Stepped back in time Tuesday to visit the tiny, garishly decorated studio where “The Price is Right” has been running nearly 40 years.
On a visit organized for the TV Critics press tour, we were whisked inside, affixed with big pricetag/nametags, and set amid the 1950s and the gaily colored curtains, sparkles and flashing lights of “The Price is Right” set.
It’s known as the Bob Barker Theater, but Studio 33 has a rich showbiz history dating back to the beginnings of TV itself: Jack Benny, Danny Kaye, the Smothers Brothers, Sonny & Cher and Carol Burnett all shot here. A colleague went wandering in search of ancient swatches of curtains with CBS eye logo patterns.
It’s amazing to think of the studio as being shot in HD, since it’s not exactly tattered and worn, but certainly well used. The purple carpet in one corner has felt the feet of hundreds of contestants jumping.
It’s a much smaller studio than one expects, as most TV studios are. But it feels especially compressed that the stations for bidders so exuberantly selected to play, is a modest row of microphones along the first row of seats.
My mother would have had a heyday here. Bob Barker was our TV god growing up, going back to “Truth or Consequences.” When I invited her to a arena road show version of “Price is Right” back in the 80s, she embarrassed me by chasing after him with a boater she called a barker’s hat (Barker and that famed pompadour was having none of it).
The glitter and corniness of the studio was the kind of thing she’d thrive. The bedroom of the lifelong contester was in similar tones of orange, pinks and yellows. Sure, she’d want to play Plinko, Hi Lo and the Showcase Showdown, but to be here among the lights, with big IDs for names, hearing that corny theme music and hearing that announcer’s voice.
They allowed people up to spin the big wheel, which is heavier than it seems, and impossible on one spin to figure how to get to one revolution to 100. Alas, I could only get it to 75.
I felt kind of bad about the people first in line outside, a family from Southwest Missouri, who had been waiting eight hours so far to get inside. But they had a chance to win a car.