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Pat Sajak, Wheel of Fortune Host.
A Pat was born in Chicago, Illinois on October 26, 1946. He spent all of his young life in that city, attending both Goethe and Gary Elementary Schools, Farragut High School and Columbia College. He was the oldest of three brothers, and he remains so today, except even older. His first chance to broadcast came in 1965 when his name was drawn on WLS Radio’s “Dick Biondi Show” to be a “Guest Teen Deejay.” Biondi was ill the night Pat was to appear, so he went on with Dick’s replacement, Art Roberts, for a full hour that Saturday night, reading commercials, announcing records and trying to sound professional. He was hooked. While attending Columbia College in Chicago, (and working nights as a desk clerk at the Palmer House Hotel) one of Pat’s broadcasting instructors, a local announcer named Al Parker (who passed away recently after an incredible 50-plus years at Columbia) told him that they might be looking for an newsman at a little local radio station called WEDC. Pat went in, read a few things for the Program Director, and was hired to work from midnight until 6 a.m. doing an hourly five-minute “rip and read” newscast (you ripped it off the newswires and read it as was)
n 1968, Pat left Columbia after only three years, joined the U.S. Army, and was promptly sent to Vietnam. After a few months as a finance clerk, he was transferred into Armed Forces Radio and given the morning show on AFVN in Saigon where he yelled, “Good Morning, Vietnam!” for a year and a half. He finished his military career at the Pentagon in 1970.After his discharge in late 1970, Pat stayed in Washington trying to find radio or TV work. With no success on the broadcasting front, he again found himself working as a desk clerk, this time at the Madison Hotel in downtown D.C. Finally, a friend told him that he knew someone who owned a radio station in Murray, Kentucky, and maybe he would hire Pat.So, in 1971, he became the nighttime disc jockey at a 250-watt station in Southeastern Kentucky. It took about a year for this 25-year-old to look around and come to the conclusion that his career was not exactly “taking off”. So he packed up his belongings and headed to the nearest big city, which happened to be Nashville, Tennessee.
Despite interviewing at virtually every radio and television station in town, Pat found himself (again!) as a desk clerk at a local motel. He continued to visit the local broadcasting outlets and was finally hired by the local NBC television affiliate, WSM.
He spent five years at Channel 4 as everything from an anonymous staff announcer to a talk-show host, to a disc jockey at their sister radio station, but it was as a weatherman that Pat was getting the most on-air exposure.
In Los Angeles, KNBC-TV was looking for a weatherman in 1977, and they spotted Pat in Nashville and hired him to be their full-time weatherman. He worked both the early and late newscasts, as well as a local weekend talk show called “The Sunday Show”. One of those who sat home and watched was Merv Griffin. He called in 1981 and asked whether Pat would be interested in taking over for Chuck Woolery, who was leaving “Wheel of Fortune” a daytime game show on NBC, after seven years as host.
While Pat had done a few other game show pilots, most notably for Ralph Edwards and Mark Goodson, he never felt completely comfortable in the role. Assuming that “Wheel” probably had a year or two left in it, he agreed to step in. His assessment of its longevity proved to be off by a couple of decades. The nighttime version of the show went on the air in September 1983, and it has been the Number One program in syndicated television ever since.
In 1989, Pat began doing a late-night talk show on CBS. While it ran less than a year and a half, he calls it the most enjoyable 18 months of his career. It was during the run of that show that he met Lesly Brown, who became his wife on New Year’s Eve of 1989. They have two children.
Pat has three Emmys, a Peoples’ Choice Award and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
I Am Become TV, the Destroyer of Worlds
One show that always makes me want to rescind my membership in the human race is Wheel of Fortune. What makes me cringe is not the desperate look in Pat Sajak’s eyes nor Vanna White’s reanimated corpse, revealing the letters in a way designed to keep her toothpick-like appendages from snapping. What gets me is the unfettered glimpse at the human mind struggling to assemble _ _ F - R _ _ D into the phrase OFF-ROAD. “Is it OWF-ROOD? BOF-ROAD? OAF-READ?”
I have a theory that game-show hosts have to strangle a puppy every now and again simply to reassert their place in the food chain. You can see this glimmer of hate in Alex Trebek’s eye during the “getting to know you” segment of Jeopardy!
“So, Rick, I hear you do some sort of crafts with old computer monitors.”
“Well, yes, Alex, what I do is I hollow them out and then create dioramas based on the novels of Harry Turtledove.”
“That sure is something. Our second contestant is Cindy from Weehawken. It says here, Cindy, that you once met Dom DeLuise on a Carnival Cruise.”
These programs suck, but it would be pure folly to place the blame on the shoulders of the hosts. It’s one thing for Oprah to do a show about women who have gotten their heads caught in ATM machines or to plug next week’s interview with Julia Roberts’ uterus. But it’s another thing entirely to watch homunculi buy vowels they don’t need or fuck up questions about “THINGS THAT END IN –ING.” Game-show hosts are dangerous creatures. Boredom has made them so. Personally, I can’t imagine any kind of reality where Alex Trebek does not feast on a live human heart before every show, and where Pat Sajak cannot face the cameras until he’s held one of his fists above the burner of a stove—Taxi Driver–style—before taping a hunting knife to his ankle.
Personally, I can’t imagine any kind of reality where Alex Trebek does not feast on a live human heart before every show, and where Pat Sajak cannot face the cameras until he’s held one of his fists above the burner of a stove—Taxi Driver–style—before taping a hunting knife to his ankle.
Imagine that you’re Alex Trebek or Pat Sajak for a moment. You’re not merely a living conduit between the TV and the audience; you are the TV. It’s the same for Mary Hart or for Regis Philbin and his Kathy Lee upgrade. People like them don’t even need a TiVo to be plugged into TV World. And TV World used to be a wonderful place, populated by Gilligan, Colonel Robert Hogan and Mr. Hooper. Didn’t it?
That’s how I remember it—or choose to remember it, since this description’s hardly true at all. While Gilligan’s antics were keeping the castaways on the island, Bob “Hogan” Crane was filming sexy movies with Willem Dafoe. And Mr. Hooper is dead. They’ve since been replaced by nimrods on reality shows and overweight men married to attractive wives, waiting for the audience to laugh in the right places. There was a time when the TV felt like a window into a fantastic world where you could escape, forgetting bits of your life one program at a time. It is this precise brand of pop nostalgia that inspired the cable network named, predictably, TV Land.
The characters that populate TV World nowadays are less than inspiring. You’ve got screaming idiots on the twenty-four-hour news channels who are looking out for you while shovelling horseshit down your throat. Then there are the super nannies brought in to correct the mistakes of parents more interested in being on TV than in raising their children; rock stars who pretend to be punk because it’s marketable; vile heiresses making fun of poor people; cartoon cretins spouting pop-culture references; failed comedians watching brain donors scarf down unattractive animal parts; an entire town of people remodelled to fit the whim of one celebrity designer; and all manner of vampires, demons, paranormal detectives and Joan Rivers offspring. TV World kinda sucks.
Pat Sajak writes about ''nutty times''
If game-show hosts can write compelling op-ed pieces, perhaps the popular culture isn't heading Hellward. In the latest Human Events, a conservative journal, longtime "Wheel of Fortune" host Pat Sajak muses on the reasons why the nominally liberal Hollywood establishment hasn't raised a ruckus over the recent brutal murder - allegedly by an Islamic radical - of Dutch documentarian Theo van Gogh. In a short film, van Gogh criticized the treatment of women in Moslem countries - and ended up getting shot and stabbed Nov. 2 on an Amsterdam street. And why is Hollywood silent? "Could the level of hatred for this President be so great that some people are against anything he is for, and for anything he is against?" asks Sajak, a registered Republican. "[I]t's a nutty-sounding explanation, but we live in nutty times."
Pat Sajak has been hosting ''Wheel of Fortune'' since 1981
Wheel of Fortune, created by Merv Griffin, began as a daytime show on NBC in 1975, starring Chuck Woolery and Susan Stafford. As many of you probably remember, contestants didn’t win the cash they amassed; rather, they won the right to shop with that cash. (The original pilot episode, in fact, was called Shoppers’ Bazaar and was hosted by Ed “Kookie” Byrnes.) The studio was—as Charlie O’Donnell or Jack Clark would say—“filled with fabulous prizes” from cars to furniture to ceramic Dalmatians.
For a short time during its daytime run, Wheel expanded to an hour, but, for the most part, it stayed pretty much the same—a successful half-hour daytime game show. In 1981, Chuck Woolery left the show, and Merv hired the local KNBC weather guy. That was me. Or is it I? In any event, I joined the show officially on Monday morning, December 28, 1981.
Susan Stafford left the show about a year later, and Vanna White came aboard in December 1982. Merv joined forces with King World Productions to syndicate a nighttime version in the fall of 1983. When we premiered in September 1983, we had been sold in 32 markets (not many), and that did not include New York or Los Angeles (not good). But the show performed so well on the stations that did carry us, that we were on the air virtually everywhere in a few short months, and we became the number one show in syndication by May 1984. And, I’m happy to report that we have been number one for every ratings period since then
left the daytime show in late 1988, and was replaced by former football player Rolf Bernischke, but NBC dropped the show in the summer of 1989. A few weeks later, the show moved to CBS with Bob Goen of Entertainment Tonight as the host. In 1991, CBS canceled Wheel, but NBC picked it up again for a few months. Finally, in September 1991, the daytime version of the show went away for good.
The biggest format changes over the years were the addition of a bonus game and the elimination of the shopping. A bonus round was used sporadically in the early 80’s, but became a permanent part of the show when it entered syndication. Shopping ended in 1987, and we waved a tearful good-bye to the ceramic Dalmatian.
Charlie O’Donnell was the original announcer on the show, but left before I arrived. I worked with his replacement, Jack Clark, for several years. Sadly, Jack became ill and passed away. “Machine Gun” Kelly spent a few months as our announcer until we were able to get Charlie back, and he’s been part of the family ever since.
There have been other changes over the years. When players kept picking the same letters in the bonus round, we changed it to allow us to simply give them the R, S, T, L, N and E. You used to pick the bonus prize you wanted to play for; now those prizes are chosen by a spin of our Bonus Wheel.
A player used to be able to stay for three days. We used to bring the top three winners of the week back on Friday. Vanna used to turn letters; she merely touches them now. The set has changed. Categories have been added and deleted (who can forget “Megaword”). Prize values and dollar amounts on the Wheel have grown. We’ve added Toss-Up puzzles, a Mystery Round, and a chance to win $100,000. But through it all, you’ve kept watching and kept us Number One. And for that, we’re all very grateful.
Pat Sajak's new company "Bojak Records"
Bojak Records is a label started by me and my partner, Bob Burton. Our first release is Jude Johnstone’s Coming of Age. Jude is one of the finest singer-songwriters in America. She’s written for the likes of Trisha Yearwood, Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Nicks, Bette Midler and Johnny Cash.
On this CD, Jude records her own songs with a little help from Trisha and Bonnie, along with Jennifer Warnes and Jackson Browne. It really is an amazing collection of heart-felt lyrics, beautiful music, and moving performances.
The CD has received rave reviews and is available through most major retail outlets. You can also listen to portions of it (and, by the way, purchase it) at http://www.bojakrecords.com
P.A.T. Is Pat Sajak's books and games production company
P.A.T. Productions is Pat Sajak’s production company, located at Sony Studios in Culver City, California. Among its projects is a series of video adaptations of classic children’s books done in association with Weston Woods, a division of Scholastic Productions.
The company has also licensed international versions of several game shows, including "Run for the Money" and "Blackjack Bowling"
In addition, P.A.T. has co-produced (along with RC Entertainment) two Travel Channel shows called, "Pat Sajak's American League Ballpark Tour" and "Pat Sajak's National Laegue Ballpark Tour".