Sunday, January 02, 2011

GSK's Second-Half Overview of '10

July began w/ Morgan Cooper losing Triple Play on "The Price is Right" before becoming a Double Showcase Winner on their second-ever Fourth of July episode that aired July 2nd w/ $66K+. The next night, at the same time Dan Shak won the $100K buy-in event of GSN's "Aussie Millions" series, Phil Ivey became the all-time tournament poker money winner in history! In the first full week of July, "Jeopardy!" became a little more generous on their latest Kids Week when they raised their minimum guarantee for each day's winner to $15K, as well as award their young winners a bonus trip; also, "Big Brother" began their 12th season by making Annie Whittington its Saboteur. If she had made it to the halfway mark, she would've won $50K. Alas, the rest of the houseguests figured out what was going on & they evicted her on the spot the very next week. Ragan Fox would take over that role for two weeks on August 8th.

When the 7th hit, "Minute to Win It" revamped its format by letting teams of two compete, instituting the current three safe haven money tree & even giving several people a free chance to play Supercoin for $1 Million or nothing. Although still nobody has become a millionaire on this show, the team of Aaron Hendrick & Kimberly Fox became their biggest winners to date w/ half a million dollars over their two episode run spanning the 14th & the 21st!

On the 14th, six male Parkour players broke the "Silent Library" civilian game record w/ $5,200, and the show gave away over $10K overall that week. As for "BrainSurge", they went into hiatus a few weeks into their second season after the July 15th episode & have only aired two weeks of original episodes in the Fall since, putting their future in doubt. "The Newlywed Game" was renewed on the 22nd, but Carnie Wilson didn't return as host due to a financial dispute w/ GSN involving her unsuccessful "Unstapled" reality series. She was replaced by Sherri Shepherd of "The View" and the show went back to taping in NYC. The month ended w/ the debut of "Masterchef" in the U.S., Ellen DeGeneres leaving "American Idol" & Nigel Lythgoe returning as an executive producer for "Idol".

In the beginning of August, Kara DioGuardi followed Ellen out of the "Idol" judging panel while Tyron Krost brought home the "Aussie Millions" main event title to the home country of Australia. On August 9th, "Ca$h Cab" went to Las Vegas for the first time, and "Catch 21" kicked off its 130-episode fourth season (its longest to date!) on the 16th. When this month ended, Jeff Probst won the Outstanding Host for a Reality Competition Program Emmy again, but "Top Chef" ended "The Amazing Race's" winning streak in the Outstanding Reality Competition Program category.

When the Fall GS season got started, "Wheel of Fortune" again did a season's first two weeks in Las Vegas w/ the upgrading of the minimum BR cash prize to $30K & the addition of a $5K bonus for any car wins, "Millionaire" changed its format again, "Family Feud" totally improved their status by replacing John O'Hurley as host w/ Steve Harvey, "The Price is Right" introduced their $100K Pricing Game titled Pay the Rent, made some cosmetic changes to Pl!nko & 10 Chances & started using comedic guest announcers w/ the departure of Rich Fields. However, the biggest thing that happened that week was on September 14th, when Roger Craig broke the one-day "Jeopardy!" regular game record of $77K! The next night, Jackie Evancho's bid to become the youngest "America's Got Talent" champ ever was thwarted by Michael Grimm, and Hayden Moss won "Big Brother XII" on the very last vote; also, Britney Haynes won the $25K popularity poll (for a total of $35K) to help her out in getting a new house, since her prior home got burned down a few days before. On that Thursday (the 16th), "The Apprentice" had its first civilian season since the Winter '07 season in L.A., but it wound up being its lowest-rated season ever. As soon as "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?" & "Don't Forget the Lyrics!" began their seasons on the 20th, "5th Grader" dropped a few questions per episode and the Save & forced all of its players to start at the bottom of the board & work their way up. During the night of Sept. 21st, "The Biggest Loser" introduced a qualifying element for at least that season only when it came to being a part of the main cast at the ranch. On the 28th, Kathy "Fingers" Greco announced that she was leaving the "TPiR" crew.

On October 7th, at the same time Katherine Gunn won the second season of "WCG Ultimate Gamer" & Michele Williams won $125K on "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?", Uwimana Waller won the $100K on "WoF" during just its 19th episode of Season 28, a new speed record! During the weekend of October 10th, The Hub began broadcasting w/ its two signature game shows being the daily "Pictureka!" & the weekly "Family Game Night". The week of Oct. 11-17 saw "Jeopardy!" celebrate 6,000 syndicated shows, eventual champ Ann Ward win her unprecedented fifth straight Best Photo award on "America's Next Top Model" & Rat Race being swept for the very first time on "Price". "WoF's" final two weeks of the month were controversial, as "Get Out of Town Week" had promoted a possible millionaire on the 19th (the same day when former $125K "Minute to Win It" winner Blake Duplant won the Showcase on "TPiR" and Gas Money was won for the first time in nearly two years) when that didn't even come close to happening & that particular theme week was cut to four episodes to make room for a six-episode "Halloween" week. Kimberly Collins, however, completed a thrilling two-episode "Millionaire" game on the 18th (which began on the 15th) w/ a $250K win.

As GSK's fifth season began on Oct. 25, TWO civilian players won $50K on "Lyrics!" (one of them being former "5th Grader" player Sandra Benton) in the same week, "Price" was totally skunked on Oct. 28 (the same day when Gretchen Jones won "Project Runway") & Alex Messina came so close to being the first quarter millionaire of the season on "5th Grader" two days before Halloween.

The month of November got off to a heartbreaking start when "Wheel" announcer Charlie O'Donnell passed away, which caused the show to do the same thing "Price" has been doing nowadays- use rotating sub-announcers such as Johnny Gilbert & Rich Fields. On a very happy note, the 5th had Caitlin Burke pull off arguably the most incredible solve in the show's history when she nailed "I'VE GOT A GOOD FEELING ABOUT THIS" during a Prize Puzzle Round w/ just one letter showing, prompting a media frenzy that was bigger than the one for Michelle Lowenstein's million-dollar win! The next night, Allen Cunningham & Huck Seed became the first-ever Doubles Poker Champions. Week 2 of that month proved to be a roller coaster one for "TPiR" when it had another El Skunko epsiode & its lowest daily budget output in the modern era ($7K+) on the 10th. Immediately after that on Veteran's Day, Zachery Garrison of the U.S. Marine Corps came the closest ever to winning the $100K top prize playing Pay the Rent when he came up w/ the correct product combination, but walked away at the $10K mark. Disaster struck for Brandy & Maksim Chermovskiy on the 16th when they were the last team eliminated before the most recent finale of "Dancing with the Stars" thanks in part to the controversial duo of Bristol Palin & Mark Ballas getting more votes. Cooler heads prevailed, though, on the 23rd when Jennifer Grey & Derek Hough took home the mirror ball trophy. Also that month, "1 vs. 100" returned to TV as a weeknight series for GSN on the 15th and was hosted by "Dancing with the Stars" judge Carrie Ann Inaba; "Let's Make a Deal" also ended the month in style w/ a record $78K+ episode, one day after $65K+ in cash & prizes had been given away!

The last month of December definitely didn't disappoint in excitement (even though Holli Ugalde had to forfeit her job prize that she won on "Hell's Kitchen" due to work visa issues and had to settle for the cash buyout). Ann Ward went on to become "America's Next Top Model's" most incredible champ of all-time (w/ a record amount of photo shoot wins), the team of Kat Chang & Nat Strand became the first all-female $1M winners ever on "The Amazing Race" (Bob Eubanks even made a cameo towards the end of the finale!), Jud "Fabio" Birza became "Survivor's" youngest winner to date & Tom Nissley became one of the very few "Jeopardy!" champs to win at least eight consecutive games w/ a grand total of $236,405, making him their third-highest regular game winner of all-time!!! Not only that, Judy Ho became "Price's" third-highest daytime winner (and the highest in the Drew Carey daytime era) w/ $101K+ after an incredible Double Showcase Win on her Showcase that included an Acura ZDX, & their second New Year's-theme show had both Rat Race swept for the second time & a $60K+ BMW convertible Showcase won! In addition, Hillary Light was totally shocked when she easily won her $100K "Wheel" bonus round & Meg Miller ended "Millionaire's" year w/ another $250K win!

Coming up in 2011: Will we ever know who will be the new permanent announcers for "Price" & "Wheel"? Who will win "The IBM Challenge" on "Jeopardy!"? And how will the 10th season of "American Idol" go w/ its staffers?
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