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The Nebraska TV Legend You’ve Probably Never Heard Of – Omaha, Nebraska

Omaha, Nebraska 2021-09-13 13:40:25 –

FLATWATER FREE PRESS — One of the iconic game shows that Harry Friedman has taken to new heights, using his own biography as a clue: For over 20 years, Executive Producer of both this native “Jeopardy” and “Wheel of Fortune”, Nebraska has won more Emmy Awards than anyone else in the history of video game shows.

“Jeopardy” is now making news for all the wrong reasons. New executive producer Mike Richards has been dismissed due to a failed search to replace the legendary Alex Trebek and offensive comments. But the most successful and uncontroversial decades of the show have been led by Friedman, the unpretentious Omaha boy who has become the icon of the game show.

“This is a developing story and I don’t want to comment,” Friedman said on the phone from his home in Los Angeles, talking about the current issues with the game show. “But I could say that I wasn’t consulted during the selection process for host candidates, and I didn’t expect to be consulted.”

Friedman’s enhancements to both “Jeopardy” and “Wheel” (a spectacular set, an entertaining remote control, and the use of champions’ social media topics) have revived, rated and evaluated the brand created by Merv Griffin. Soared profits. He produced thousands of episodes, won 14 Emmy Awards, won the prestigious Peabody Award for “Jeopardy” in 2012, and earned his star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame shortly before retiring. Did.

The two hosts he’s linked to indefinitely explained his impact on Variety Magazine when Friedman finally hung up in 2020.

“I miss his great talent, unmistakable instinct, and genuine kindness,” said Pat Sajak, the host of the famous “Wheel.” “He’s just the best.”

“Harry is the most creative producer I’ve ever worked with,” Trebek said a few months before his death.

Make your own way

Friedman, 74, was neither from the Shobiz family nor a media production study. But growing up in the Golden Age of Television caused a conspiracy to grow up in his career.

His Polish Jewish immigrant parents, David and Rose, met in Omaha. They belonged to the Beth Israel Synagogue. His Fix-It father owned Aksarben Furniture and Television Repair near downtown. Today, Harry enjoys symmetry. Dad is a TV repairman. His son is the creator of television content.

Friedman’s father saw television as a household fixture and an opportunity. Elder Friedman learned to repair a television through a how-to manual ordered by mail.

In the summer, Harry helped the store. He saw a passerby standing fixed in front of a television playing in the front window.

“I don’t think anyone had a TV at home. I saw the power of TV so I can clearly portray that moment in my head.”

When radio comedy stars like Jack Benny and George Burns moved to television, their reputation in the media grew.

“I loved those shows because they were sweet, funny and wonderful escapism. It worked with me. I wanted to be part of it.”

As a kid, he lived an illusion when Greg Dan, the host of KMTV’s horrifying night show “Gregore,” invited him behind the curtain.

Friedman, 10 years old, called Dan at the station and invited him to a Halloween party. Dan declined, but welcomed fans to watch the show live on Saturday night. Friedman’s father drove him there.

One day after school, Friedman appeared at the station for more. No one stopped him, so he kept coming back. He looked into news shows and met on-air talent, including future network newsman Floyd Culver. Finally, someone asked, “Who does this kid belong to?”

“I remember coming back a few times … the charm of it never left me.”

Bitten by a bug, he starred in plays and musicals in Central. He was Mayor Shin in “Music Man” and lead in “Fiorello”.

After graduating in 1964, he planned to move into the industry. Johnny Carson and Dick Cavett left here to make it on TV. Henry Fonda and Sandy Dennis made it on the stage screen. Why not him?

“I was so naive that I couldn’t think of anything else.”

His parents endorsed his unlikely dream, or at least then refused to talk to him.

“They knew it was dangerous, but they also knew it was something I had to do,” he says. He agreed to a six-month trial. “In my opinion, failure was not an option. There was no plan B.”

He wrote a “pattern” for cabaret singer Kay Dennis and found a job in Los Angeles before a voluntary deadline.

His break took place in 1971 and he was offered a full-time job while freelance at “Hollywood Square”. He stayed for 10 years and wrote jokes for star panelists such as Paul Lynde, Rosemary, George Gobel and Charlie Weaver.

Friedman was also able to be at the forefront of what it takes to be a producer (distribution, advertising, marketing, casting). This is the actual education that will pay dividends soon.

Participate in a TV franchise game show

Friedman joined “Wheel” in 1995, added “Jeopardy” in 1997, and became an executive producer of both in 2000. He never lost the special place these shows were held by the family.

“Everyone I meet seems to have a story of a” wheel “or” Jeopardy “who grew up watching with their parents or grandparents. It was an experience to deepen the bond. Or, they remember a particular “wheel” puzzle or “final jepady” question, but all three contestants missed it. “

Friedman thought, “You can get paid by going to work every day to do something that makes millions of people happy every day.”

He met Johnny Carson, the late-night king. His “Tonight’s Show” was recorded from “Square” across the hall. Carson’s younger brother, Dick, oversaw the “Wheel” for some time under Friedman.

Friedman came across many cartoon legends that first inspired him. He recorded the celebrity clues to “Jeopardy” with heroes Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks.

TV house and family

Nebraska’s “Jeopardy” clues came from a rare confluence of indigenous peoples at the show. Friedman, writers Steve Melius and Gay Regionson, and Associate Producer Stewart Hawk.

Intimacy with the same host, staff and crew promoted a family atmosphere. Sajak brought his wife when “Wheel” was taped to the location. Harry’s spouse Judy Friedman has also arrived.

“We are still friends,” says Friedman.

Both “Jeopardy” and “Wheel” remote taping showed the depth of fan passion. The audience barked when Pat Sajak and Vanna White were announced.

“Same as when Alex was introduced. Overwhelming applause. But when they see their” friends “in person, they also smile on people’s faces. “

Beloved Trebek fought a brave fight against cancer, often hiding pain and the side effects of his treatment from the public eye.

On March 11, 2020, the last tape day Friedman spent on the “Jeopardy” set, Trebek appeared to be “moody and terrible.”

“By the age of 11, when he was introduced to the first show … Alex somehow transformed and evoked the power to become a brilliant host that everyone knew and loved,” Friedman said. say.

The staff and crew closed the day thinking they would be back in the weeks following the passage of this new virus, called COVID-19. This was the last time many people saw Trebek in person.

“The last time I talked to Alex was on the phone on November 5, just three days before he died. We both knew it would be the last time we talked. rice field.”

Friedman believes that Trebek’s popularity is the product of the fact that “he not only read the clues, but presented them.” Its ability to draw words, a skill refined as a Canadian broadcaster, came from precise timing, wording and emphasis.

Trebek also worked stubbornly. Friedman recalled Trebek’s recording day ritual of arriving early to study the clues to the five recorded games. “Often he will say,’Hey, do you know what I’ve learned now?’ And he quoted something from one of the clues presented that day.

“He was hellishly smart and curious,” Friedman said. Mr Friedman said Trebek would always be the face of “Jeopardy” no matter who succeeded him.

In terms of his own heritage, Friedman considers his run at those career-making shows “certainly very special.” He regrets that his parents weren’t alive to see him guide them.

In 2018, Friedman recovered, but suffered serious health fears. “Something like that makes you think about where you are and what you want to do. After a full recovery, when you reach the age of 25 (joining the” wheel “) I thought it was a good number to retire. “

Retirement was busier than I expected. He consults with a production company and enjoys another full-time gig idea. Even if that doesn’t happen, he remains a good feed for solving trivia puzzles.

Friedman does not boast of the Guinness Book of World Records (12,540), which he holds in most of the game show episodes produced so far. The discreet producer quietly left “Jeopardy” and “Wheel” at the height of the pandemic and held two zoom parties.

That’s not the way he wanted to say goodbye, but it was behind the scenes worthy of this ultimate man.

Three other things you didn’t know about Harry Friedman:

1. Harry Friedman and his wife Judy helped fund the neonatal intensive care unit in Omaha’s children’s hospitals and medical centers. This gift is given in memory of my niece Jill Schlier Folsom, who was an active volunteer at Children’s. The couple have also provided significant support to the Central High School Foundation, especially the school’s performing arts program.

2. Friedman was a friend of the late Gale Levin, a classmate at Omaha Central High School who was successful on television as a documentary filmmaker. (“Making the Misfits”, “James Dean: Sense Memories”). Ten and a half years ago, central classmates Joan Micklin Silver (“Hester Street”) and Donald E. Sorin (“Midnight Run”) were active in the screen industry as writer and cinematographer, respectively.

3. Friedman is best known as a producer, but initially established himself as a writer. He is a member of the Writers Guild of America.

Harold Schneider and Friedman, who belong to the same Jewish youth group and were a year away at Omaha Central, ended up working on the same game show. They also teamed up as writing partners.

They were almost successful in a comedy called “Rolling Hills,” set in Southern California’s “Fat Farm.”

About a week before the start of shooting, the production company unplugged it. According to Friedman, the company needed funding for “Rolling Hills” to market and promote another movie project.

“We later learned that this little Oscar-winning movie was abandoned for Gandhi.” We had to maintain a prepayment of at least $ 25,000. “

Asked if he and his Nebraska compatriots have found time to recollect their shared home state, Friedman recalls.

Flatwater Free Press is Nebraska’s first independent non-profit newsroom, focusing on research and important feature articles. For more information flatwaterfreepress.org

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The Nebraska TV Legend You’ve Probably Never Heard Of Source link The Nebraska TV Legend You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

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