzzle won him the right to go first. His first spin of the wheel was a Bankrupt. BUMMER. He didn't win that puzzle, but made a good effort. The next puzzle he did win! As it turns out, that would be the last puzzle he won for the rest of the show. His grand total winnings: $8,100 cash and prizes. $1,000 of it was a gift card to gourmetfoodstore.com. You should go check out that website. There's a LOT of caviar. YUM. :) Richard went on to bonus land and Austin and Scott went backstage to sign their final paperwork. And just like that it was all over. That was the fastest 20+ minutes ever! During the 15 minute break between the 4th and 5th taping, we headed out. Scott was done. We wanted to hear all about his day! We walked the "miles" back to where the car was parked. We took one more picture with our spray-tanned contestant, with his Wheel name tag.
Again, please note the beautiful parking garage backdrop.
We drove back to our hotel, had a drink while Scott told us his story and then called it a night! We had to leave for the airport at the crack-o-dawn, so some sleep was in order. We flew from Vegas to Atlanta to Charlotte the next day, Sunday. Scott had a work-related conference in Charlotte, starting at 8am Monday morning. Poor guy did NOT get a lot of sleep for a while...
Scott's description of his day, in non-sentence form as it was told to me: 17 contestants met at the desk at 8am that day. Taping 5 shows, 3 contestants per show, 2 alternates. Walked us to the stage. Got to spin the wheel. Took us to fill out paperwork (tax documentation, legal mumbo jumbo). Talked to a legal guy about the legal mumbo jumbo paperwork. All the rules were explained. Were supposed to let them know if we could see anybody in the audience that we knew. Point them out and they would move the person out of view. All the potential prizes and types of puzzles and game play and strategies were explained. For example: They wanted to limit the number of words you were saying. Less "please" and "I'd like to buy a vowel. More "I'd like to buy an A." 2 people at a time were getting their makeup done at a time while they talked to us about legal stuff. Fed us lunch. Spaghetti. Tempting us to spill stuff on our clothes. After lunch and make-up, split into groups of 3 which the Wheel people had decided on. Then randomly chosen which taping, which position at the wheel. I was the 4th taping. Then we were taken in groups of 3 to tape our commercial that would air locally and the interview that was posted online. Got to play some practice games on stage with the wheel, a practice Pat and practice Vanna. Someone got to practice winning a car and practice spinning the bonus wheel. We went backstage and talked more while the audience was seated. They lead us out to our seats and they taped the 1st three shows. Couldn't talk to anybody. Needed permission and an escort to go to the bathroom. After the 3rd show, went backstage again. Had dinner. More spaghetti. Waited until the next taping. Went backstage for my taping. Was miked-up and led on stage. Given a 5 minute boot camp on spinning the wheel. Adjusted our height platforms we were each standing on. Tested our buzzers to make sure they worked for the pop up puzzles. Familiarized us with the used-letter board, which also shows each contestants' name and money they have won thus far. Taping flew by. Doesn't take much longer than 30-40 minutes to tape. 3-5minute breaks where commercials are. During each break, contestant coordinators gave us pep talks and brought us water. Told us if we needed to be louder. Retouched our makeup. Before we started again they would tell us what type of puzzle was coming up next. Earlier during the rules-portion of the explanations, they told us if we thought there was a mistake in the puzzle, not to bring it up during the taping, but to wait until a commercial break. I, too, thought it was "swimming along with tropical fish"and thought they had made a mistake. Right before Austin tried to solve it, i realized it was "among", not "along". Costly mistake for her! After it was over, took us back stage, took our microphones, filled out paperwork re: whether we wanted to keep all our prizes or decline them. Went back to our seats with the other contestants and watched Richard in the bonus round. After the taping was totally done, met back up with the family. What a day!
It certainly was a whirlwind of a trip. We were on the ground in Vegas less than 48 hours. Scott was treated like a king all day as a contestant. He was surprised to hear how we were treated as threats. :) If I had a chance to watch another taping of Wheel of Fortune, I would do it in a heartbeat. I just wouldn't recommend it if you KNOW any contestants!!
Thus concludes this NOVEL. :)
wait one more thing: if you missed the episode that aired Dec. 30, 2010, catch it on youtube: Scott's Wheel Episode.