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Creator / Chuck Barris

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"One piece of pie is delicious. Fourteen pieces are obviously nauseating."
Chuck Barris, in a TV Guide article on the overloading of Game Shows.

Charles Hirsch "Chuck" Barris (June 3, 1929 – March 21, 2017) was a sometimes-controversial Game Show producer whose work was mostly pastiches of the genre. His library of shows is currently owned by Sony Pictures Television (via their acquisition of Guber/Peters in the early 1990s; they had bought Barris' company in 1989).

Shows produced by Barris include:

  • People Pickers (unsold 1965 pilot)
  • The Dating Game (1965-74, 1978-80, 1986-89)
  • The Newlywed Game (1966-74, 1977-80, 1984, 1985-89; actually created by Nicholson-Muir Productions)
  • Dream Girl of '67 (1966-67)
  • The Family Game (1967; also an unsold 1986 pilot hosted by Jeff MacGregor; later revived in a sense by Jay Wolpert as Wait Til You Have Kids for The Family Channel)
  • How's Your Mother-in-Law? (1967-68)
  • National Celebrity Test (1968; unsold pilot hosted by Regis Philbin)
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  • The Game Game (1969-70)
  • Cop Out! (September 1972; at least two pilots)
  • The Parent Game (1972-73; began as a 1969 pilot hosted by Clark Race for NBC)
  • (The New) Treasure Hunt (1973-77, 1981-82; revival of a 1956-59 game hosted and produced by Jan Murray, began as a 1972 pilot with a very different set and the Q&A of the 1950s version)
  • The Gong Show (1976-80, 1988-89; began as a 1975 pilot hosted by Gary Owens with a four-celebrity panel)
  • The $1.98 Beauty Show (1978-80)
  • 3's a Crowd (1979-80; began as a 1969 pilot hosted by Wink Martindale, followed by two pilots in December 1978 and a third in 1979)
  • Camouflage (1980; revival of a 1961-62 game by Jerry Hamer Productions)
  • Dollar A Second (February 7, 1981; unsold revival of a 1950s game hosted by Jan Murray)
  • Comedy Courtroom (1980s unsold pilot hosted by Barris)
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  • Bamboozle (early 1986; unsold ABC pilot hosted by Bob Hilton)

Under the Guber/Peters name, they created the following shows and pilots:

  • The Quiz Kids Challenge (1990-91; loose revival of the 1940s-50s Quiz Kids series)
  • Countdown (unsold 1990 pilot, based off the British game show)

Also wrote the following books:

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    Confessions of A Dangerous Mind 
An alleged autobiography in which Barris claimed he was using his work as a Game Show producer to hide his activities as an assassin for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. This was a brilliant claim on Barris' part as, while the CIA requires all of its employees to sign an agreement never to publish anything without getting Agency approval, if they actually tried to enforce the agreement they'd be admitting that they engaged in assassinations (violating a presidential directive). So when the CIA reportedly said that Barris has never worked for the Agency, it probably wasn't believed.note 

His autobiography was the subject of the directorial debut from George Clooney, which starred Sam Rockwell as Barris and was adapted by Charlie Kaufman.

    The Big Question 
A novel set in 2012 where Barris (now old, crippled, penniless, and long since forgotten) shares his last great idea with a young producer: The Death Game, a big-money quiz where contestants compete to determine a winner who is then asked a single (impossible) question for big money (if correct) or death by poison (if incorrect). The young man likes the idea so much that, after Barris turns down a deal, he contacts his mob friends and has the cripple buried alive; the show is renamed The Big Question, with its debut night contestants being the many characters the book has been following between the portions about the producer, Barris, and the show.

Airing live on NBC, pretty much rigged to hell and back without the contestants' knowledge, and hosted by a stereotypical "all-smiles" emcee, The Big Question is billed as the next big thing and most of America is glued to their screens. The "winner", a sweet old lady named Vera Bundle who was just beginning to experience life again, gets the final question wrong (as the producer had planned). Shortly afterward, Vera gives a "The Reason You Suck" Speech to the doctor administering the poison - after which the doctor forces the poison down her throat; Vera dies soon afterward.

A massive outcry begins against the show and NBC, presumably because almost nobody knew about the whole "death" element. While The Big Question manages to stay on the air despite this, it eventually gets canned after just three episodes,


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