Harry Friedman

Producer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his two-and-a-half hour Archive interview, Harry Friedman recalls his early life in Omaha, Nebraska, where his father was the first television repairman in town and Johnny Carson was the local television star. He describes his early career path and how he came to be a writer on The Hollywood Squares in the 1970s. He talks about producing the late '80s version of the show that featured Joan Rivers as the center square. Friedman speaks in great detail about his long association with the game shows Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!, which he began producing in the mid-'90s. For Wheel of Fortune he talks about changes made to the game play through the years, such as the addition of the "Jackpot Round" and the "Mystery Round" as well as the "Wheel Watchers Club."  For Jeopardy!, he recounts the winning streak of Ken Jennings. He also outlines what make Pat Sajak, Vanna White, and Alex Trebek successful on-screen personalities. Karen Herman conducted the interview on October 10, 2007 on the Sony Pictures Studios lot in Culver City, California.

"I don't think you can train someone to be a game show host. it's a certain trait that either you have or you don't. Are hosts born or are they made? I think they're born."

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Harry Friedman on writing for the celebrities on Hollywood Squares
Harry Friedman on Pat Sajak as host of Wheel of Fortune
Harry Friedman on Vanna White's wardrobe on Wheel of Fortune
Harry Friedman on the Jeopardy!  think music
Harry Friedman on repealing the five show limit on Jeopardy!  and record breaking contestant Ken Jennings
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on Johnny Carson's early television career; on television he watched growing up
On moving to Los Angeles and becoming a writer for Hollywood Squares; on the premise and rules for Hollywood Squares; on working with the celebrities on the show
On what he learned from Hollywood Squares; on Hollywood Squares host Peter Marshall; on becoming a producer on the show

Chapter 2

On the end of Hollywood Squares; on his post-Hollywood Squares projects; on the 1986 revival of Hollywood Squares
On coming to produce Wheel of Fortune; on changes he brought to Wheel of Fortune; on his relationship with Wheel of Fortune creator Merv Griffin; on changing the puzzle board on the show
On adding elements to Wheel of Fortune; on the Wheel of Fortune set; on the prizes on the show

Chapter 3

On Pat Sajak and Vanna White on Wheel of Fortune; on Wheel of Fortune announcer Charlie O'Donnell
On the contestants of Wheel of Fortune; on Wheel of Fortune's trips and theme weeks; on Wheel of Fortune's ratings and affiliates; on how emerging technologies have affected the show

Chapter 4

On Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! switching to high definition; on the then-future of Wheel of Fortune; on taking over as producer of Jeopardy!; on Alex Trebek as host of Jeopardy!
On the questions and studio audience of Jeopardy!; on the contestants of Jeopardy!; on the Jeopardy! brand; on the then-future of Jeopardy!

Chapter 5

On the legacy of Jeopardy!; on reconfiguring the Jeopardy! set for HD; on the linkage and international appeal of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!
On his professional achievements and regrets; on winning Emmy Awards for Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!; on advice to aspiring game show producers and hosts and how he'd like to be remembered
Shows

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

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Harry Friedman on winning Emmy Awards for Wheel of Fortune  and Jeopardy!

Hollywood Squares, The

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Harry Friedman on moving to Los Angeles and being hired to write for Hollywood Squares
Harry Friedman on the premise and rules of Hollywood Squares
Harry Friedman on writing for the celebrities on Hollywood Squares
Harry Friedman on what he learned from working on Hollywood Squares
Harry Friedman on working with Hollywood Squares host Peter Marshall
Harry Friedman on becoming a producer at Hollywood Squares
Harry Friedman on the end of Hollywood Squares
Harry Friedman on producing the 1986 revival of Hollywood Squares

Jeopardy!

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Harry Friedman on Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! switching to high definition 
Harry Friedman on taking over producer duties for Jeopardy!
Harry Friedman on Alex Trebek as host of Jeopardy!
Harry Friedman on the audience demographics of Jeopardy! and the show attracting more women
Harry Friedman on the questions of Jeopardy!
Harry Friedman on the Jeopardy! studio audience
Harry Friedman on the contestants of Jeopardy!
Harry Friedman on repealing the five show limit on Jeopardy! and record breaking contestant Ken Jennings
Harry Friedman on the practices and procedures of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! regarding contestants
Harry Friedman on Jeopardy!'s "Clue Crew"
Harry Friedman on the Jeopardy! brand
Harry Friedman on the Jeopardy! think music
Harry Friedman on "Rock & Roll" Jeopardy!
Harry Friedman on the then-future of Jeopardy!
Harry Friedman on the legacy of Jeopardy!
Harry Friedman on reconfiguring the Jeopardy! set for HD
Harry Friedman on the linkage of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!
Harry Friedman on the international appeal of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!
Harry Friedman on Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!'s distributor King Word/CBS Television Distribution

Wheel of Fortune

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Harry Friedman on how he came to produce Wheel of Fortune
Harry Friedman on the changes he brought to Wheel of Fortune as producer
Harry Friedman on his relationship with Wheel of Fortune creator Merv Griffin 
Harry Friedman on changing the puzzle board for Wheel of Fortune
Harry Friedman on the budget for Wheel of Fortune
Harry Friedman on adding elements to the wheel on Wheel of Fortune and the bonus round
Harry Friedman on the Wheel of Fortune puzzles
Harry Friedman on the Wheel of Fortune set
Harry Friedman on the Wheel of Fortune prizes
Harry Friedman on Pat Sajak as host of Wheel of Fortune
Harry Friedman on Vanna White on Wheel of Fortune
Harry Friedman on Vanna White's wardrobe on Wheel of Fortune
Harry Friedman on the chemistry between Pat Sajak and Vanna White on Wheel of Fortune
Harry Friedman on Wheel of Fortune announcer Charlie O'Donnell
Harry Friedman on the contestants of Wheel of Fortune
Harry Friedman on taking Wheel of Fortune on the road
Harry Friedman on Wheel of Fortune's "Wheel Mobile" 
Harry Friedman on Wheel of Fortune's theme weeks
Harry Friedman on Wheel of Fortune's ratings 
Harry Friedman on Wheel of Fortune's affiliates 
Harry Friedman on how emerging technologies have affected Wheel of Fortune
Harry Friedman on Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! switching to high definition 
Harry Friedman on the then-future of Wheel of Fortune 
Harry Friedman on his function on the set of Wheel of Fortune
Harry Friedman on the practices and procedures of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!  regarding contestants
Harry Friedman on the linkage of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!
Harry Friedman on the international appeal of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!
Harry Friedman on Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!'s distributor King Word/CBS Television Distribution
Topics

Advice

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Harry Friedman on advice to an aspiring producer
Harry Friedman on advice to an aspiring game show host

Emmy Awards

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Harry Friedman on winning Emmy Awards for Wheel of Fortune  and Jeopardy!

First Big Break

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Harry Friedman on moving to Los Angeles and being hired to write for Hollywood Squares

Pivotal Career Moments

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Harry Friedman on moving to Los Angeles and being hired to write for Hollywood Squares

Technological Innovation

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Harry Friedman on how emerging technologies have affected Wheel of Fortune
Harry Friedman on Wheel of Fortune  and Jeopardy!  switching to high definition 

Television Industry

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Harry Friedman on advice to an aspiring producer
Harry Friedman on advice to an aspiring game show host
Harry Friedman on how television has changed over the years
Professions

Game Show Host

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Harry Friedman on advice to an aspiring game show host

Hosts

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Harry Friedman on advice to an aspiring game show host

Producers

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Harry Friedman on advice to an aspiring producer
Genres

Game Shows

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Harry Friedman on writing and producing Hollywood Squares (Part 1)
Harry Friedman on writing and producing Hollywood Squares (Part 2)
Harry Friedman on writing and producing Wheel of Fortune (Part 1)
Harry Friedman on producing Wheel of Fortune (Part 2)
Harry Friedman on producing Wheel of Fortune (Part 3)
Harry Friedman on producing Jeopardy! (Part 1)
Harry Friedman on producing Jeopardy! (Part 3)
People

Stephen J. Cannell

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Harry Friedman on developing shows for Stephen J. Cannell

Johnny Carson

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Harry Friedman on Johnny Carson's local television show in Omaha, Nebraska 

Merv Griffin

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Harry Friedman on his relationship with Wheel of Fortune  creator Merv Griffin 

Ken Jennings

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Harry Friedman on repealing the five show limit on Jeopardy! and record breaking contestant Ken Jennings

Paul Lynde

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Harry Friedman on writing for the celebrities on Hollywood Squares

Peter Marshall

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Harry Friedman on working with Hollywood Squares host Peter Marshall

Charlie O'Donnell

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Harry Friedman on Wheel of Fortune announcer Charlie O'Donnell

Pat Sajak

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Harry Friedman on Pat Sajak as host of Wheel of Fortune
Harry Friedman on the chemistry between Pat Sajak and Vanna White on Wheel of Fortune

George C. Scott

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Harry Friedman on writing for the celebrities on Hollywood Squares

Alex Trebek

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Harry Friedman on Alex Trebek as host of Jeopardy!

Vanna White

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Harry Friedman on Vanna White on Wheel of Fortune
Harry Friedman on Vanna White's wardrobe on Wheel of Fortune
Harry Friedman on the chemistry between Pat Sajak and Vanna White on Wheel of Fortune

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