With Bob Barker’s retirement inching closer, CBS has announced big plans for the octogenarian’s exit from The Price Is Right — just in time for May sweeps. In the spirit of bargains, the network will be giving us not one, but two primetime specials — plus a way for fans to get into the act. But will this end up being the game show’s swan song as well?
On Wednesday May 16th, CBS will air a primetime game show special entitled The Price is Right Million Dollar Spectacular. Contestants will have an opportunity to win bigger-than-usual prizes — including a chance to win $1 million on the big prize wheel.
The next night, CBS will present Bob Barker: A Celebration of 50 Years on Television that will celebrate Barker’s career. Barker began his national TV hosting duties in 1956 with Truth or Consequences and, for the past 35 years has been steering The Price is Right. Barker has earned 13 Emmys as host of Price and three as producer. He received a Lifetime Achievement Emmy in 1999 and was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 2004.
Home viewers can get involved in the Barker send-off as well. CBS is inviting fans to create 15-second tributes to Barker and to post them on YouTube. The best submissions will be broadcast either as part of the specials or during Price’s daytime episodes. Tributes can be posted or viewed by clicking here. The page includes an introduction from Neil Patrick Harris (CBS’ How I Met Your Mother). Harris’ Barney character has a fixation on Barker and will visit the game show in an episode of the sitcom next month.
So, is there any word on who will replace Barker following his sign-off in June? CBS hasn’t made any official announcements as yet. The owners of the show, Fremantle Media, have been looking for a replacement for the past couple years. Since Barker’s announcement in October, they’ve begun holding not-for-broadcast audition tapings with prospective hosts.
Some the early prospects included Dave Price (The Early Show weatherman), Doug Davidson (The Young and the Restless), Todd Newton (GSN game shows) and John O’Hurley (To Tell the Truth, Family Feud). Davidson hosted a 1994-syndicated version of Price that lasted a year and Newton has hosted live-on-stage versions at Harrah’s casinos.
Apparently, those folks didn’t “wow” the network brass because more auditions were held a month ago for Mario Lopez (The Other Half), Mike Richards (Beauty and the Geek) and George Hamilton (Dancing with the Stars). Mark Steines of Entertainment Tonight was auditioned two weeks ago.
Though no official announcement has been made, rumor has it that Lopez, Steines and the 67-year-old perennially-tanned Hamilton are the frontrunners. Though there are some concerns about Hamilton’s age, he seems to be overall the best choice. He’s likable, entertaining, quick on his feet, and has a similar on-screen persona to Barker. To go with a younger host and try to modernize the series would surely kill it.