‘The Price is Right’ is headed for a new home after spending more than 50 years at the former CBS Television City in Hollywood.
Carol Burnett once called it the best studio in town. CBS renamed it the Bob Barker Studio in 1998 in honor of the program’s taping of its 5,000th episode. But The Price is Right is set to move to a new home after more than a half-century in Studio 33 at Television City.
The property used to be called CBS Television City. If you’ve been a fan of game shows over the years, you probably remember the address from ticket plugs: 7800 Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles. If you ever visited in person, you know it’s next door to the Farmer’s Market, where they sell much more than just produce.
CBS sold the studio complex, which has served as its west coast headquarters for decades about five years ago. When the sale went through, the network took a five-year lease option for shows like ‘Price’ and others that tape there, including The Young and the Restless, The Bold and the Beautiful and The Late, Late Show with James Corden.
It now goes by the name Television City Studios. The new owner, Hackman Capital Partners, will begin a massive renovation. When complete, the number of studios will increase from eight to at least 15.
A historic stage
Studio 33 is a special place to TV fans. Burnett did her variety show there for 11 seasons. Countless game shows, including the famous 1970s version of Match Game with Gene Rayburn, also taped there.
Back in 1997, I was fortunate enough to go to CBS Television City with a camera crew. We went there to produce a behind-the-scenes segment on both The Price is Right and The Young and the Restless.
While in Studio 33, after a rehearsal, I took the opportunity to walk around the studio for a few minutes. Everything was quiet. Almost no one was in the studio. Ushers had not yet brought in the studio audience. Call it the calm before the storm.
Eventually, I found myself standing near the spot where Bob Barker would call for bids from contestant’s row. It dawned on me as I stood there how many from television’s golden era stood where I was.
The roll call of performers includes legends like Jack Benny, Red Skelton, and Bob Hope. Elvis Presley performed there during a live remote to The Ed Sullivan Show in New York. Groucho Marx, Mary Tyler Moore, Garry Moore, George Gobel, Don Rickles, Bill Cullen, Dick Clark and many, many more.
Between performers with their own shows and special guests on someone else’s, the roster reads like a who’s who of TV.
It’s a shame that the show has to leave the stage it has called home since its 1972 premiere.
Of course, the show isn’t the show it was back then. Drew Carey is a far cry from Bob Barker. Granted, it would be hard to find anyone who could fill the role as well as Barker could. After all, at the time he retired, he’d been a host on national television for 50 years.
I realize some fans love Carey. More power to them. I don’t share that view. As one viewer recently wrote on Facebook, “he spends too much time laughing at his own jokes.”
He doesn’t know how to host the show for the home audience. His effort goes to the studio audience. That might be expected since his primary experience was as a comedian. But a host has to serve the viewers, not just those who attend a taping.
The show has lost its “live to tape” feel because it’s now heavily edited. It also reduced the number of people in its studio audience, which hurts the party atmosphere the show carried for so long. I hear that while the main reason for that change was COVID-19, financial consideration also entered the picture. The show was having to pay people to fill otherwise-empty seats because of falling demand, according to a few Facebook posts I’ve seen. The information comes from one insider I consider to be very reliable. So the reduced seating is saving the show that huge expense every year.
I watch “The Price is Right: The Bob Barker Era” reruns on Redbox. That’s the show I grew up with. It’s the show I still find entertaining, even when the reruns date back to my high school days. It’s actually amazing how watchable 40-year-old reruns of the show are.
For me, moving out of that historic studio means the final break from the tradition I grew up with. Is it silly to feel sad about something like that? Maybe. There are those who love the show just fine now. I’m really glad they do.
To me, it’s not the same. I fear it never will be again.