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12 Fun Facts About Family Feud

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Created as a spinoff of Match Game, Family Feud got its start in 1976 with Richard Dawson as the first of six hosts—a roster that would later include Ray Combs, Louie Anderson, Richard Karn, John O'Hurley, and current host Steve Harvey. The format is simple: Two teams of families try to come up with the most popular answer to a list of survey questions and bring home a handful of cash. Think you know everything there is to know about the beloved game show? Survey says ...

1. A CONGENIAL HOST IS THE SECRET TO FAMILY FEUD’S SUCCESS.

“In the more game-oriented shows the host is essentially a traffic cop,” TV historian Tim Brooks told The Daily Beast. “On the other hand, someone like Steve Harvey is very involved with the contestants.” However, Family Feud producers attribute the show's longtime high ratings to the more risqué questions.

“A lot of humor has been added in and we’ve added in questions that lean that way,” executive producer Gaby Johnston said. “The material’s a little more—well, not so politically correct, but it’s fun” (which is probably what led to one contestant to answer “gerbil” when asked: What does a doctor pull out of a person?).

2. RICHARD DAWSON SAID HE KISSED THE FEMALE CONTESTANTS TO RELAX THEM.

The 1970s were a different time, as evidenced by the fact that one of original host Richard Dawson’s trademarks was kissing female contestants on the mouth, much to the chagrin of viewers and ABC’s Standards and Practices division. But he claimed there was a certain logic to this signature move.

A few weeks into taping the first season, Dawson noticed a nervous female contestant. The question was: Name a green vegetable. “I got to a lady and I could see her hands just shaking, so I always grabbed a hand and said it’s not open heart surgery,” he told EmmyTVLegends. “She’s still shaking, so I’m going to do something that my mom would do to me whenever I had a problem of any kind. I kissed her on the cheek and I said ‘That’s for luck’ and she said ‘Asparagus.’ It’s like I whispered in her ear, but you can see I didn’t.”

3. NOT ALL VIEWERS WERE A FAN OF DAWSON'S LIBERAL SMOOCHES.

Richard Dawson hosts 'Family Feud'
ABC Television, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Viewers complained about Dawson's wandering lips to the point where he conducted an informal survey, asking viewers to write in saying either yes or no to the kissing. “I don't remember the exact totals,” producer Howard Felsher told The Washington Post in 1978, “but it was something like 14,000 who said ‘kiss’ and 300 or 400 who said ‘don't kiss.’ It was that lopsided.”

4. DAWSON ENDED UP MARRYING A CONTESTANT.

In 1981, one of the contestants Dawson kissed ended up becoming his second wife. He kissed Gretchen Johnson—her family won $12,659—and in 1991 they married.

5. PEOPLE POLLED FOR THE SURVEYS DON’T KNOW IT’S FOR FAMILY FEUD.

The Wall Street Journal looked into how Family Feud's surveys are conducted and discovered that a polling firm named Applied Research-West phones random people to complete the surveys. According to the article, “The surveyors don’t disclose that the questions are for Family Feud. A typical phone survey includes 30 or 40 questions, culled from 100 submitted to [executive-producer] Gaby Johnston daily by writers and consultants for the show. Topical questions may air as soon as three weeks after the survey responses have been collected and compiled.” But the size of that pool can have a large margin of error. In the show’s beginnings, volunteers answered questions through a mailing list. 

6. DAWSON DIDN’T CARE IF FEUD LOST SPONSORS.

One time, a sponsor complained to ABC that Dawson was making too many anti-Richard Nixon jokes. The network told Dawson to stop, but Dawson said on-air that if the sponsor didn’t like the jokes, they could pull out. ABC wanted Dawson’s remark to be edited out, but when Dawson threatened to quit they kept it in. “I know advertisers,” Dawson told The Washington Post. “They’d sponsor Eichmann if he could move Rust-Off, or whatever.”

7. LOUIE ANDERSON HELPED INCREASE THE PRIZE MONEY.

Louie Anderson
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Until 2001, families who won the Fast Money round won only $10,000. But Louie Anderson grew up watching Feud and told The A.V. Club that he understood how viewers "live vicariously" through game shows, and that he wanted to see the winners walk away with even more cash. So in 2001, during his tenure as host, he managed to talk the producers into doubling the prize money to $20,000.

“You’re rooting for those people who are playing, you really are,” he said. “So I feel very proud about my days on the Feud. I took the money and really feel like I talked them into—or had a big part in helping them—make [the grand prize] $20,000 instead of $10,000.”

8. BEING OVER-THE-TOP IS ONE WAY TO GET ON THE SHOW.

On Family Feud’s website, co-executive producer and head of casting Sara Dansby offers some tips for families looking to become contestants on the show. Being energetic is a big thing and “there’s no such thing as too over-the-top,” she wrote. “Pick the most outgoing members of the family when putting together your team. We love loud and energetic contestants.” She also suggests families be confident and just be themselves.

9. STEVE HARVEY HAS HEARD A LOT OF DUMB ANSWERS.

While appearing on Late Night With Seth Meyers, Meyers asked Steve Harvey the dumbest answer he has ever heard to a survey question. “The question was, ‘If a robber breaks into the house, what’s the most unexpected thing he would hate to run into?’ You’re thinking, you know, an owner with a gun. You’re thinking a dog … this country dude goes: ‘A naked grandma!,’” Harvey said. “You just go, ‘What … what did … what … why is that your answer?'”

“Name a word or phrase that begins with pork” is another question that resulted in a dumb answer: “pork-cupine.” “Pork-cupine is not a damn word,” Harvey said.

10. DAWSON PRETENDED THAT THE DUMB ANSWERS "MADE SENSE."

Unlike Harvey, who tends to give a hard time to contestants for their silly answers, Dawson took a different approach. “Everything about the show fit perfectly for me or how I think,” he told EmmyTVLegends. “Usually, I say ‘good answer,’ in a sarcastic way. ‘Name a vegetable you have to peel to eat.’ They’d say grape, and I‘d say ‘good answer.’ Or if I say, ‘the dictator we fought against in World War II’—they’d say Otto Preminger and I’d say ‘the Otto Preminger?’ I’d talk to them like they had made sense.”

11. THE GAME SHOW HAS GONE GLOBAL.

Family Feud has been translated into many different languages and countries. Familetna, Algeria’s version, debuted in 2014. Familien-Duell was Germany’s answer to Family Feud. There have been a lot of Latin America adaptations, including Mexico’s current 100 Mexicanos Dijieron, and ¿Qué Dice La Gente?, which ran from 2006 to 2008. La Guerre des Clans airs in Canada, and until last year, Vietnam ran Chung Sức.

12. DAWSON IMPROVISED HIS ROLE IN THE RUNNING MAN.

In 1987, Dawson played a version of himself in the Arnold Schwarzenegger film The Running Man. In an interview, screenwriter Steven de Souza revealed that Dawson tried to entertain the bored extras. “He would just arbitrarily call somebody in the audience up on the stage and say, 'Where you from?,' but that’s not in the script!” de Souza said. “It’s what he would do in the real TV show.”

Dawson’s off-the-cuff dialogue became problematic, so de Souza had to rework the script. “With Richard Dawson ad libbing on and on, you go, ‘Well, why doesn’t Arnold knock out a guard and take a machine gun? Why does he just stand around like a schmuck while this guy’s rambling on?’ So we had to solve that problem,” de Souza said. “If you scrutinize the movie now, you can see where we skipped over that problem as quickly as possible.”

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20 John Carpenter Quotes About Horror Movies
Amy Sussman/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival
Amy Sussman/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival

Though he’s made a variety of movies—from fantasy to science fiction films—John Carpenter will forever be known as a master of horror, thanks in large part to the role he played in reinventing the genre with 1978’s Halloween. To celebrate the award-winning filmmaker’s 70th birthday, we’ve gathered up 20 of his most memorable quotes about Hollywood.

1. ON THE DEFINITION OF HORROR

“Horror is a reaction; it's not a genre.”

—From a 2015 interview with Interview Magazine

2. ON THE RULES OF MOVIEMAKING

“I think the rules of filmmaking are essentially the same as they were since, I guess, The Birth Of A Nation. The way you make movies: long shot, close-up, camera movement, structure—it’s all the same. Not much has changed. But the technology of movies has vastly changed. From 35mm black-and-white to color, from nitrate film to safety film and now into digital—and yet we’re still breaking scenes into master shots and close-ups. The cinema narrative has not changed that much since the silent film.”

—From a 2015 interview with The A.V. Club

3. ON THE TWO TYPES OF HORROR STORIES

“There are two different stories in horror: internal and external. In external horror films, the evil comes from the outside, the other tribe, this thing in the darkness that we don’t understand. Internal is the human heart.”

—From a 2011 interview with Vulture

4. ON THE IMPORTANCE OF NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD

“One movie that showed me it was possible to make a low-budget horror movie was Night of the Living Dead (1968). When I saw that, I was like, 'Wow, that's really effective, but it's obviously low budget.' They didn't have any money but they actually made something cool. That was inspirational to me when I was in film school.”

—From a 2015 interview with Interview Magazine

5. ON THE TRUTH ABOUT HOLLYWOOD

“Film buffs who don't live in Hollywood have a fantasy about what it's like to be a director. Movies and the people who make movies have such glamor associated with them. But the truth is, it's not like that. It's very different. It's hard work. If you were suddenly catapulted into that situation—without any training—you would say after it was over: 'Oh, God! You're kidding! You mean, this is what it's like? This is what they put you through?' Yes, as a matter of fact, it is like this—and it's often worse. People have tried to describe the film business, but it's impossible to describe because it's so crazy. You must know your craft inside out and then pick up the rules as you go along.”

—From an essay for Santa Fe Studios

6. ON THE HORROR OF WATCHING HIS OWN MOVIES

“I don't watch my films. I've seen 'em enough after cutting them and putting the music on. I don't ever want to see them again.”

—From a 2012 interview with Entertainment Weekly

7. ON THE EMOTIONAL TOLL MAKING MOVIES CAN TAKE ON A DIRECTOR

“I’ve been feeling old for years and years, and I think the movie business did it to me. At one point I just did movie after movie, and it starts tearing you down physically—emotionally too, if you do one after another. The stress, the emotional exertion of dealing with others. I’ve worked with really great actors and really difficult actors. The difficult ones are no fun. And the style of the movies today have changed a great deal. To me, I’m not a big fan of handheld. That’s just my tastes. That’s a quick fix for low budget. Let the operator direct it! Walk around. That’s how you burn through the pages. And found footage—how many times do we need to do that?”

—From a 2014 interview with Deadline

8. ON WHAT MAKES A GOOD HORROR FILM

“There’s a very specific secret: It should be scary.”

—From a 2015 interview with The A.V. Club

9. ON THE PERCEPTION OF A MOVIEMAKER

“In England, I'm a horror movie director. In Germany, I'm a filmmaker. In the U.S., I'm a bum.”

—From The Films of John Carpenter

10. ON STANDING OUT

“I don't want to be in the mainstream. I don't want to be a part of the demographics. I want to be an individual. I wear each of my films as a badge of pride. That's why I cherish all my bad reviews. If the critics start liking my movies, then I'm in deep trouble.”

—From an essay for Santa Fe Studios

11. ON MAINTAINING CONTROL

“My years in the business have taught me not to worry about what you can’t control.”

—From a 2007 interview with MovieMaker Magazine

12. ON HIS FAVORITE MOVIES

“I have two different categories of favorite films. One is the emotional favorites, which means these are generally films that I saw when I was a kid; anything you see in your formative years is more powerful, because it really stays with you forever. The second category is films that I saw while I was learning the craft of motion pictures.”

—From a 2011 interview with Rotten Tomatoes

13. ON BEING STUCK IN THE 1980S

“Well, They Live was a primal scream against Reaganism of the '80s. And the '80s never went away. They're still with us. That's what makes They Live look so fresh—it's a document of greed and insanity. It's about life in the United States then and now. If anything, things have gotten worse.”

—From a 2012 interview with Entertainment Weekly

14. ON THE IMPORTANCE OF INSTINCT

“I think every director depends primarily on his instincts. That’s what’s got him where he is, what’s going to carry him through the good times and the bad. I generally go with what I instinctually think I can do well.”

—From a 2011 interview with Vulture

15. ON BEING TYPECAST AS A DIRECTOR

“I haven't just made horror. I've made all sorts of movies. There have been fantasy movies, thrillers, horrors, science fiction. In terms of the ultimate reward, listen, man, when I was a kid, when I was 8 years old, I wanted to be a movie director, and I got to be a movie director. I lived my f*cking dream, you can't get better than that. That's the ultimate.”

—From a 2015 interview with Interview Magazine

16. ON THE REALITY OF MONSTERS

“Monsters in movies are us, always us, one way or the other. They’re us with hats on. The zombies in George Romero’s movies are us. They’re hungry. Monsters are us, the dangerous parts of us. The part that wants to destroy; the part of us with the reptile brain. The part of us that’s vicious and cruel. We express these in our stories as these monsters out there.”

—From a 2011 interview with the Buenos Aires Herald

17. ON MOVIES AS A SENSORY EXPERIENCE

“A movie’s not just the pictures. It’s the story and it’s the perspective and it’s the tempo and it’s the silence and it’s the music—it’s all the stuff that’s going on. All the sensory stuff. Sometimes you can get a lot of suspense going in a non-horror film. It all depends. But, look, if there was one secret way of doing a horror movie then everybody would be doing it.”

—From a 2015 interview with The A.V. Club

18. ON THE UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE OF HORROR

"Horror is a universal language; we're all afraid. We're born afraid, we're all afraid of things: death, disfigurement, loss of a loved one. Everything that I'm afraid of, you're afraid of and vice versa. So everybody feels fear and suspense. We were little kids once and so it's taking that basic human condition and emotion and just f*cking with it and playing with it. You can invent new horrors."

—From a 2015 interview with Interview Magazine

19. ON THE REMAKE TREND

“It’s a brand new world out there in terms of trying to get advertising. There’s so much going on that if you come up with a movie that people have never heard of they don’t pay attention to it—no matter how good it is. So it becomes, 'Let’s remake something that maybe rings a bell and that you’ve heard of before.' That way, you’re already ahead. I’m flattered, but I understand what’s going on. They’re picking everything to remake. I think they’ve just run down the list of other titles and have finally got to mine.”

—From a 2007 interview with MovieMaker Magazine

20. ON THE LASTING INFLUENCE OF HALLOWEEN

“I didn’t think there was any more story [to Halloween], and I didn’t want to do it again. All of my ideas were for the first Halloween—there shouldn’t have been any more! I’m flattered by the fact that people want to remake them, but they remake everything these days, so it doesn’t make me that special. But Michael Myers was an absence of character. And yet all the sequels are trying to explain that. That’s silliness—it just misses the whole point of the first movie, to me. He’s part person, part supernatural force. The sequels rooted around in motivation. I thought that was a mistake. However, I couldn’t stop them from making sequels. So my agents said, ‘Why don’t you become an executive producer and you can share the revenue?’ But I had to write the second movie, and every night I sat there and wrote with a six-pack of beer trying to get through this thing. And I didn’t do a very good job, but that was it. I couldn’t do any more."

—From a 2014 interview with Deadline

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15 Surprising Facts About Half Baked
Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

You may have known these facts about Half Baked—Tamra Davis's stoner comedy starring Dave Chappelle, Guillermo Díaz, and Jim Breuer—at one point. But it’s easy to see how the film, which was released 20 years ago, could make viewers a little forgetful.

1. THE SCRIPT WAS A TEAM EFFORT.

Half Baked was written by star Dave Chappelle and his writing partner Neal Brennan. Five years later, the duo would go on to co-create Chappelle’s Show for Comedy Central. (Brennan even has a cameo in Half Baked as the cashier at the burger joint where Scarface works.)

2. NEW YORK CITY WAS A KEY INSPIRATION.

Chappelle was inspired to write Half Baked after a friend told him about New York City drug dealers who conveniently deliver illicit substances to customers’ apartments.

3. THE OPENING SCENE WAS A RISK FOR THE STUDIO.

The studio originally wanted to cut the opening scene showing kids smoking marijuana and getting the munchies, but decided to keep it after audiences at test screenings found it hilarious.

4. DIRECTING IT WAS A NO-BRAINER FOR TAMRA DAVIS.

Tamra Davis
Francois Durand/Getty Images

It's a good thing that opening scene stayed in, as it's what sold Tamra Davis on the project. In fact, she only read 10 pages of Chappelle and Brennan’s script before accepting the directing job.

"The reason why I wanted to do this movie was because the opening scene is so funny," she told Mass Appeal in 2017. "And they were like, 'No, it sends a bad message, kids smoking pot.' I was like, 'Can I screen the movie? Nobody’s ever seen this movie, can we look at it first and see how the movie plays before you guys start giving me cuts?'"

5. THE FILM HAS A MUSIC VIDEO PEDIGREE.

Davis is also humorously listed as the director of Sir Smoka Lot’s “Samson Gets Me Lifted” music video in the film. Prior to directing feature films like Half Baked and Billy Madison, Davis directed more than 30 actual music videos, including Tone Lōc’s “Wild Thing” and Hanson’s “MMMBop.”

6. MOST OF "NEW YORK" IS REALLY TORONTO.

The film was shot over 40 days, primarily in Toronto. Three days of exterior shooting were done in New York to feature landmarks like Washington Square Park.

7. PRODUCERS PULLED OUT ALL THE STOPS ON CAMEOS.

Tracy Morgan makes a cameo as the VJ who introduces Sir Smoka Lot’s music video. Other cameos in the film include Jon Stewart, Tommy Chong, Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg, Janeane Garofalo, and Bob Saget.

8. THERE WAS A REAL GUY ON THE COUCH.

The Guy on the Couch was inspired by a friend of Chappelle’s who constantly crashed on Chappelle’s couch while he and Brennan toiled away at writing the screenplay. In the film, the role of the Guy went to comedian Steven Wright.

9. THE BEASTIE BOYS INSPIRED THE FILM'S DESIGN.

Davis drew inspiration of the prop and color design of the guys’ apartment from the Beastie Boys’ Grand Royal Recording Studios. The connection makes sense, as Davis was married to Mike D of the Beastie Boys.

10. THE PRISON HAD VERY CLEAN WATER.

The exterior of the prison where Kenny is locked up is actually the R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant in Toronto. (The same facility played the role of Elsinore Brewery in 1983's Strange Brew.)  Some prison interiors, including the cafeteria scenes, where shot in an actual prison.

11. THE DIRECTOR HAS A TINY CAMEO.

All the acting with Killer’s fake dog paws was done on-set by Davis.

12. THE CAST GOT GREAT SOUVENIRS.

Many members of the cast and crew kept blocks of the fake medicinal marijuana as a joke after production wrapped.

13. NO, THAT'S NOT JERRY GARCIA.

Despite rumors to the contrary, Jerry Garcia did not appear in Half Baked. Garcia is played by impersonator David Bluestein.

14. ALL THAT "POT" WAS TOBACCO.

The actors smoked a tobacco-based substitute to stand in for marijuana in the film (though there are some rumors that the scene featuring Snoop Dogg featured real marijuana).

15. IT ALMOST HAD A DARKER ENDING.

The original ending of the movie was supposed to be much darker. In it, Thurgood abandoned his girlfriend Mary Jane and jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge after the joint he threw away.

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