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HARRY FRIEDMAN

Are you a quiz20show buff? Well, the category is "television." What is the world's #1 quiz show? What is the world's #1 game show?

Harry Friedman, an Agoura Hills resident with a wife and two daughters, knows the answers. He's the producer of both shows. Born and raised in Omaha, Harry says he grew up in the television business. Well, at least on its fringes. In the early 1950's, his father was one of the first retail television dealers in Omaha. Fascinated with the programs and personalities he saw on those "magic boxes," Harry hung around Omaha’s first television station where a local young man named Johnny Carson was doing quiz shows at the time. Long before there was any job=2 0like "production intern," Harry learned the business by "watching and doing."

In 1971, he moved to Los Angeles, "where television was happening," and landed his first t.v. job as a question writer on "Hollywood Squares." He wrote the questions and he wrote the jokes. In the seventies, he says, there were certain things you could say that you can't today. "Today we're worried about everything being politically correct. In those days, the attitude of Hollywood Squares was that you could be irreverent, you could put down anyone as long you put down everyone."

"I had a question for Paul Linde once. 'Is there anything that will bring tears to a monkey's eyes?' The answer was: 'Yes. Learning that Tarzan swings both ways.' I'm not sure you could do that joke today. "

Two emmys and thousands of shows later, Harry is still in the game show business, producing JEOPARDY!, the #1 quiz show, and WHEEL OF FORTUNE, the #1 game show. Both shows have been on the air for more than a decade. "They provide a kind of e ntertainment that is not really demanding," Harry says. "Watching Jeopardy or Wheel is not dependent on whether you saw last night's show or last week’s episode. It's a half hour that takes you away from your troubles. It's not Jerry Springer. You don't have to be afraid of what's on in your home. It's entertaining. You can even team something."

The shows get more than a million requests a year from people that want to be contestants. There are tryouts all over the country. For "Jeopardy," prospective contestants have to take a tough intelligence test. For "Wheel," there's a word puzzle test.

A lot of people invest a lot of time and effort to get on these shows. And once the cameras roll, there's a lot of stress. "We've had people on both shows pass out, throw up, wet their pants," Harry told me. "We've even had to stop for lactating mothers." AU this happens unbeknownst to the audience. They simply stop taping.

You don't have to be a Phd to win either. In fact, on "Jeopardy" the biggest money winner was a New York City transit cop. "A smart guy, very well read," Friedman recalls. "He won $243,000." "Wheel" gives away $7,000,000 per season.

Although there are 195 episodes of "Wheel" shot each year and 230 episodes of "Jeopardy," they shoot five episodes at a time. So. Alex, and Pat, and Vanna only work about forty-five days a year. I think that's why they're always smiling.

Harry Friedman is a busy man, producing them world's most popular game shows. "But game shows," he laments," are like the Rodney Dangerfield of entertainment. They get no respect." All they do is entertain a lot of people and make a lot of money.

Finally, some game show trivia. Who is listed in The Guinness Book of Records as the world's most frequent clapper? If you answered "Vanna White," you may be quiz show material. Harry tells me his shows have no losers - just non-winners.