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On 20 August 2007, yours truly, Mr. City, had the opportunity to conduct an interview with the real Brian Dunnett by email. Read about his experiences on the show, his take on its present and future, and especially about his life since his 1992 appearance!

SW: Do you still have any of the prizes you won?

I sold the computer and the fireplace. The desk & chair actually make for a nice piece in my parent’s living room.

It was a little bit hard selling the computer and the fireplace. By the time I actually got the computer, the next generation was already out and nobody was really interested in it. As for the fireplace, it was kind of hard to sell, but as my parents live near Tahoe where there are a lot of cabins, there was enough interest.

SW: What are your thoughts about Drew Carey hosting TPIR?

I think that it’s a good choice. I don’t really know too much about him, but he seems to have a good personality and he is good at improvising which can add a humoristic touch to the show. That should be fun. However, I don’t really seem him as the “huggable” / “kissable” person. Everyone wanted to hug or kiss Bob, but I’m not sure that will happen with Drew...we’ll have to see. I do have to say that I’m not completely convinced of Drew’s motivation for hosting the show: he didn’t actively seek to be the host and from what I heard, he had to be talked into it. I would have been much more reassured had he been interested in the position from the beginning. In any case, I wish him the best and I hope that he can keep up the show’s popularity and ratings so that we can all continue to enjoy the show!

SW: It's a moot point by now, but who else do you think might have been a good choice to hold that skinny mic?

I seriously didn’t have anyone in mind. At one point, I thought it would be an interesting idea to run the show using guest hosts. Each guest host would do the show for one week and then pass it on to the next. It could have been cool to see various stars / personalities do the show. It could keep the show very dynamic, but I don’t think it would work. The production company would probably need a larger budget to do so, but more importantly, I think TPIR fans like stability and they really need to identify as closely as possible with someone who can personalize the show (like Bob did so well). Also, I really think that hosting the show is much more difficult than it looks. With all of the different segments of the show, all the different games, the transitions, the contestants, it must be difficult to manage it all. To do so takes a lot of experience and it would be hard for a “temp” guest to pull it off.

SW: Did Bob say anything funny during the commercial breaks that you can still remember 15 years later?

I’ve seen about 10 tapings of TPIR and Bob always had something funny to say during the breaks. Most of what he says is replies to questions from the audience. As people always ask the same questions, his answers were pretty much always the same. He would often comment about how the contestant played his game (either good or bad). He wouldn’t hesitate to make fun of a contestant if he played poorly. He would also make fun of those contestants in contestant’s row who had a hard time making it up on stage.

SW: When I attended the show on 3/19/2007, I arrived outside the gate 21 hours before taping. That, however, was good enough for Priority #1. What time did you have to get to the studio to get your seat? What priority number were you?

Wow! That was a long time waiting!

On the day I was picked, I came with a group from UCSD, and since we were a group, we had guaranteed entrance as long as we were there by a certain time (I believe it was around 11:30 for the afternoon show).

That was the only time I went with a group. For other times it would vary. Most of the time I would leave San Diego at around 4am to be in line by 7am. Once I stayed in a cheep hotel (I don’t recommend it) across the street that I nicknamed “The Price is Right Motel”. The last time I went, in April 2007, I stayed at a hotel in West Hollywood which is very convenient. We had tickets for both the 1st and 2nd show. We were in line by 8am and there was no more room for the 1st show and we were standby for the 2nd show. Luckily we just made it through. And that was BEFORE Bob’s announcement that he was going to retire.

SW: How long had you been a Price fan prior to attending the taping?

I have been a TPIR fan since the beginning. TPIR (with Bob) started beginning September 1972 and I was born at the end of September 1972. I remember as a kid watching the show. I think what got me into it was the bright lights and flashy colors. I also liked the music and the crazy contestants. When in elementary school, junior high and high school, I didn’t get a chance to watch it unless I was home sick. I definitely remember that even though I didn’t enjoy the flu, knowing that I was going to be able to watch TPIR was enough to compensate.

It wasn’t until I was in college that I started taping the show (or even scheduling my classes around it). I knew that being in San Diego, I would have several chances to go. I needed to practice and I needed my friends to practice in case someone got called up on stage.

SW: Do you still watch the show as much now as you did then?

No. Now that I live in France, I don’t have any access to CBS. They don’t even put the episodes on their Innertube site. Even if they did, I would have to find a way to make Innertube think I’m connecting from within the US (it doesn’t allow foreign connections). Luckily, I can catch some glimpses on YouTube. For special shows, I have my sister tape them for me.

SW: Did the models say anything to you when you hugged them after winning Barker's Bargain Bar?

Yes. Janice was NOT happy. In fact, if you look closer at the tape, you can see that she fact she is in PAIN. She had recently had shoulder surgery...oops...sorry Janice.

As for when I did the ticket plug, I’m not sure Rod totally appreciated it. I saw that he was laughing, but when it was over, he kind of looked a bit irked. Not much, but you have to remember that the ticket plug was part of his star time.

SW: How did the set in real life compare to your perception of it from watching the show?

When I entered the studio for the first time, I was expecting so much more. I remembered laughing and thinking “This is it???”. I thought it looked small...this is because as a kid, I had the impression that there were four distinct “rooms” to the set: the big doors in one place, giant price tag in another, the big wheel (I never imagined that the big wheel was on rollers...) set apart and the turntable in yet another area. I was always intrigued how they made everything look like one. My imagination just wanted to separate everything. So it was very funny for me to see everything crammed into one area.

I totally agree that the set looks very tacky in real life, but much better on TV.

I was amazed by the archaic “light box” that they use at the beginning of the show which makes a border of flashing lights as the camera pans the audience and the TPIR logo that goes from small to large. They don’t use the “light box” anymore, but they just use the clip from it.

I had always wondered if the big doors were controlled electrically (by somebody in the control room pushing a button to open or close them) or’s done manually.

Finally, I was impressed by the level of noise in the studio and on stage. In the audience, it’s hard to hear the music and what Bob and the contestant are saying. You can hear better on stage, but the noise level is very high.

I have to add that there is a whole ambiance surrounding the studio. Everything about going to TPIR (the wait in line, the studio, the props, the people, the cameras, the tacky colors, etc.) create a totally surrealistic situation. It’s like you’ve seen it, but you haven’t. It’s like you know it’s real, but it isn’t, but yes it is...It’s a total play on your mind. When Rod was the announcer, they would play this fast, upbeat swing jazz music just before Rod would come out and talk to us and get us hyped up. He did a magnificent job at this and he was able to get you into that surrealistic place so that you would forget everything else and be totally caught up in the moment. I think that helps explain how a lot of the contestants (like me) seem over-excited.

SW: Did you get any other memorabilia from the show while you were there?

Yes. I got a large piece of white cardboard paper with my name written in black capital letters. This is what they use to help the audience members to know if they have been called to “Come on Down” as one of the first four contestants. There are two people (one on each corner of the stage) who hold up the sign as the names are read (they are not visible on camera). This is very necessary since the noise level and craziness is so out of control. When the show was over and when I was signing my papers to accept the prizes, I asked if I could have it and they said no problem.

SW: How'd your interview go? What did you say to the producer?

My interview was very short...just like most of the interviews. I remember saying something like “Hi, I’m Brian. I come from a small town called Folsom which is know for its prison and for the song sang by Johnny Cash, but now I’m a student in San Diego and I brought this group with me”. It was my 3rd or 4th time to the show and I think that the producer remembered seeing me before.

SW: Were you expecting Bob to allow you to explain the Showcase Showdown? Did you get nervous doing all the explanations throughout the show (which you did tremendously, by the way)?

I thought that there might be a chance that he would let me explain the Showcase, but I also knew that Bob likes to stay in control of the show and in center stage as much as possible. I was ready for it, but not totally sure that it would happen. Yes, it was very nervous during the explanations, but I was having fun doing it. I have to say that at this point of the show I was exhausted. It really takes a lot out of you being on stage. I know that sounds hard to believe, but when you get up early in the morning, wait in line for a long time, have your dream come true, know that you are going to be on national TV for the first time, really does take a lot out of you. I remember after making my bid on the Showcase, there was a wait time of about 10 minutes and I laid down on the stairs of the Turntable and almost went to sleep!

SW: During your pricing game, Bob dwelled on the fact that you didn't know what someone studying International Relations does. What does someone in International Relations do (especially as it pertains to Economics, the major you mentioned), and what are you doing now?

Actually, I don’t think that International Relations really exists. Maybe it does for politics, but not really for economics. International Business exists and that’s what I do today. I used my economics degree to study Business in France. That degree led me to my first job in France which was working for an international French bank where I was in charge of selling euro treasury solutions to banks in Europe, Asia the US and Canada. I still live in France (in Paris) and I now work for an asset management company in a large financial group as head of marketing for institutional business.

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Page created 8-31-2007