Posted: May 9, 2011 4:41 PM by Sarah Rosario
Updated: May 9, 2011 7:46 PM
BATON ROUGE - Wheel of Fortune is known as America's number-one game show, and now News 2's Sarah Rosario finds out unknown secrets about the show and what goes on behind the scenes in the first of a three part series "Secrets Revealed: Wheel of Fortune".
Hundreds of people packed into the New Orleans Convention Center about a month ago to be in the audience for the filming of "College Week" on Wheel of Fortune. While the audience got to see the lights, cameras, and even Pat and Vanna, for many others it's a lot of work.
Executive Producer Harry Friedman said 160 people from Los Angeles were brought in and more than 200 locals in New Orleans were hired to put the show together. Friedman said the crew arrived in the city nearly two weeks in advance to prepare. The filming for a month full of shows took place in four days, with six shows per day. That's right, those are the only four days Pat and Vanna work each month, and they say they love their schedules.
While Pat and Vanna may only work four nights a month, everyone else on the show has a regular eight-hours-a-day weekly schedule. There's even a puzzle team whose sole purpose is to come up with ideas to put on the puzzle board.
Friedman said despite all the hard work, the game itself is pretty easy.
"It's really at its heart a simple game; spin the wheel, call a letter and win cash and prizes," he said.
What's hard is finding qualified contestants. More than 10,000 people try out each year, less than 600 get on the show. Friedman said the secret to getting on the show is being genuinely enthusiastic, outgoing, and a good puzzle solver.
For College Week, LSU sophomore James Lowder, 19, was one of 15 students who made the cut. Lowder was selected in New Orleans but first auditioned at the LSU student Union Theater when the Wheelmobile came to LSU in November, 2010. James said that was his fourth time trying out, and told News 2 what he had to do to get picked.
"We had to tell a little bit about ourselves, we had to try to solve a puzzle, call out letters and stuff to get enthusiasm," said Lowder.
Friedman said the best puzzle solvers are people who are avid readers and crossword puzzle players, because they know how letters and words look to the eye. In addition to the puzzle team Friedman comes up with a lot of the puzzles, and so do Pat and Vanna.
"It's a full time job, we never take a hiatus really. We're out of the studio for a period but we're always preparing for the following season," said Friedman.
Now that you know some of what happens behind the scenes, you'll have to watch Wheel of Fortune at 6:30 on WBRZ to find out the winning contestants of College Week.