I attended a taping of Celebrity Family Feud as a guest of Disney and ABC; all opinion are my own.
The final episode of this season’s Celebrity Family Feud was taped on Sunday, June 7, at CBS Studios in Los Angeles. How do I know this? Because I was in the audience with 24 other bloggers from around the country. For many of us it was our first time at a show taping, and I have to say, what you see on TV is pretty much what happens.
Celebrity Family Feud: My Live Taping Experience
The stage the show is taped on is tiny. There are around 200 people in the audience and until the show starts, the only staff we see is the show audience coordinator and a few others with walkie-talkies who come around to tell us to take our purses out of our laps and put them under our chairs. They also make sure all the seats are full, if there’s an empty one, they ask the people sitting on either side of the empty seat to straddle it and theirs – it can’t be comfortable.
The show audience coordinator hypes up the audience by having dance-offs and giving out prices. He gets down to business as the showtime nears – we see the celebrity families coming onto the stage so we know it won’t be long. The audience coordinator is having us practice reading silly answers to remind us to do the same during the show. One person appears and moves the cameras around, checks them, and then walks away. A few minutes later the camera operators come out to film. Interestingly they walk up, film the show, and walk off leaving the same fellow who set them up, to take them down. The camera operators all wear black and several wear huge winter coats as the air conditioning is on.
Then the main event starts. The two celebrity families are introduced and walk from where they’ve been standing behind the large answer board. The show music comes up, the show audience coordinator goes wild encouraging us to get up on our feet and cheer, and Steve Harvey walks out and starts the show.
With the exception of a woman holding a few cue cards to remind Harvey of where they are in the game – how many strikes, how many answers are left, etc. – the rest appears to be ad-libbed. The teams are reminded to be animated but otherwise they’re on their own. The show is run like a live show. Harvey does his commercial introduction and taping is stopped for several minutes. Chairs are brought out for the older stars, glasses of water passed to each of the contestants, then the hair and makeup artists, one of each, tend to all of the team members.
Harvey has his own duo to tend to him – one dusts his bald head with powder to reduce the shine while they other checks for lint on his jacket. He looks meticulous in his dark suit with purple tie. He turns to the audience when they’re finished and starts talking directly to us, telling us that we don’t have to climb a mountain to find out what our gift is, that God gave it to us at birth, we just have to listen. He sounds like a preacher and several of the audience members have their arms raised and are feeling the spirit.
The stage is cleared, the music comes back on, the lights are up and Harvey starts the second part of the show. The teams are animated as they’re coming down to the end of the game, and they’re mugging a bit when they give their answers. It’s all in good fun and obviously for the camera, after all, it’s a formula that’s worked for decades.
Harvey may preach during the breaks, but he’s full on foul-mouthed during parts of the show and the audience is loving it. The game is over and one team has been declared the winner, by a landslide. The teams congratulate each other then the winning team chooses the two players that will play the Fast Money round and Harvey sends us off into a commercial.
During the break the podium is broken down and removed, the floor opened up and the electrical tucked inside, hair and makeup is retouched, and the winning team’s two players briefed on where to stand for the final part of the game. Harvey takes the opportunity to preach to the audience again and the time he talks about the kids from single-parent families that he’s invited to his ranch in Texas this week. He graphically describes how he and 75 men will take these young boys and “turn them around” in their time with him. Again, he uses some words that would make my Catholic mother-in-law blush.
The audience coordinator comes out and tells our section that we’ll be in the background during the Fast Money segment so he coaches us to sit up straight and look good because “you’re on television!” With that, the audible sound of everyone pushing their fannys into the back of their chairs and running their hands through their hair begins as does nervous laughter. He then has us practice saying, “Fast Money,” on cue and we’re set to finish the game.
The Fast Money segment is done, and the game is over we’ve clapped when prompted, stood up and cheered when motioned to, and we’ve laughed or groaned appropriately. But once the celebration is done, everyone holds and they call for an alternate opening. That means moving the cameras back into their start position, the floor is opened up once again and the podium replaced, and in about 5 minutes they’re ready to rerun the opening which takes about 2 minutes. They hold for a minute, call for a pick up (re-recording) of one line, and they’re done. Within minutes, the families are gone, and the crew heads to the stage for a wrap photo. That’s it, another season of Celebrity Family Feud is taped and ready to air.
Celebrity Family Feud Premieres SUNDAY JUNE 21 8|7c on ABC!
The show airs for 6 weeks with two celebrity families competing each week for a chance to win cash for their favorite charity. The families are not listed in order of appearance:
- Dr. Phil (McGraw) vs. Penny Marshall
- Karina Smirnoff vs. Sean Lowe
- Kevin McHale vs. Fred Willard
- American Stars from the NFLPA VS National Stars from the NFLPA
- Monica Potter vs. Curtis Stone
- Mario Lopez vs. Joey Lawrence
- Katy Mixon vs. Willie Robertson
- Rob Gronkowski vs. Holly Robinson Peete
- Niecy Nash vs. Cheryl Hines
- Keke Palmer vs. Bill Engvall
- Ed Asner vs. Vickie Lawrence – The show I attended. An air date has not been released.
- Anthony Anderson vs. Toni Braxton