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Creator / Jay Wolpert

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Jay Wolpert (January 29, 1942 – January 3, 2022) was an American Game Show producer born in New York City, New York. He started off as a Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions winner in 1969, but then entered the game show trade himself. At first he worked with the other major production companies of the era, but his most prominent work came at Goodson-Todman, where he helped produce The (New) Price is Right from 1972-78 and created the short-lived quiz show Double Dare (the one with Alex Trebek).

Wolpert's time at Price was notable for establishing the Showcase skits that debuted in 1974, where his fertile mind went to work on creating fairy tale and film parodies, Captain Klutz and the April Fool's Day Showcases. After leaving Price, Wolpert started his own production company, and began producing his own game shows such as Blackout and Whew! for CBS, and Hit Man for NBC. He also worked on two Goodson revivals for first-run syndication: The New Price Is Right with Doug Davidson (1994-95), and a revival of Match Game hosted by Michael Burger (1998-99). His longest-running show was Shopping Spree, which he created for The Family Channel; it was renewed for a second season, but the series (as well as its partner, The New Shop Til You Drop) met its fate in 1998 after the acquisition of the channel by Fox.

After Spree ended, Wolpert's company stopped producing new shows, but Wolpert continued working with others and dabbled in screenwriting a bit too. He was credited for the script of The Count of Monte Cristo, story in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, and as a consultant for the "Super Mix" (2010-15) changes to Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?. He also has a cameo as a doctor in Father of the Bride Part II (produced by his one-time production assistant Nancy Meyers, who later gave him the idea to start screenwriting).

Wolpert died on January 2, 2022 at the age of 79, from complications of Alzheimer's disease.

Several tropes are recurring in many of Wolpert's game shows:
  • An Animated Credits Opening showing the basic premise of the game (Whew, Trivial Pursuit, Blackout, Shopping Spree);
  • The rules approaching Calvinball levels of complexity and/or a generally bizarre theme (pretty much all of them)
  • Suspenseful Think Music during the bonus round that featured alternating notes on each second, as well as repetitive Truck Drivers Gear Changes (Blackout, Rodeo Drive, Wait Til You Have Kids);
  • Rod Roddy as announcer in the 70s and 80s, with Burton Richardson taking his place in the 90s.
  • Bonus losses being punctuated by a unique Signature Sound Effect (Whew, Hit Man) or particularly bizarre Losing Horns (Double Dare, Blackout, Rodeo Drive, Shopping Spree, Wait Til You Have Kids)
    • The Price Is Right may also qualify since Wolpert had his hand in the first few years of the current version (the Trope Codifier for Losing Horns) as well as the 1994 syndicated version (which gave us one of the most extreme examples of the trope in the entire genre).

Shows originally produced by Jay Wolpert Productions include:

  • Whew! (1979-80; at least three pilots were taped December 4, 1978)
  • Pandemonium (November 2-3, 1979; unsold pilots hosted by Steve Edwards)
  • Duel In The Daytime (August 22-23, 1981; at least three pilots, hosted by Peter Tomarken)
  • Hit Man (1983; later adapted in 1989 by TVS for a brief time)
  • Fortune Hunters (August 19, 1983; unsold pilot hosted by Robert "Bob" Hadley)
  • Pie In The Sky (July 22, 1984; unsold pilot hosted by Bob Goen)
  • Fast Friends (November 28, 1984; at least two pilots, hosted by Bob Goen; later adapted in 1990 on BBC 1 with Les Dawson)
  • Trivial Pursuit (1986-87; at least four pilots, hosted by Steve Morris and Linda Marr {although the latter was removed for the '87 attempt}; Wink Martindale would later create his own series based off the game in 1993 for The Family Channel, and 2008 saw the Hasbro-backed Trivial Pursuit: America Plays)
  • Blackout (1988; pilot taped November 8, 1986 with Robb Weller hosting)
  • Skedaddle (1988; part of The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera)
  • Rodeo Drive (1990; began as a 1980 CBS pilot hosted by Peter Tomarken)
  • Wait Til You Have Kids (1996-97)
  • Shopping Spree (1996-98)