#44: The Our Little Genius Scandal
2009-2010 Patrick Wayne Award Winner

FOX: (Unaired due to Scandal)

This induction will be a bit different than what most of my inductions are.  Since there really isn't much to poke fun at with this induction, It'll be a more serious tone.  Aside from that, this induction is a tale of what happens when you try to sneak around the rules and regulations laid down by the FCC over 70 years ago. 

In 2009, FOX announced that they were casting for a new show where Child Geniuses would be featured answering brain-breaking questions for up to $1,000,000.  In short, this was going to be Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader in Reverse.  But let's talk about the people behind the show.

The Producer of the show was Mark Burnett.  He is the Mastermind behind such shows as The Apprentice, Survivor, & Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader.  All of his shows have been Scandal-free.  Or at least somewhat.  I mean, aside from one little aside from a bitter Survivor contestant, he's had a relatively clean record.

The host of the show was going to be Kevin Pollak.  In short, it was a very unusual choice for host.  His only hosting gig before this one was the first season of Celebrity Poker Showdown, in which he proved to be marvelously mediocre.  He sounded sometimes like he didn't want to be there, but he wasn't as terrible as others who could have easily taken the gig.

I'm not going to get too deep into the format because it's just a carbon copy of 5th Graders.  Basically, super smart kids answer 10 questions, worth an increasing amount of money.  To help them along the way, they have two helps.  One lets the adults see the question to help them out, and then the other help is a panel of experts, who get to see the question and offer up any advice.  During all this time, the adults can stop the play at any time and the contestants get to keep whatever monies they have won.  So it sounds like a bad mish-mash of 5th Grader, with the bailout baloney that was with Set For Life.

I know what you're thinking, the format alone sounds like a winner for this site, but why is there a scandal?  Well, here it is.

Literally two weeks before the show was set to air on January 13th, Mark Burnett said that there was some production problems and the shows would have to be reshot, but all contestants that played the game prior would keep all of their winnings.  What I thought about, when the news came out to begin with, was maybe the footage was messed with or the files got corrupted and whatnot.  Then more news came out.  This is where it starts to get really ugly.

It turns out that the contestants have been briefed too much.  What that means in lay-man's terms is that the staff told contestants some of the source material that they would be using for the questions, so the contestants could look up the answers moments before showtime.  While that may seem bad, it gets worse.  Reports came in from one of the contestants parents that they were given some of the answers in advance.  That is one of the most horrible things to do when it comes to a TV production. 

I mean, let's go back in time to 1958, when the whistle was blown on the rigging of quiz shows such as Twenty-One, The $64,000 Question/Challenge, and Dotto.  They were all summoned to Washington DC for a grand jury investigation/trial.  They had to spill their guts about all their practices, all of the cheating, all of the shady business practices when it came to prepare the show.  People lost their jobs because of this, Jack Barry & Dan Enright went into exile for years in the TV business, The crew behind the $64,000 question & challenge lost their jobs & Dotto went DOA after the trials.  It took the entire industry years to recover, with only a few survivors staying on TV, mainly the Goodson-Todman brand and a new NBC show in Concentration, which was made by Jack Barry and Dan Enright, but NBC bought it from them after the scandals broke out..  What I gave you is the Cliff-Notes version of what happened, I'll go more in depth later on.

The show is currently under investigation by the FCC.  If it does come out that the show was infact rigged, then heads will be rolling, mainly at FOX and Mark Burnett productions.  Felony Charges would be flowing like water in a river, millions of dollars will be lost, jobs will be flushed down the toilet, among other various unhealthy things for tons of game shows that could be unfairly bundled into this mess.  It could have sent the game show world back into the dark ages again, like it was in the early 90s where only about 3-4 shows were on in network TV & syndication combined.  Once more details comes out, I'll be sure to talk more about it in the commentaries section.  But as it stands now, it's just pathetic as a whole.  The show itself would have wound up here in the future, but since they decided to try to rig the show, allegedly, it got here quicker than normal and voted as the first Patrick Wayne award winner. 

May the next winner be less scandalous than this one.

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