Champion: Randy West!
Hello once again! Guys and gals...are you in for a grand treat!
With me in the "player's chair" is someone that is well known in the game show community, another very early Press champion. His shows came before the GSN run, (Shows #9-11) but he also made his mark on many other game shows, including the popular short-lived Hit Man. He set the standard for many other Press players to follow in his passing strategy, and provided one of the most exciting moments in the history of the show. It is, both, an honor and a privledge, to be able to interview Mr. Randy West. Another reason I am tickled pink about this, is because he is not only a veteran game player, but a great personality.
Jason D: Randy, what can I say? It's awesome that you would take just a few moments from your busy schedule to be interviewed about a show nearly two decades old. :-)
First off, tell us a little bit about yourself. (Well, stuff we may not know)
Randy West: I think my whole life is scattered
about pretty well on various portions of my website
http://www.tvrandywest.com ...except for the time I won the Nobel Peace Prize for curing prickly
=I Anyway...that was
a nice little plug there. Next, why did you try out for the
show? Or, did you even try out? How did that work out?
RW: I was on episodes #9, #10 and #11. The show
had never aired, and I had no idea about it. This appearance,
like several others for me, resulted from being called by
contestant coordinators who knew me from other shows or
run-throughs. There's a family of contestant casters who
maintain their own
files. Their reputations and employment are often based on their ability to find good people, quickly, with little or no advertising.
JD: Ahhh, so that's how it's done! Well, maybe not anymore... I know the show was barely starting out, but did you have any strategies, or anything to keep in mind?
RW: We were well briefed and rehearsed, so all of
the contestants I met on
those early episodes had a good working knowledge of the rules. I had become
pretty familiar with playing on game shows and had some general rituals that
had served me well. They included my exercise and eating during the 24
hours before a game that seemed to give me the clearest head. That, and
reserving my energy on the long tape days was on my mind.
But I didn't have any particular strategy coming
into PYL, except
remembering that the Whammy seemed to appear on an average of 1 in 6 spins.
I played the first two of my episodes relying on hunches about when a Whammy
might be "due" to appear. (Which worked PERFECTLY on one episode)
Several friends of mine at the time were in the audience on my first tape day.
One was a UCLA instructor / mensa member who later won his
own fair share of money on "Jeopardy!". After the first tape day he
mentioned that he thought he had spotted patterns to the board, but he was unable
to give me much in the way of specifics.
JD: Ahhh, so I guess the "Larsen patterns" were easy to notice on those first episodes, huh? :-) My next question, how was Peter Tomarken off-stage? (Also, is he REALLY only 5'5 or so?)
RW: On all game shows the contestants have little
interaction with the host outside of the play of the game.
That's intentional because of the standards and practices in
place to protect the integrity of the competition. Peter and my
paths have crossed a few times in recent years, and he's a very
likeable guy. As to his height, I only know he's shorter than I
am; I'm 6'0". You know what they say about hosts: it's not how
big it is, it's what they do with it ;-)
JD: Hah! You got that right...but size also does matter! ;-) Okay, (aside) Watch me segue out of this one! Um, let's just go to the next question before I really turn red... How were you treated by the contestant coordinators, and everyone at CBS?
RW: Marvelously! The mood around game shows is
always energetic and fun for the contestants.
JD: You got that right...I've seen your work at the NBC Studios. :-) For my next question, were your shows taped in one day? Also, how was the whole day like over there?
RW: Those were the good old days when 5 shows
were taped in a day; some shows are now doing 6 or even 7! Tape
days are always long days on any show, but good contestant
coordinators keep the fun factor high; there were some great
staffers at PYL... I had the benefit of returning on a second
for my third episode. That gave me a chance to be a little fresher for that last show.
JD: That's great to hear...although I bet you had butterflies that night. :-) What other game shows have you been on? (I could think of a couple, but I'm sure there are countless others you have been on)
RW: I competed on 9 shows that were broadcast nationally, and played a contestant on a number of pilots. Those shows were Press Your Luck (of course), Hit Man, All Star Blitz, To Tell the Truth, Face the Music, What's My Line?, and a few others. :-)
JD: Whoohoo! Hit Man! You've certainly been around a lot! Now....*audience ooohs* Oh, get your minds out of the gutter! :-P *laughter* As I was saying, Press Your Luck was barely getting off the ground, and some things weren't still all together. Was there any significant problems during the tapings? (Besides maybe some screens blowing)
RW: I don't recall any problems. I've since learned that the CBS electronics shop was at its top form in those days. And when it comes to taping game shows, CBS TV City has always done it smoother than anyone else.
JD: I would have to definitely agree with you there, do I capture Daisy Fuentes on that square? No? Okay... Do you remember any of the other contestants well? Did you talk with them after the show?
RW: I had done runthroughs for other shows with
one of the other contestants; she was also a "regular". We used
to see each other now and then, and of course we talked that
day. I remember vividly that the attorney who looked like he
would win the game on the second day wouldn't talk to me or
shake my hand, at first, after I won in a dramatic victory on
the last spin!
JD: Ah, the attorney! We will go back on that dramatic spin a little later. Before we do, I know you have been on TV before, but how did you feel going into your first episode?
RW: Adrenaline pumping and ready to kick ass! :-D
JD: Yeah, baby! After winning your first episode....what was going through your mind?
RW: "This is cool, even if this is all I win". But there wasn't much time to think about it. As soon as the first episode was taped I was rushed through a wardrobe change to start the next show.
JD: Well, that sounds just fascinating! Okay,
the director is slashing his throat...Oh! I guess that means
we are ready for a commercial break. Everybody, stay tuned
because when we come back, Randy and I will talk about that
miraculous comeback. You don't want to miss it. :-)
JD: Welcome back to the interview! What a treat today! Randy West is here talking about the whammy and Press Your Luck. Allright...let's go back to that dramatic last spin of your second episode...behind by a lot, over $4,000...and you get a passed spin. That was a BIG deficit, did you think you even had a chance?
RW: I was ready to pack up and leave! But I have always been pretty lucky. The "mojo" was workin'!
JD: ...and then when you pulled off the miracle victory, how did you feel? (I saw how you LOOKED, but how did you feel?)
RW: I remember that episode as the most exciting.
I was MORE than $4,000 behind and had the last spin of the show
passed to me. There seemed to be no way to make over that much
on that one last spin of the whole game (unless it is with a
spin), and the feeling among the players was that a whammy was
coming; that's why the spin was passed to me in the first
place! I thought it was all over...
Well, I hit that plunger actually trying to time a landing on "Big Bucks + 1 spin" as it was the most likely to keep me alive. I was staring at that spot as the board stopped, and for a moment I couldn't find the square that was actually lit. When I DID find it, it was a graphic. So it took another step of realization to understand it was a car, and yet another moment to understand that the car was valued at over $5,000, and that it had given me the win! An amazing few seconds that I didn't really fully digest until much later.
JD: Well, how 'bout that? THAT is a true comeback, right there. Tell us about your last episode, anything special happen there, or noteworthy?
RW: I knew the rule in effect at the time that
the day you hit or exceeded $25,000 in winning was your last
day. Once I realized that I had won, I was quickly trying to do
the math to convince myself that I was still under $25,000. I
thought I was, but in reality my winnings totalled $25,920.95
($25,742 on the show); I would have loved to have had the chance
to return that extra money and stay for
JD: Hah! Sorry, you can't do that on this show! With all the money you ended up winning, what did you do with the cash and prizes?
RW: At first, the cash hit the bank; I had a good paying job at the time. I had one of the best weeks of my life on that trip to Puerto Vallarta. I later took some of the cash and added it to the value of the Nissan Sentra that I'd won. I left the dealership with a top of the line Maxima that I drove proudly for years.
JD: ...and that, my friend, was a wise investment! With your numerous game show appearances, were you ever recognized from being on TV so much? Anyone stop you on the street and say congrats?
RW: I don't remember that happening at all outside of the game show community.
JD: Is that so? Somehow, that seems unlikely,
but we'll move on and wrap this bad boy up. What impact did
PYL, in particular, have on you? Did the money help out a lot?
RW: It further solidified my love for game shows. I knew I had to find more shows to appear on as a contestant, and had to stay dedicated to breaking through into working in the business.
JD: It looks like it all paid off, to many of us, including myself! Have you ever looked back at your PYL episodes to watch them for fun...or idle curiosity? :-)
RW: One of my episodes aired on my birthday, and
I threw a huge party with a couple of dozen guests the following
weekend. I brought in a giant screen TV and screened the 3
episodes for most of my friends who were unable to watch because
of their work. On two separate occasions years later I showed
them to girlfriends I was dating at the time. I haven't watched them in years now, but know just where those tapes are at all times!
JD: That's great for you! By the way, I might want to see that third episode. :-) Finally, before we run out of time, any other comments about the show or anything? Any last thoughts?
RW: There are a million "small world" stories
about game shows, PYL included. I see one of the staffers from
time to time because she works at an LA casting facility for
voiceover performers. I worked with PYL contestant coordinator,
Bobby Edwards on other shows. I spent a couple of years in the
industry doing record promotion, and was involved with an album from one of the staffers at PYL - Sue Saad sang lead in a punk rock group, Sue Saad and the Next. But the best "small world" coincidence is that I'm working with the set designer from PYL (and a zillion other great shows), Ed Flesh, on
"Supermarket Sweep" right now!
JD: No kidding? This really is a small world, after all! Randy, I want to give all my thanks for making this interview possible, and good luck on your growing game show career!
RW: Thanks a lot!
JD: Well, I am spent, and that concludes the fifth installment of interviews. Thanks to Randy West for taking time off for this interview. I am sure all of you will enjoy this one! Join us next time!
This is Jason Hernandez signing off saying
thanks for Pressing Your Luck. Bye bye.
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