Long-run­ning ’Fam­ily Feud’ gets a lift from changes

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - Tv Listings - BY LYNN ELBER

LOS AN­GE­LES — “Fam­ily Feud” and host John O’Hur­ley have upped the ante in the game show’s new sea­son, with a faster-paced open­ing, a new look and new prizes.

But the sour econ­omy has also boosted in­ter­est in the syndicated se­ries as it marks its 30th an­niver­sary, said ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Gaby Johnston.

At packed try­outs held re­cently in five U.S. cities, fam­i­lies were can­did about their need for help with mortgages, col­lege and Christ­mas ex­penses and more, even in front of a crowd of other would-be con­tes­tants, she said.

“ They weren’t afraid to tell me. And ev­ery­body start­ing clap­ping when they said that,” Johnston re­called, adding that the rooms were filled. In Phoenix, for ex­am­ple, more than 1,500 peo­ple were on hand.

They said po­ten­tial win­nings — in­clud­ing the car that’s been added as a prize — would be wel­come, Johnston said. Some peo­ple talked about be­ing job­less.

In the new, fast­paced “ bull’s-eye round” that opens the show, con­tes­tants have a chance to bank up to $30,000 be­fore the main round of play be­gins. Those who win the fast-- money round at the show’s con­clu­sion can keep the banked cash.

O the r changes in­clude a set makeover and video pro­files of the com­pet­ing fam­i­lies, in­tended to make view­ers feel more in­vested in the con­tes­tants, ac­cord­ing to the show. A new Wii ver­sion of the game was just re­leased.

The re­vi­sions are a re­sponse to the game’s longevity and al­tered au­di­ence habits, Johnston said. “Fam­ily Feud” asks com­pet­ing fam­i­lies to iden­tify how the pub­lic re­sponded to sur­vey ques­tions.

“ We used to go 10 min­utes be­fore the first ques­tion was read. Now you’ve got to go (into the con­test) within a minute. View­ers change the chan­nel so fast,” she said.

But the for­mat is essen- tially in­tact, she added: “ The au­di­ence loves fa­mil­iar­ity. If we went too far, peo­ple we would think we robbed them.”

O’Hur­ley, in his fourth sea­son as host, wel­comed the new el­e­ments.

“It im­me­di­ately in­fuses the show with an en­ergy we were never able to get to be­fore,” he said. “It’s a won­der­ful way to trig­ger fam­i­lies to a high-en­ergy ap­proach ... and it’s eas­ier for view­ers to get right into the game.”

O’Hur­ley

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