With unbridled enthusiasm and uncontrolled affection, the contestants have always been the stars of “The Price is Right”. Over 2 million exuberant fans took part in the show.
But those fans will for the most part be absent when the series returns with new episodes this week, following a March hiatus due to the pandemic. For the first time, “The Price is Right” will be without an audience. And that’s not the only big change. Host Drew Carey launches a new look, sporting a beard.
“To be honest a lot about COVID, if you haven’t been sick it has been a bit of a blessing in disguise to be so closed,” Carey told “CBS This Morning: Saturday” co-host Dana Jacobson. “Because I’ve had a lot of time for soul-searching. A lot of spiritual growth this summer. Part of me wanted to reflect it with a different look. So let me grow a beard and see what it looks like. And then I liked it when it came out and kept it. “
Restarting production took months of planning. The set has been reconfigured to add social distancing, with crew members wearing masks working in zones. Safety protocols include cleaning and testing. But executive producer and showrunner Evelyn Warfel said one thing was non-negotiable.
“If you don’t hear George [Gray, the show’s announcer] say “Get off!” at the top of the series, it’s not “The Price Is Right,” “Warfel said.” So I think for us the biggest challenge was how are we going to do a “Come On Down” without an audience. And we struggled with that. “
“You have the signature line. There’s always the ‘Come On Down’,” Jacobson told Carey.
“Yeah, yeah. I wasn’t backstage to watch but I was told about it,” Carey said. “They have unhooked their ears and they are holding their mask over their face. And if they hear their name, they throw off the mask and come out. They are therefore just as surprised.
What you won’t see during the pandemic are the competition closing in on the host. Bear hugs are prohibited.
“Now I remember seeing a video of you getting run over by a competitor,” Jacobson said. “So, is it almost potentially safer now that you have social distances like keeping them from you?”
“Yeah. Nobody comes looking for me and whirling me around,” Carey said. “But I liked, you know, five-year-olds, and I liked cuddling and, like – you know, none of that stuff, man.”
“The Price is Right” first aired on CBS in 1972. Bob Barker, with his warmth and laid back style, ran the show for 35 years. He passed the baton mic to comedian Drew Carey 13 years ago.
In nearly half a century, more than $ 250 million in cash and prizes have been handed out with a live audience cheering nonstop.
Next week, the show without an audience will premiere with a prime-time special.
Carey said on the stage, “I have a beard, I don’t wear a tie and tonight we salute the essential workers.”
A small way for “The Price is Right” to give back. Something Warfel hopes to continue to do for home audiences, despite the changes.
“Especially in these times, when people are really going through difficult times, they want to see shows that are fun and exciting and that bring a little bit of joy and happiness,” Warfel said.
Carey’s goal is simple: to help candidates enjoy the moment.
“I’m a host, and I’m throwing a little party that’s a little smaller than before. So I want everyone to be comfortable and we love when people win,” said Carey. “You know, everyone behind the scenes wants people to win. No one in there ever went, ‘Oh, we have to save money. I hope they lose.’”
The iconic game show will air three prime-time specials, “The Price is Right at Night,” featuring frontline and essential workers. The first is broadcast this Tuesday evening at 8 p.m.