Interview with Champion: Tony Filosa
Well, here we are again!
Another great PYL interview for all of you to take a gander at.
Today is interview number four, with a very early Press
champion. A lot of you won't recognize him since his episodes
did not air on Game Show Network. In fact, his shows came before
the GSN run. (Shows #39-42)
However, as of this year,
GSN has finally decided to pick up those early episodes, so
now a new generation of Press Your Luck fans will be
able to recognize our next interviewee!
He became one of the big money winners of
that year, behind David--who won over $35k--, and Helen Riener,
who won over $40,000 in December. I am very excited about this
interview because this is my first interview with someone whose
episodes go beyond the GSN run (at the time),
and because he is one of the BIG early champions early on in the
show. (His episodes aired November 10-15, 1983) Also, he
provided us with some funny quotes, like:
"I can buy a hamburger now!" --In response to winning $24k
"I feel real bad about that, Peter!" --Responding when Peter said Tony broke the limit by a lot.
Jason D: Tony, it is more than a pleasure to be interviewing you, I am very excited about this!
Tony Filosa: Thanks, I am still am somewhat surprised that there is so much interest in a show that is nearly twenty years old!
JD: Of course there is still a great interest in the whammy. After all, the show IS airing on the Game Show Network. :-) Now then, tell us a little bit about yourself.
TF: I am currently retired from the Los Angeles Supreme Bench, where I was working for twelve years. Basically, I was a judge in the courts down there. Right now, I am still working part-time for the city in the juvenile courts. You know, all the cases against the young kids. I am living in Los Angeles with my wife, and just enjoying life.
JD: Hey, that sounds great! For my next question, why did you try out for the show?
TF: To tell the truth, someone I knew was on the show previously, and told me that I should try out, so I did. I tried out in late Summer or early Autumn of 1983. It was basically a test where I had to answer a bunch of knowledge questions, and if you got a certain number of questions right, you passed and were eligible to play the mock version of the game (if they called you back). After all of that, I got a call a few weeks later, took another test. Soon after that, I was called to be on the actual show! Everything was filmed the same day. I got on the show in the early afternoon, and ended right around 7pm. As I recall, I got there before 8am, and had to stay for the whole day. It was pretty exhausting, but I was excited by day's end.
JD: Wow, what a tiring schedule. I can imagine how tiring that can be staying there for more than twelve hours. Being in the audience for one of those shows is extremely tiring.
TF: No kidding? What shows have you seen that lasted for a while?
JD: Well, Family Feud goes by quickly, as does Jeopardy. Pyramid goes pretty slow, but the longest one had to be at The Price is Right in Las Vegas. Speaking of other shows, did you appear on any other game shows?
TF: No, but the company had another show where they were trying to call back people who had won on PYL. I mean, what better to use than returning champs!
JD: You're right about that! That also explains how some people appeared on the show, and then another so quickly. Anyway, back to PYL...Since you had to stay in the studio for so long, how did the contestant coordinators treat you?
TF: They were very nice. We didn't stay in the
studio the whole time, actually. We had a one-hour lunch break
in the afternoon, and we were treated nicely by all the CBS
I also remembered that they wanted me to be a little more enthusiastic. For instance, they wanted me to clap more in my shows. I was a little too serious in the first show, but I got better as they reminded to show some energy. Not that I wasn't happy, but I was a little shocked after the first episode. Also, it isn't really my character to be overly bubbly and excited like some of those other contestants you see.
JD: Well, you seemed to have some nice energy
in your last two episodes. :-) By the way, I also love
watching "Young and the Restless." It is one of my guilty
pleasures. OH! Anyway...
How was Peter Tomarken?
TF: Oh, Peter is a wonderful man. He was very
courteous to us, and nice to me during my episodes. As a matter
of fact, a friend of mine knew him pretty well. He was a Beverly
Hills kid, and dressed very well, you know?
Heh. Ironically, I ran into him at a store about a month after the shows had taped. He remembered me, and we chatted for a little bit. It was a nice experience to get to meet him, and actually talk to him for a while!
JD: Wow, how exciting is that? I wish I could meet Peter Tomarken like that in a store or a market. :-) Now, on to the show itself. What kind of strategies did you have during the show? I noticed that you used what I call, "speed-buzzing."
TF: My strategy was to hit the buzzer as fast as possible, because I felt that if I stopped the board right away, then there would be less whammies. If I saw a lot of whammies on the board, then I would stop right after they all disappeared. Also, don't get greedy! I saw a couple people keep going with a lot of money, and they ended up hitting a whammy and losing it all, and ultimately the game.
JD: You're right about that! It seems that a
few people had the strategy of waiting until there were no
whammies on the board, and stopping it right away. Also, that
"greed factor" really does kick in! After all, as the Sherlock
Holmes Whammy states, "Elementary, my dear Fang. It was
GREED...that got it." Well, I have to ask this right now. You
mentioned to me before that something happened that involved a
broken buzzer. You want to tell us about it? :-)
TF: Well, it was during the last round of a good game. On the end of the first show, I hit the damn thing so hard that the buzzer came off, and they had to stop the game right in the middle of the round! It took them over half an hour in order for them to fix the buzzer, and to get back in the game. Finally, the game ended, and I ended up winning that game anyway.
JD: Wow, what a nice break for you! Speaking of breaks, let's pause for one moment to make sure all the buzzers are in place, and great a drink of water, and we'll be right back! :-D
JD: We are back with our very special guest, Tony Filosa. Again, thanks for doing this! Now, on to my next set of questions, as you piled up the money, what was going through your head?
TF: Basically, I was quite stunned for a while. I
was thinking that I came in with nothing, and I knew that I
could probably keep on winning. Of course, when I was racking up
the dough, I also had that fear that the whammy would take it
JD: Now, you might not know this, but you broke a FOUR DAY record, and it was the highest 4-day total at the time. You also set a then-record by winning four shows in a row. Were you aware you might break a record?
TF: Even when I kept on going, I had no idea about records or stuff like that. I wasn't even aware of the money winning total record until you just told me right now!
JD: Oh! That is a surprise!
TF: It was quite a surprise! I was aware of the four-day thing AFTER the fact. When Peter told me that I broke a record by winning four games in a row, I was very excited and happy to win all that money. I remember if I had hit the $25,000 limit on my third show, I would not have won all that more. As I recall, I came less than a thousand bucks away from the limit, so I got very lucky on that!
JD: Yeah! You actually came about $900 away. Anyway, on your last show, when you had that BIG LEAD in round one, did you know, or have a feeling, that you were going to win?
TF: You never go into a game show thinking that you are going to win every single time, because if you do and don't end up winning, then you might feel let down. At that point, I still had that fear that I might hit a whammy...so not one point during those games did I have a feeling that I would win. If I passed it, and then my opponent got an extra spin, I could have been passed back of that spin, and whammy.
JD: Well, you make a good point there. Nobody should go into any TV taping (even if your name is Michael Larson) thinking that they are going to win for sure. On to my next question, what did you end up doing with all of your cash winnings?
TF: I ended up paying nearly half of the winnings on taxes. Part of it was the state tax, and the rest of it went to paying taxes for all the prizes I won.
JD: Heh, speaking of prizes...you won an Odyssey. Now, for many of us--including myself--who don't know, what IS that?
TF: It was basically a three-wheeling desert vehicle that I sold soon after I got it. Heh! Also, I had won a trip somewhere far from here, and I converted that trip to an European Tour for me and my family. I had also won a trip to New York. As for the rest of my money winnings, I spent a lot of it with my boys! I thought it was great to share some of the winnings with them. I also made a down payment on a house that I still live in now. So, the show really helped me out with that. In fact, it was because of Press Your Luck that I got the house.
JD: Hey, that is a GREAT story! Now, Peter Tomarken seemed to remember you when you saw him, I guess. Were you recognized from you Press appearances? Also, what impact did the show have on you?
TF: I was never recognized from the show, except for some family members. Outside of people who knew me, nobody recognized me. Also, the show didn't have too much impact besides the down payment on the house, and talking about it with people. Also, it gave me a great personal experience just to be there. It really was a lot of fun.
JD: I'm glad to hear it! Incidentally, do you realize you were one of the biggest money winners in that first season, right up there in PYL history?
TF: I had no idea that I was one of the top scorers in the show's young history. I knew I had won a lot of money, but I didn't think it was THAT high! That's great to hear.
JD: Have you ever looked back on your episodes just for the fun of it?
TF: Yeah, I look back on them every once in a while just for fun. I also use them to correct people who don't believe me when I tell the story about my 4 days on Press Your Luck. *chuckles* They all get a kick out of it.
JD: Hehe, Tony, thanks so much for doing this, and it was a huge pleasure to do this! Tony, good luck with your part-time work!
TF: Thanks, Jason. It was my pleasure. Glad to do it.
JD: Well, folks...that concludes this interview for today. Thanks to Tony Filosa for making this a good one, and I would like to take the opportunity right now to thank everyone who has taken part in the interviews for this site. It is a lot of fun, and I hope everyone reading them has thoroughly enjoyed them as much as I enjoyed interviewing these former contestants.
This is Jason Hernandez signing off saying thanks for Pressing Your Luck. Bye bye.
**Special thanks to Tony's wife, Bernie, for providing a little
help along the way. :-)
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