Well, last Saturday (October 25th, 2008) I waited in line for several hours in a Casino Hotel conference room in Tunica Mississippi. What was I waiting for? A chance to audition for the Wheel of Fortune show!
The Wheel Mobile has three audition “sets” each day. There were approximately three to four hundred people in each “set”, and from thirty to forty people were chosen (by raffle) to audition during each “set”. This means that your chances of getting auditioned (in each set) are about one in ten.
I was chosen during the last set of the first day!
Well, let me “set the stage” for you. It is a stage, brightly lit, in front of hundreds of people. Five people are chosen as “contestants” in a mini Wheel of Fortune game. We have our pictures taken while waiting for the previous auditioners to finish their game. Mistake #1: I’m too nervous to smile properly for the camera!
Next, we line up for the game. Marty Lublik is the host (did I spell that right?), and Heidi Jackson (last name?) is the Letter Girl. They have quite a job. Marty has to entertain the audience, interview each auditioner and M.C. the game all at the same time. Heidi doesn’t just “turn” the letters. She sets up the puzzle board (and the clue) before each mini game. She keeps the puzzle solution handy so she can write the guessed letters in their places. When she’s not doing those things, she’s “modeling”.
I don’t know who hired these two, but whoever did was on the ball. Marty did a great job covering for my deficiencies. When I looked down (at the microphone), he raised it so that my head was up (I didn’t realize until afterward — my mistake #2!) When I spoke too quietly, he moved the mic right up to my mouth. He even managed to make me smile (spontaneously) during my interview.
Heidi was flawless. So was her performance.
Next is the interview. Marty asks what you do and what your hobbies are. Except for looking at the mic, I think I did fair here. However, I wasn’t very exciting, and that’s what they look for. I did mention my web site, though!
After all of the interviews it’s the mini game. Here, I do really well. I speak clearly, I don’t call any already-called letters, I’m completely comfortable and focused, and — guess what? — I solve the puzzle!
After the mini-game audition, all of the “contestants” get prizes! My group got a Wheel of Fortune key ring and hat!
Now I hope to be contacted in the next couple of weeks and chosen to join in the Final Audition.
Where did I fail? I didn’t smile for the photo, I didn’t show nearly enough excitement during the interview, and I looked at the mic instead of over it. For the latter, I plead complete lack of experience.
Where did I succeed? Well, solving the puzzle is one obvious point. More, I didn’t stutter, I spoke clearly and without any obvious nervousness. In fact, I was surprisingly comfortable during most of the audition. Only the initial moment — the photo — found me distracted by my situation.
Marty, Heidi and the rest of the staff did a bang-up job, as far as I’m concerned. I think their professionalism, more than anything else, made me feel so comfortable while on stage in front of so many. So, if you’re afraid to try out for Wheel of Fortune, don’t be! You have a decent chance of getting auditioned and — hopefully — on the show!
Well . . . I’d given up hope of being called back for the second audition when four months after the first audition I received an invitation! This despite the assurance during the first audition that we would be called back in about two weeks. I’m guessing that the late callback was a sort of “second string” situation, where the primary candidates from the first audition had already undergone the second audition round and we were there to “fill out” the remaining needed contestants.
Unlike the first audition, no cameras, no crowd, no bright lights and no stage. There are about 60 people seated in a small conference room with about 5 Wheel employees working at the desk in front of us.
The first thing that happens is one of the Wheel employees goes over the rules. There’s a surprise here: she asks the audience how “Same Name” puzzles work. The first correct answer (not me) gets an autographed photo of Vanna! (I’ll bet that goes for a few bucks on EBay!)
Next is another mini-game similar to that in the first audition. Instead of competing in groups of 5, everyone remains seated while the Wheel employees give every auditioner a turn (at random, not in any order). Your turn lasts like normal (that is, until you fail, hit Bankrupt or solve the puzzle). Once again I solve the puzzle when it’s my turn!!!
After everyone has a turn, they go through the auditioners “at random” again, this time giving particular auditioners a turn at the wheel. My impression is that they had already chosen those people as candidates for “passing” the audition, and they wanted to decide between those particular auditioners. I believe this because one of the second chancers was sitting next to me, and she “passed” the audition. I was not chosen for a second chance at solving the puzzle despite my good performance.
Yes: believe it or not there is a written test!
After the game is finished, we each get a test page. The test is timed, and we have to keep the test page turned over until the test starts.
The test begins, and I discover that I have about 20 Wheel of Fortune puzzles to solve. Each puzzle has just a few letters filled in plus the clue. One or two of the puzzles look familiar to me: I’m pretty sure that they are actual puzzles from past seasons of the TV show. I get maybe 5 of the 20 in the time allowed. The people around me seem to do no better.
Well, out of about 60 people who showed up, 6 are chosen. Again, despite a good performance in playing the game (and solving the puzzle), I am passed over.
Again, probably where I failed most is in showing excitement. I realized this during the “game” stage and (unfortunately) did not get a second chance to rectify the situation. The trick here, I believe, is to act as if the money you “land on” when the wheel is spun is money that you’ve actually won. So: when you do your Wheel audition, try to think how you would feel if you were really winning the money that you know you really are not winning. When the “Wheel” lands on a high value wedge, jump up and down! When you correctly guess a letter, show some real excitement, as if you’d really won some dough!
If you saw me audition and want to leave a comment about my performance or ask questions about the Wheel Mobile audition, you can e-mail me (see the button below). If you want me to post your comment on this page, make sure to give permission in the e-mail and also a “user name”. I will not post anyone’s real name or e-mail address online.