12 Fun Facts About Family Feud

Game Show Network LLC
Game Show Network LLC

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.”

Pod Search, a Search Engine for Podcasts, Can Help You Find Your Next Binge-Listen

Milkos/iStock via Getty Images
Milkos/iStock via Getty Images

Having too many options definitely seems like the best problem to have when it comes to picking your next top podcast obsession, but that doesn’t make it any less overwhelming. To streamline the hunt, try Pod Search—a website and mobile app that has all the information you need in order to choose a winner.

As Lifehacker reports, the user-friendly site is organized in several different ways, depending on how you’d like to operate your search. You can browse its list of about 30 categories, which range from “Storytelling” to “Crime & Law,” and each has a set of subcategories so you can get even more specific. If you trust the opinions of the general public, you can choose an already-popular podcast from the “Top Podcasts” tab. Or, if you like to be the first to recommend the next big thing to your friends, you can pick a program from the list of new podcasts.

Pod Search also has a handy tool called MyPodSearch which will pretty much do all the work of choosing the perfect podcast for you. All you have to do is check whichever categories interest you and add any additional keywords you’d like (which is optional), and MyPodSearch will deliver a list of podcasts personalized for your tastes. This is great for people who have wide-ranging interests, a proclivity for indecision, or both.

Each podcast has its own landing page with a description, audio samples, places you can listen, website and social media links for the podcast, and a list of other podcasts from the same producers. You can also create an account and bookmark podcasts for the future—so, hypothetically, you could have MyPodSearch create a personalized list for you, bookmark them all, and then have a binge-listening itinerary that’ll last you until next year.

[h/t Lifehacker]

8 Fun Facts About Muppet Babies

The Jim Henson Company
The Jim Henson Company

Before prequels were a thing, Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies imagined a world in which the felt-covered characters of Henson’s Muppets franchise—Kermit, Miss Piggy, Animal, and Fozzie Bear among them—met up as children in a nursery. Left to their own devices, the animated cast led a rich fantasy life while in diapers. For more on this 1984-1991 show, including why it’s so hard to find anywhere except YouTube, keep reading.

1. Frank Oz didn’t really want Muppet Babies.

The idea to infantilize the Muppets came from Michael Frith, a longtime collaborator of Jim Henson’s, in the early 1980s. Frith believed that regressing the characters could allow them to impart moral or educational messages to children already familiar with them. But Frank Oz, a Muppets performer (Miss Piggy) and film director, argued that the Muppets needed to maintain their subversive edge. It was Henson who found a compromise, suggesting that younger versions of the characters appear in a dream sequence for 1984’s feature film The Muppets Take Manhattan. The response to the scene was overwhelmingly positive, and Henson soon teamed with Marvel Productions and CBS for an animated series that began airing in September 1984.

2. Skeeter was the result of a gender imbalance on Muppet Babies.

Most of the principal Muppet Babies cast was made up of recognizable characters, including Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Rowlf, Gonzo, Animal, Bunsen, and Scooter. But Frith, Henson, and producers Bob Richardson and Hank Saroyan decided that the babies were skewing a little too male. Aside from Piggy and their caretaker, Nanny, there were no female characters. To balance the scales, they introduced Skeeter, Scooter’s twin sister, a brainy problem-solver.

Skeeter has made only fleeting and sporadic appearances in the Muppet franchise since, leading to speculation she might be caught up in rights issues between CBS and the Jim Henson Company, which was purchased by Disney in 2004. Fortunately, the somewhat murky situation appears to be at least partially resolved: It was recently reported Skeeter will resurface in the new computer-animated iteration of Muppet Babies, which is currently airing its second season on Disney Junior and has been renewed for a third season.

3. One of the major creative forces behind Muppet Babies was Moe Howard’s grandson.

In 1985, Muppet Babies writer Jeffrey Scott received a Humanitas Prize from the Human Family Educational and Cultural Institute for an episode of the series which the Institute declared did the best job of any kid’s show that year to “enrich the viewing public.” The episode centered on the group fearing one of them might be sent away. The prolific Scott actually wrote all 13 episodes of the first season. His father, Norman Maurer, worked at Hanna-Barbera Productions and got Scott’s foot in the door. His grandfather was Moe Howard, founder and head Stooge of The Three Stooges fame.

4. The Muppet Babies live-action segments were a result of budgetary constraints.

A hallmark of Muppet Babies is when the cast finds themselves thrust into scenes from famous films, a Walter Mitty-esque bit of fantasy fulfillment that blends live-action sequences with animation. According to Frith, devoting a portion of each episode to clips wasn’t entirely a creative choice. By inserting clips, producers could save money on animation. It was also easy for Henson to secure the rights to popular films like Star Wars or Raiders of the Lost Ark because he was friends with George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. While some believe those clips are the reason the show isn’t available to stream—sifting through the legal entanglement of reairing the segments might prove costly—that’s never been confirmed.

5. Muppet Babies never explained what the Muppets were doing in that nursery.

Given time to reflect, it seems odd that the Muppet cast would find themselves in a nursery without being supervised by their own parents. Speaking with the Detroit Free Press in 1987, Michael Frith said that the situation was purposely left vague. “I really appreciate the fact that they don’t [ask],” Frith said of his kid viewers. “Is this a day care center? Is this a foster child home? The more we talked about it, the more we felt it should just exist. The kids accept it.”

6. The voice recording sessions of Muppet Babies included copious farting.

Speaking with CNN in 2011, actor Dave Coulier (Full House) recalled that recording sessions for Muppet Babies sometimes involved flatulence. Coulier, who portrayed Animal and Bunsen, among others, said that “lots of fart humor” punctuated the recording studio. “In one scene, Fozzie [played by Greg Berg] and Animal had to climb a ladder,” he said. “As Animal was pushing Fozzie up the ladder, they were making [grunting] sounds. In mid-scene, Greg Berg farted. I looked at [actor] Frank Welker and we couldn’t contain ourselves. Uncontrollable laughter ensued. I was literally on the floor of the studio laughing.”

7. There was an offshoot of Muppet Babies called Muppet Monsters—and it never aired in full.

Following the success of Muppet Babies, CBS and Jim Henson decided to expand on the Muppets' potential as Saturday morning stars by creating a 90-minute block in 1985 titled Muppets, Babies, and Monsters. (Muppet Babies often aired consecutive half-hour installments for an hour total.) In addition to regular Muppet Babies episodes, the program featured another half-hour of Little Muppet Monsters, which featured puppets of new Muppet monster characters named Tug, Molly, and Boo. The three appeared in a framing device that introduced animated segments of adult Muppets. Only three episodes aired out of 15 produced, reportedly due to both Henson and CBS being unhappy with the finished product and Muppet Babies standing strongly on its own. The remaining episodes have yet to see the light of day.

8. Muppet Babies was turned into a live stage show.

To further incite their juvenile audience and monetize their popularity, the Muppet Babies franchise eventually wound up live and on stage. Muppet Babies Live! debuted in 1986 and featured performers in oversized costumes dancing and acting to a prerecorded track. In one skit, the cast appeared in a Snow White homage. In another, Rowlf became Rowlfgang Amagodus Mozart and played the piano. The arena show toured the country. Hank Saroyan, one of the animated show’s producers, wrote the stage show. The performer for Baby Piggy, Elizabeth Figols, also appeared in a live production of Dirty Dancing. The show ran through 1990.

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