Behind the Scenes Look at “Family Feud” Thumbnail

Behind the Scenes Look at “Family Feud”

I live close to New York City, so the only shows I can do any on-set coverage for are Who Wants to be a Millionaire? or any show Michael Davies, my east coast game show savior, does.  Which is why we’ll be behind the scenes of The Newlywed Game in February.  When I went to Los Angeles around two weeks ago, I wanted to try to go behind the scenes of a show I normally couldn’t.  Luckily I got a chance to see one of my favorite game shows still around, Family Feud.  These were the last episodes of the season I got to see, so it was pretty exciting on set.  Everyone seemed to really put everything they could in for the final episodes airing in May.  Below the break is how the experience of seeing Family Feud live is as well as some pictures taken from the set.  Shockingly my cell phone takes really good pictures.

Family Feud was by far the smoothest set experience I’ve ever had.  I remember when I went to see Chain Reaction, which was an agonizing three hours to tape one 21 minute episode.  Feud taped six episodes in the course of around six or seven hours, including the breaks and lunch break.  It’s live to tape, so everything you see on camera happens on set, and it’s really a testament to how incredible the staff is.  Everyone is on the ball and doesn’t waste time.

Many of you may already know, but sets are a lot smaller in person than they are on television.  The same goes for Family Feud, but it’s incredibly impressive seeing it all first person; especially the big board.  I’m pretty tall (6’3”) and the board stood pretty well above my head.  That entire area was impressive.  It was just so refreshing and nice to see a set that’s brightly lit and happy.  Basically no moody darkness and blue anywhere, and that atmosphere carried to the audience who gets really involved.

   

The host, John O’Hurley, and announcer, Burton Richardson, are fantastic in person as well.  Burton does the warm-up and coaches the audience through the ways the show goes and how important the audience is.  The most amusing part is when I went to talk to him for a bit.  I told him I know him from a few shows, he asked which ones, and I said mainly from Russian Roulette.  Out of no where he broke into his creepy unbelievably deep voice and started talking; very entertaining.

I was most excited to meet John O’Hurley, though.  I’m a gigantic Seinfeld nerd, so knowing I was getting the chance to meet J. Peterman was the most thrilling thing this site has allowed me to do.  And John is seriously the nicest host I’ve ever talked to.  I know he was probably coached about who I am, but he was still incredibly warm and inviting.  He’s even funnier in person than on camera.  During breaks he takes questions from and talks to the audience, so that was neat.  I would have figured by now he’d be sick of people bringing up Seinfeld to him (I resisted somehow), but he talked about it enthusiastically.  I know I’ve said it before but meeting him in person and seeing how skilled he is on set cemented it for me: he’s easily the best Feud host of this current edition and, at least to me, since Richard Dawson.

Production wise, it runs as smoothly as any live to tape show does.  The only major stopdown came when contestants were singing answers to a question.  People weren’t sure if the songs were in the public domain so they rerecorded the answers with the contestant just saying the answers.  All the questions for each game are typed up and printed, with every single answer listed, whether it makes it on the board or not.  People are cautious about trusting things on television, but this was completely legit.  All the music is pumped onto the set too.  I’ve really started to embrace the classic theme played on the current set a lot more because of this experience.  I was iffy about it was first, but as the audience was walking onto the set they were singing and clapping along to the theme even before it started.  So I officially give in to that complaint that I originally had.  You all win, I like the classic theme on the current set.

   

Family Feud was easily the best set experience I’ve been through.  It was entertaining and exciting, the entire staff is unbelievably nice, production of the show is speedy and flawless, all of the on-air talent is top notch.  It really shows in the final product.  I’ve been a major fan of the current edition since John O’Hurley first joined three years ago, and it’s only gotten better each year.  The best news is that I’ve been told by several high-up staff members that the show will be coming back for an amazing 11th season in the Fall (obviously barring and major catastrophic event which will be remembered for ages), so I can’t wait to see what they have in store next year.

Author
Alex Davis

About the Author

has written 3437 articles on BuzzerBlog.

Alex Davis is an award winning writer and producer based out of Pittsburgh, PA, who works out of New York, Los Angeles, and London. Alex is the head writer and editor for BuzzerBlog and is the president and head of development of 5Hole Productions, specializing in unscripted formats for television and internet play.

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Discussion

12 responses to "Behind the Scenes Look at “Family Feud”"

  • insaneben says:

    Nice report, Alex.
    It’s always been my dream to visit a game show set (unfortunately, all the shows I’ve wanted to see live have long since been canceled, including Press Your Luck, Tic Tac Dough, High Rollers, Winning Lines, Whose Line Is It Anyway, H2 and The Joker’s Wild). Glad to hear the Family Feud set visit was a wonderful experience (and one of the few things FreMantle’s done right). I’m curious about Catch 21- maybe that should be your next set visit?

  • dropzone5 says:

    What a great report! Nice pics too!

    Did you say that people were singing the classic theme before walking in, and then they pumped in said theme afterward, or was I reading that wrong? And now I’m curious as to how big that board actually is…

    I would highly recommend Jeopardy! if you ever get a chance. Granted, I got the contestant treatment back in 2003, so I didn’t get much of a chance to do as much observing as you did at the Feud, but what little I did was actually quite thrilling (my status as a diehard J! fan notwithstanding).

  • Alex Davis says:

    I probably worded it weirdly. While coming into the set and sitting down, I easily heard audience members humming the iconic classic theme song, which is the current version uses as its theme song now, replacing the old party theme. And I just thought that was pretty cool and really probably a smart idea to switch to the old music if it’s that popular.

    The big board is basically just a projection screen. When the logo is on standby on the board, it’s a DVD. It was kinda funny to see the big DVD player logo and icons and stuff on the board. There are two projection screens in the back of the actual audience so the people sitting behind the board can see everything that goes on. The actual big board looks to be about 7 or 7.5 feet off the ground. Width, I don’t know, but it’s really big. It stunned me how big it was. The Millionaire set is cool to see in person, but puny compared to Feud.

    The absolute only thing that isn’t on set that you see on TV is the strike graphic. The strike noise pumps through, but the graphic isn’t there. Honestly, it’s a bit weird since they have a giant video board. It’s not like the old board where they really couldn’t get it up there. It’s as simple as adding a graphic and pressing a button to get it on there. But if that’s my biggest complaint about the production, that’s amazing. It’s really a top notch fantastic production. Can’t wait for season 11.

    We will be doing a lot more set reports next year. I know we’ll at least be doing Newlywed Game, probably Millionaire an Feud again, and most likely Jeopardy/Wheel of Fortune in mid 2009. Price is tricky, but I’m sure we can work something out.

  • ddele7 says:

    Hope you all had a wonderful christmas and a great 2009!

    Were any of the production staff on Feud to your knowledge, has been on the show in prior eras?

    You said they’re taping the last shows of the season. So are any of these shows Tournaments?

  • DeVares says:

    Great pictures considering it came from a cell phone (the pics on mine are very crappy). I wouldn’t mind sitting in the audience for a taping or two.

    I also know Burton Richardson from a lot of shows. But I best know him as saying “It’s Arsenioooooooooooooooooooooo Hall!” I never could do it as long as he did.

    I’m also happy that the show has (allegedly) been renewed for a Season 11 (sorry, Alex).

  • dropzone5 says:

    Wow, that is really awesome then. Interesting to hear how the board is a DVD…never knew that.

    So Burton hasn’t forgotten RR, eh? XD I’ll admit, when I first heard him there I thought “There’s no way that could be him.” But this was after hearing him announce Price, so…

    Anyway, can’t wait for season 11! And somebody remind me to go see the Feud if and when I can…

  • Jay says:

    Am I wrong, or aren’t some of the staff the same as older versions? For instance, I know that Richard Dawson’s son was on previous versions…and, what about Howard?

  • Josh says:

    Having been to a J! College Championship taping , I can say that the J! experience is a fun one and a smooth one as well. I actually brought a ball-point pen with me, and was clicking along with the contestants on stage. It was a lot of fun and worth the hike for me from My college to see it. I even got to ask Alex Trebek a question, as he took questions from the audience in the commercial breaks (Again, live to tape).

  • Jake says:

    It’s an impressive set, and I’ve liked it.. I just wish they’d make up their damn minds on the music. I have nothing against either set of music, it just bugs me that they’ve already switched back and forth so many times.

    Season 11 should be good. I’m really liking O’Hurley. Am I the only one that thinks he’d make a good talk-show host?

  • Jake says:

    Oh yeah.. for those with Firefox, right click > ‘view image’ the pictures to see full size.

  • MrQuiz says:

    Alex, I can relate to your experience. I saw FF years ago, when Ray Combs hosted it. I went to a taping of the syndicated version, even though it was taped at CBS Television City (“mecca”). It was the first time I had been to a taping of a game show since (at that time) they all left NYC, and I used to take the train in from Connecticut (where I’m originally from), go across the street from Grand Central Terminal and pick up tkts at the Tourist Info Bureau office to whatever was taping at NBC that day.

    Anyway, as for FF, my seats were decent. Combs would pop out from backstage between tapings to kid with Gene Wood and the audience (I also had the privilege to meet Gene Wood, as well as the show’s [then] producer, Howard Felsher). I also won $10 as a door prize.

    Did you find that the everything on the set looked “closer” than on TV?

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