The Wheel of Fortune experience as told by Oren Goodman:
We arrived at Sony Studios at 5:30 a.m. The gate wasn’t open, so we parked across the street and waited until it opened at 6. Most contestants had also arrived early and parked across the street as well. We drove in and were directed to the parking garage. Waiting for us by the elevator were the contestant producer and his assistants. We were taken up to the studio, where they were still putting the final touches on the family week set. We were seated in the audience area, which is basically a loft above the set. We were given paperwork to fill out, and a man from Promotional Consideration, the company that pays contestant winnings, talked to us about legal issues while we filled out a disclosure form.
After that, we were led down to the set, where it was time to practice spinning the wheel. Although it looks effortless on TV, the wheel is actually quite heavy and has to be spun with a very specific technique. We were then taken a special waiting room below the studio, where there were refreshments. We had makeup applied, and contestants were assigned to their shows. We were picked to be in the third show. We chatted with the other contestants, who were very friendly, and excited just for the chance to play. Vanna White stopped by and wished everybody good luck. We watched two shows, and then finally it was our turn. I’d wanted to be on Wheel Of Fortune since I was 5 years old, and now was the big moment!
The show starts out with a tossup puzzle, and I rang in as soon as I knew the answer, without any hesitation or second-guessing. For solving the tossup, we were given the first spin, but we guessed an incorrect letter.
The two brothers to our right took their spin, but lost their turn. The two sisters to our left spun the wheel and guessed correct letters. After about four letters I pretty much knew the answer, but the sisters were full of luck and kept guessing correct letters and not landing on “miss a turn” or “bankrupt.” It was frustrating to stand there, knowing you have the correct answer, but it isn’t yet your turn! Luck wasn’t always on our side for the game, but I got every tossup puzzle and we solved one puzzle. I won’t give away how the show turns out, but everyone had a good time, and everyone got a prize they could use.
The Wheel of Fortune experience as told by Deanne Goodman:
Unlike Oren, who watches Wheel of Fortune on a regular basis, I’m not sure I’ve ever sat through a full episode. We had for the show a year ago but never heard back. When we got the call to be on Family Week and tape in seven days, I started studying like a college student cramming for an exam. I played online, on my phone and along with the TV. Within a week, I wasn’t that bad.
The drive up to Los Angeles with Oren was interesting. He sat in silence thinking about letters and words. Since he didn’t want to talk, I listened to music and thought how awesome it was that no matter what, we’d win $1,000 each for competing, and I hoped they would approve the dress I’d chosen to wear that morning.
When we got there, I immediately scoped out the competition. With Oren as my teammate I felt pretty confident. He was good at the tossups and I was good at some of the puzzle-solving.
Before the show we practiced spinning the wheel, yelling out letters, and saying our names really loud. Piece of cake. Then we got our makeup done. My makeup artist happened to be the one who does Pat Sajak, Vanna White and Alex Trebek’s makeup. She airbrushed foundation on me and gave me a mini makeover. Too bad Vanna White’s hairstylist wasn’t there to do my hair too.
Finally we were taken to the set for our taping. That half hour goes fast! Pat told us off-camera, “It’s way easier at home because it’s always your turn, and you never get ‘lose a turn’ or ‘bankrupt.’ ” He’s right, it's way easier at home. Oren and I made the dumbest mistake ever buying a vowel that had already been called and wasn’t on the board. At home I would have yelled at the contestant on TV, “How could you be so stupid?” In the studio, however, it’s easy to make that mistake under pressure. Still, Oren and I both agree, we’ll cringe when that part airs.
In the end we did well, but not the best we could have done. Oren rocked the tossups; even Pat Sajak was impressed with his skills.
It was a great experience. I have no complaints about the winnings I’m getting from Wheel of Fortune, and I'm looking forward to watching the show at 7 p.m. on NBC (Channel 7) Wednesday, Sept. 21. Check your local listings, though, to make sure you have the right time/channel.
Wheel of Fortune has a little video clip with us in it on the website right now. Click here to watch it.