Saturday, January 14, 2017

What Might've Been: The Celebrity Game (1964)

Many say that Heatter-Quigley's 1964 entry for CBS, The Celebrity Game, was a forerunner to the much more successful Hollywood Squares, which launched on NBC two years later. However, Celebrity was actually the second step in an evolution of what would become Squares.

In 1963, H-Q had sold People Will Talk, a daytime game show, to NBC, with Dennis James as host. There were 15 celebrities on the panel for that short-lived series, way too many by today's standards, so after People was cancelled, H-Q went back to the drawing board.

The basic concept of Celebrity Game had three contestants trying to read the minds of nine stars on simple Yes or No questions posed by host Carl Reiner (The Dick Van Dyke Show). Unfortunately, this didn't last very long, either.

Let's take a look at an episode from June 1964. The panel includes Mickey Rooney, Louis Nye, Lee Marvin, and Connie Stevens.

Rival Goodson-Todman would co-opt the Yes/No line of questioning for a short lived 1979 daytime game, Mindreaders (previously reviewed), which landed at NBC. Seemed as though the contestants were getting almost as many laughs as the panel.

Rating: B.


Mike Doran said...

The People Will Talk panel of 15 weren't all celebrities - usually no more than one (maybe two) per episode.
On PWT, the question would serve as basis for a Pro Vs. Con "debate" between two contestants that would be voted on by the 15 panelists.
Whichever player got the most panelists to agree with him would win that day's game and go to an aftergame, where he'd try to get most of the panel to agree with him on a different topic.
This format was a touch unwieldy for a daytime game, and Heatter-Quigley hauled it back to the shop, while NBC hauled out its replacement: Let's Make A Deal.

hobbyfan said...

Thanks for the clarification. Should've noted that this was also another co-production with Four Star, same as Shenanigans and PDQ.