Thursday, December 3, 2015

We went to the Price Is Right

So OK, I made it to Hollywood! Yes, as funny as that sounds, it's true!

So what am I talking about? Well, my mom turned 81 years old  on November 6th. When asked what she wanted for her 81st birthday, she replied, "To be on the Price Is Right!"

Yes, my mom is one of the millions of people out there who turn on their televisions to watch the Price Is Right game show. And yes, since mom requested what she had, I have found a great number of people who watch that show religiously. Some watch it daily, others tape it for later, and a few have said that they want to be on it as well. For me, being real honest, I'd never watched the whole show. So frankly, I really didn't know much about it.

But with mom's request in mind, my wife Deanna and I got on-line to research what it would take to go to Hollywood and be on the Price Is Right. We found their website, and soon picked a date and time and had tickets to stand in line with a couple of hundred other people to get in.

Of course, first in line has a better chance of getting in to be part of the audience. The four of us were numbers 008, 009, 010, and 011. So as you can see, we were pretty much the first in line.

We arranged to be there on November 30th, at the 12 Noon taping. We were also given directions, and we found hotel rooms. We did all of this within an hour or so of us sitting at a computer. Yes, as remarkable as that is, it was all just that quick all on line.

To say that my mom was excited about going would have been an understatement. She told all of her friends who she plays cards and bunco with. And yes, she certainly told all of her Red Hat cronies the news. In fact, I don't know anyone in the small town of Ione who didn't know she was going to be on the Price Is Right.

On Thanksgiving, after having dinner, while I grabbed a seat in a recliner to slip into a turkey-coma, Deanna and mom set out to make shirts that would hopefully catch the attention of the folks who pick people to go up on-stage. For me, I have to admit that it was certainly a lot of fun just watching them acting like kids as they wrote catchy phrases on their shirts -- all in glitter of course!

As for me, since it is the Christmas Season, I figured that I'd simply grab my newest 4XL red shirt and wear it. Since I was told that television cameras make people look 10 pounds heavier than they are, I figured I'd certainly look as big as a house on TV.

At first, I figured we'd drive the 7 hours or so south to Los Angeles a day ahead of time -- but then it became very evident that mom wanted to go sight seeing even if it meant just the sights right there in Hollywood. Thankfully, my wife Deanna is game and willing to go on adventures now and again.

So while I figured that Deanna and I would take my mom to Hollywood alone, I was shocked when my older brother said that he wanted to go as well. While he's not one for traveling, come to find out that he watches the show pretty regularly as well.

Deanna and I asked and were very happy that our great friends Kevin and Bret Haight agreed to feed and care for our horses and critters while we were gone. They are such a great young couple. And yes, their son Rider, age 10, and daughter Paisley, age 5, are wonderful kids. While I'm thankful that Kevin sees me as a good friend, Bret calls me "dad," and their kids treat my wife and I as their adopted grandparents. So yes, we are all pretty close. And frankly, it's great.

Knowing that our place was in good hands, and knowing that my father-in-law was coming up to use my gun range and then take our dog Holly home with him for the week was a great relief, it certainly helps lessen worry about what's going on at home while you're away.

So with everything set in place, at about 10:30 on Saturday morning November 28th, my wife and I left home to pick up my brother and mom to head south for Los Angeles about 400 miles away.

Google Maps determined that our trip would take 7 hours from our home. But with detouring to pick up my brother and mom, we lost an hour or so right at the start. And no, Google's timeline didn't account for Holiday Weekend traffic or construction delays. So all in all, I drove for almost 10 hours to get us to Hollywood.

We stayed at the Best Western Hotel on Highland Ave. And yes, it was very nice there. On Sunday morning we had breakfast at the hotel's coffee shop, and that's where I met my first actress while in Hollywood.

Our server was a very friendly gal by the name of Fany Rosen who had a very slight accent. Because I can usually pickup that sort of thing, I asked her where she was originally from? Come to find out she was from "Sweden," and she said that she was there to be an actress.

Fany is a very pretty gal who ended up telling us a lot about how the whole acting thing works. The want of being on camera. The acting workshops. The acting academies. The want of a line or two. The hope of being a guest on a show. The desire to be a recurring guest star on a series. The dream of getting a part in a movie. She said she had been in a film or two, and that was great to hear. She seemed to have the right attitude to stay the course. I really do hope she makes it.

Since mom wanted to check out Grauman's Chinese Theater and the historic Hollywood Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard, we left the Best Western to check it out and almost immediately ran smack dab into traffic. We found that Hollywood Blvd and a few other streets were being closed because of the Hollywood Christmas Parade that night. Yes, closed streets means diverted traffic to already congested traffic. It was a mess!

Friends, it was one of those situations you find yourself in where there's nothing else to do but remain calm and keep cool. Yes, the traffic down there takes all the patience that you can muster.

And frankly, while I only lost my cool once and yelled at some jerk to get his head out of his ass, I mostly just kept shaking my head in disbelief that people actually live there. They have an abundance of jackasses behind the wheel down there. We almost got hit a few times. So yes, it's hard to believe that people live in that on a daily basis.

We were diverted down one street where there were over a dozen tow-trucks towing away parked cars. Soon it became evident that there was a fleet of tow-trucks out all doing the same thing to get ready for the parade that night.

About 4 pm, I decided that mom would be disappointed if we didn't check out the parade that she'd only seen on TV. So since it was supposed to start at 5 pm, I dropped of Deanna and mom. I left for a few minutes to take my brother back to the hotel.

When I returned, I found Deanna and mom. We then pushed mom's wheelchair down the sidewalk through the crowd block after block until we found a place to position ourselves to watch the parade.

Now I would have thought that those city people would be rude and pushy like the people in San Francisco. But frankly, they were the opposite. Unlike the city folks in San Francisco, all of the folks along the sidewalks of the parade route were very friendly. It was a great surprise!

Patiently, yes, we waited and watched the parade preparation until the show started. It didn't start until 6:30 pm. And all in all, it was worth it because mom certainly enjoyed seeing the celebrities from the different television Soap-operas. For me, I had never heard of any of them -- but then again I don't watch Soap-operas.

And yes, I really believe that it was worth it for my wife and I since we both enjoyed the marching bands, the huge parade balloons all being held down by people on the ends of ropes, and the movie cars from films such as Batman, the Green Hornet, Transformers, Back To The Future, and more.

I went over to the Hooters Restaurant on Hollywood Blvd to buy a few bottled waters. It was there that I met two gals who were actresses, one singer, and one gal who was a model. Daisy, the Hooters gal who was working the register, said she was from Los Angeles and didn't have any desire to be an actress or a model. I found that sort of incredible considering she was the one person there with the nicest personality.

During the parade, of the people standing around us, many seemed to be from someplace other than California. Most of those folks were there to get into show business in one way or another. By then, I was getting used to meeting people who wanted to be actors and actresses.

While meeting would-be entertainers was not surprising after a while, what was surprising was the lack of education of many who wanted to pursue acting. You see, when I was in college, I remember a few folks there who studied drama and even Shakespeare. Most were good Liberal Arts students. Back then, it seems as though most of the drama students enjoyed life in college and "learning the craft of acting" as one fellow student told me once.

In Hollywood, I met a couple of would-be actresses who said they simply dropped out of High School and College to go to Hollywood to get into show business. One young man told me that he realized that he didn't need a College degree to be an actor. He said one day he suddenly realized that he didn't have be a doctor to play a doctor on television. He said, "They'll tell me what to say and all I have to do is repeat it."

Yes, he has a point. Actors and actresses don't have to be very educated to parrot lines. But frankly, I would think that as with any profession -- a well rounded education certainly wouldn't hurt.

After the parade, instead of dodging people on the sidewalk, Deanna and I pushed my mom onto the "red carpet" in front of Grauman's which was all covered up. So since the road was still blocked off, I pushed mom up the middle of Hollywood Blvd for the 4 or 5 blocks to where our car was parked. We had a good laugh about her making it onto the "red carpet."

The next morning, we arrived at CBS Studio and was allowed in at 10:30 and not a minute earlier. Once there, we sat around in line along with about 200 others until around 11:30. That was when we were issued "Contestant" numbers, and herded to benches for orientation.

The orientation included getting name tags, and legal forms to fill out and sign. The forms were all very legal to make sure that we stayed within their guidelines of not wearing any clothing to push products, or make political statements, or are vulgar or obscene. And of course, they wanted us to know what we could say and could not say on stage if called up. It was about 5 pages of legalize.

Then a little after Noon, a man who I believe was the Assistant Producer came up to each of us to "interview" us. He was the man who selected who would be chosen to go on-stage. He wanted to know what we did for a living.

I really believe that he wanted to see just how animated we were. Yes, it seemed to me that he was looking for the most animated dancing monkeys he could find. And yes, that's probably why none of us were picked. He probably saw that we looked a little tired from waiting around in lines.

Of course, there was a lot more waiting to do before actually going into the studio. You see, after the two question "interview", we were told to wait before being allowed in.

So yes, we all sat around until 3:30 pm before they finally let us into the studio to get the show on the road. Because my mom was in a wheelchair, they allowed us head-of-the-line-privileges for us to get to our seats. After we were inside the Bob Barker Studio and seated, they then let everyone else in. And yes, the place became a party!

The studio ceiling was hidden by what looked like a thousand studio spot and theatrical lights of every sort. There were at least 5 cameras on stage, including a boom camera. Among the monitors to watch what was being filmed, was also "APPLAUSE" signs. I found the whole production all very interesting to watch.

The taping of the show took about 3 hours. Yes, we left there at 6:45 pm. It was one long day. And this all leads to the question put to me by a friend yesterday when I was telling him about the trip.

"Was it worth it?" he asked.

Well, by the time it ended, mom was exhausted -- but she loved it. My brother, my wife and I all enjoyed the show a lot. And no, I'm not talking about the show that millions of viewers see on television. I'm talking about the production and the show that goes on during the production.

Though it took hours to get there, and hours to finally get in and be seated. it was a hoot! And yes, the reason for all of the laughter and fun was the show's star Drew Carey. Between he and announcer George Gray, during the taping, they entertained the audience non-stop!
Drew Carey asked people in the audience where they were from, what they did for a living, and who they were with. He'd relate his love of Disneyland and things in common with folks in the audience. His being personable was just great. He got personal about his time in college and other aspects of his life as well, and everyone in the audience ate it up -- me included.

Yes, since I was wearing Marine Corps ball cap, he asked me if I was in the Marine Corps? I said yes, and he went on to tell me that he was in the Marine Corps Reserves once upon a time. He was about to say something else when he was called away. I'm sort of curious what was it that he was about to say, but I'll never know.

Was it an effort to keep the audience raved-up and cheering? Sure, but it worked to the benefit of everyone there. From what I could see, everyone was having a great time. And frankly friends, I hadn't laughed so hard in a long long time -- especially at great clean jokes and puns!

If I had it in my power to produce a television show, it would be a show about what goes on behind that scenes at the Price Is Right.  It would show the crazies in the audience, it would have Drew Carey's outstanding sense of humor, and it would have his sidekick George Gray to back him up. It would be something to watch, and it would be a hit.

So was it all worth it? Was it worth it even though none of us were called to "Come On Down!"?

Well, yes it was. You see besides making mom's wish come true, the good time during the show and even the fun we had during the trip itself made everything worth while. Heck, even my curmudgeon older brother had a good time down there and on the way home. Imagine that! Miracles do happen!

As soon as it was over, we fought a little traffic but surprisingly not much. Once on the freeway north, I set the cruise control to 75 and pointed my Tahoe home. With no freeway traffic to speak of, we made it from Hollywood to just outside of Bakersfield in under 2 hours.

After stopping for dinner, we left and a little over 4 hours later dropped mom off at her home in the town of Ione a little after 2 am. My wife Deanna and I dropped my brother off at his home in Jackson at about 3. And as for Deanna and I, the end of a long day came when we got home at about 3:30.

During dinner, mom asked us if we would do it again? I though about it for a second and said "maybe with a few changes. But sure!"

On the way home, after dropping off my brother, Deanna told me that she didn't know about doing that run to Hollywood again anytime soon. I told her that after I thought about it a little more, I didn't think we would be making such a trip again. It made for a very long weekend, and none of us are getting any younger.

But then again, who knows what we might do or where we might head off to on a whim. As is life, we should just be ready for any impulse that one gets. That is, after all, part of what makes life exciting.

And yes, that's just the way I see it.
Tom Correa


  1. Thanks for telling me about "The Price Is Right" Tom. I haven't seen that game show since Bob Barker was the host. That reminds me. I had the strangest dream. I was in bed and all of a sudden I was sucked into a time machine that took me to "The Price Is Right". You were there with your mother and your wife and I was there with Drew Carey and Tina Turner. What she was doing there I don't know. But you and I had the easiest questions to answer and besides the host said that the only way I could go back home and to my own timeline once again was to guess correctly. If I got any of the answers incorrect, I would be stuck there and I wouldn't win anything. After answering each question correctly, I was able to go home and the dream was over. In the dream I asked what I had won, and the host said, "A free trip to Italy". I've dreamed of lots of things, Tom, sometimes more than once. Hell, I've even dreamed of being married. And in the dream, I was. But boy, that pretend wife sure looked ugly when I woke up. So I guess that free trip to Italy will be in my next dream. As always, Tom, your friend, Benny. And you're right, you know. The price IS right.

  2. Remember when I said that free trip to Italy was gonna be in my next dream? Well, I had the dream just the other night. And Tom, you were there. But so was John Wayne, Jack Palance, Raquel Welch, Glenn Ford, James Coburn, Diana Ross, Joe Biden, and Kurt Cobain. I looked around and thought to myself, "One of us has been smoking weed and it's not me." Then I remembered. All of THOSE people were from my other dreams! But as for you, Tom, you're now in every one of them! And your monkey friend Henry is too! I don't know how or why, but it seems that monkey Henry always shows up when you least expect him to. And then I also remembered that in the dream I was married. How did THAT happen? I've never been married! I'm not even married now! Oh well. I guess next, I'll dream of getting shot at by the James Gang. Until then Tom, see ya soon.

  3. I had a dream the other night that I was on a TV Western. Tom, you were in it along with that monkey Henry. But so was Glenn Ford, Randolph Scott, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Henry Fonda, Richard Boone, Humphrey Bogart, Ward Bond, James Arness, John Wayne, Michael Dante, Henry Silva, and Bruce Dern. And none of us knew what the episode was about. And in the dream, once again, I was married. But that was not the only dream I had the other night. I actually had multiple dreams the other night. I dreamed I was on the Ed Sullivan Show, I dreamed I was in Italy, I dreamed I was at the Alamo, I dreamed I was in England, I dreamed I was in the Old West, I dreamed I was in the roaring 20s, AND I dreamed I saw JFK getting shot! All in one night! And the one thing that didn't change was that you, Henry, and your wife, Deanna, were there! I just gotta ask, Tom. How do you keep getting my address in these dreams? LOL


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