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Author Topic: Alternate Timeline: Chuck Woolery Never Leaves Wheel  (Read 1027 times)

Jeremy Nelson

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Alternate Timeline: Chuck Woolery Never Leaves Wheel
« on: October 29, 2019, 07:12:54 PM »
I had fears about the Dennis James alt timeline crashing and burning, and I was positively surprised at how much speculative fun we got out of that one. So let's try again.

Dave Livingston jokingly posted that there's an alternate universe where Chuck never left Wheel, and Pat got all of Chuck's gigs to be. Obviously, it's not that simple, so I pose the question to you- Chuck never leaves Wheel. What happens to his other hosting gigs, and what happens to the other host/hostess tandems? My updated reply to Dave is below:

If Chuck stays, Susan stays longer. But considering that Vanna’s glamour/sex appeal and Wheel symbiotically made each other famous, Wheel in syndication does well, but it and the daytime show are both gone some time the 90s- assuming Chuck and Susan both stay that long. Either way, she's gone before him. Wheel's ratings are good, but Jeopardy consistently gets the better ratings in the not-as-powerful power hour.

Merv still "discovers" Pat in 1981, but without a job to take at the time, he stays in local weather. He does the Puzzlers pilot in '82 and ends up on Goodson-Todman's radar.

Chuck still hosts Love Connection, but NBC won’t want the same guy hosting two word games on their network simultaneously. The Scrabble job goes to young Marc Summers.

Vanna possibly gets work as a model on game shows, but I’m not sure she gets a job anywhere near as popular or profitable in another universe.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2019, 12:10:44 AM by Jeremy Nelson »
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BrandonFG

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Re: Alternate Timeline: Chuck Woolery Never Leaves Wheel
« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2019, 08:01:14 PM »
I like Marc Summers on Scrabble. As a result, Double Dare goes to another actor who auditioned for the hosting gig.......meet your host, Dana Carvey. What this does to SNL, I don't know.

Back to Wheel, with Chuck hosting, the original set and format remain in place; the bonus round doesn't premiere until the syndicated version in 1983. Like Jeremy, I see the syndie version running a few years, with a revival at some point in the early-2000s. It's not a juggernaut, but remains an early-evening (and morning) favorite. The host is another person who crossed Merv's radar: Ryan Seacrest. This is 2001...a year before Idol, which he doesn't take. You're welcome, Brian Dunkleman. :P I know that's a bold pick, but in this universe, Wheel's been off the air for a decade, and wasn't the phenomenon it is in real life. The average viewer doesn't remember Chuck well enough to compare him to Ryan, who leaves the show in 2009 or so to focus on other projects. I have no idea who replaces him.

Since there's no Vanna-mania in the mid-80s and it's 2001, everything must be modern and high-tech. As a result, the puzzleboard now operates itself, but models still show off the prizes. The former causes a shitstorm on ATGS.

Vanna has a respectable acting career, and co-hosts an Entertainment Tonight-type show, then retires to live her life in private, doing behind-the-scenes TV work.

Pat gets Time Machine or Your Number's Up in 1985. Soon thereafter, he hosts an unsold network pilot (Keynotes? Oddball?), and is still tapped for a (syndicated) late-night show, which has about the same result. Eventually he becomes an occasional conservative political commentator.

Last edit (hopefully): Bob Goen doesn't become a Wheel host, but still co-hosts Entertainment Tonight.
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vtown7

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Re: Alternate Timeline: Chuck Woolery Never Leaves Wheel
« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2019, 08:54:54 PM »
You're welcome, Brian Dunkleman. :P

Side note: I was about five feet away from Brian Dunkleman on Saturday afternoon.  He seems nice!

Unrealtor

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Re: Alternate Timeline: Chuck Woolery Never Leaves Wheel
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2019, 12:50:47 AM »
Another alternate Vanna timeline: In late '82, with no vacancy at Wheel of Fortune, she gets the Sale of the Century gig instead. Chuck and Susan are a little too idiosyncratic for prime time and Vanna brings enough glamour and charisma to her job on Sale that Wheel fails quickly and Sale catches on. Even a successful version of Sale can't avoid constant format tweaks, and it only manages to survive until the early 90s. With competition from Sale in some markets and without a ratings juggernaut as a lead-in in others, Jeopardy has a respectable run but doesn't make it out of the 90s either. Vanna hasn't had a regular TV gig since Sale ended, but she occasionally still appears as a pitchwoman.
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Neumms

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Re: Alternate Timeline: Chuck Woolery Never Leaves Wheel
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2019, 04:25:34 PM »
Did ratings go up when Pat took over? Chuck was popular, too. There's no reason to think Wheel wouldn't have been as successful as with Pat.

Did Susan Stafford leave because Pat came in? I recall it was something life-related.

SuperMatch93

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Re: Alternate Timeline: Chuck Woolery Never Leaves Wheel
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2019, 07:55:14 PM »
Did Susan Stafford leave because Pat came in? I recall it was something life-related.

IIRC, she wanted to focus on humanitarian work.
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snowpeck

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Re: Alternate Timeline: Chuck Woolery Never Leaves Wheel
« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2019, 03:41:44 AM »
Did Susan Stafford leave because Pat came in? I recall it was something life-related.

IIRC, she wanted to focus on humanitarian work.

According to her book, Chuck's departure was what led her to realize that doing a daytime game show wasn't what she wanted her life's work to be. It took a while to build up chemistry with Pat and while she eventually did, the luster had already worn off the job.

A quote from the book: "Doing the show was more work after Chuck left. Not because of Pat Sajak--he was very polite and good to me--it's just that something essential had died."
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KrisW73

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Re: Alternate Timeline: Chuck Woolery Never Leaves Wheel
« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2019, 08:09:24 AM »
Did Susan Stafford leave because Pat came in? I recall it was something life-related.

IIRC, she wanted to focus on humanitarian work.

According to her book, Chuck's departure was what led her to realize that doing a daytime game show wasn't what she wanted her life's work to be. It took a while to build up chemistry with Pat and while she eventually did, the luster had already worn off the job.

A quote from the book: "Doing the show was more work after Chuck left. Not because of Pat Sajak--he was very polite and good to me--it's just that something essential had died."

Susan has also given a testimonial for Shen Yun:

https://www.shenyunperformingarts.org/reviews/view/article/e/Kv0BJ64FPzU/susan-stafford.html

RMF

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Re: Alternate Timeline: Chuck Woolery Never Leaves Wheel
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2019, 01:04:18 PM »
One side-element of importance:

In a world where Wheel doesn't become a break-down-the-doors hit in syndication, its distributor, King World, doesn't suddenly rise to become a major syndicated powerhouse like it did in our timeline.

We've noticed its consequences within the game show genre in terms of Jeopardy- however, in a world where King World isn't as important, this could well mean that its' two major series outside the game show genre, The Oprah Winfrey Show and Inside Edition, similarly don't rise to importance. If this is the case, it means major changes in the climate for both daytime programming and syndicated television over the last thirty-plus years.

aaron sica

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Re: Alternate Timeline: Chuck Woolery Never Leaves Wheel
« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2019, 03:07:55 PM »
In a world where Wheel doesn't become a break-down-the-doors hit in syndication, its distributor, King World, doesn't suddenly rise to become a major syndicated powerhouse like it did in our timeline.

This is a very interesting spin on it with some good points. I've always been of the impression that WoF was what put King World on the map. However, could Oprah have found another company to distribute her show?

BrandonFG

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Re: Alternate Timeline: Chuck Woolery Never Leaves Wheel
« Reply #10 on: October 31, 2019, 03:38:41 PM »
In a world where Wheel doesn't become a break-down-the-doors hit in syndication, its distributor, King World, doesn't suddenly rise to become a major syndicated powerhouse like it did in our timeline.

This is a very interesting spin on it with some good points. I've always been of the impression that WoF was what put King World on the map. However, could Oprah have found another company to distribute her show?
That's a perspective I never thought about...like Aaron, my memory is that Wheel indeed helped King World, which had marginal success handling reruns of various B&W shows and movies (Little Rascals shorts come to mind). The year before Wheel, they had a short-lived series with Barry-Enright called Soap World. I imagine if Wheel comes and goes, they continue with older sitcoms, but nothing significant, and they don't last as long as they did. Oprah credited Roger Ebert for pushing her to go national, so I think she still finds a syndicator regardless, perhaps Buena Vista, which distributed Siskel & Ebert.

A new wrinkle for the thread...I believe Merv wanted to syndicate Wheel weekly as early as 1980. How about an alternate universe where Chuck hosts this version from 1980-81, it never catches on, and fizzles out due to game shows losing popularity in general. Does the evening version still start in '83, later, or even at all? Back then, it wasn't unheard of for a canceled show to return after only a year or two off the air. TTTT, Pyramid, and both MG and HS in the early-80s came back after two years max.

I also imagine Feud, Joker, and Tic Tac run a little longer, although they were getting a little long in the tooth, even by 1985. Each had an eight- or nine-year run, so it was probably time.
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Neumms

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Re: Alternate Timeline: Chuck Woolery Never Leaves Wheel
« Reply #11 on: October 31, 2019, 05:48:56 PM »
For one thing, Pat would not have gotten a talk show without Wheel’s popularity. If Chuck had stayed on Wheel, maybe Pat gets Scrabble or Sale of the Century.

I say Wheel would have been a hit with Chuck. If they didn’t think Susan Stafford was so hot, they could have left her on daytime and picked Vanna or someone else for nighttime.

Remember what the prime access competition was at the time. People were tiring of Dawson. Tic-Tac-Dough was getting tiresome. Wheel is simply a great game.

Merv may well have sold Jeopardy! even without Wheel. Trivial Pursuit was the craze back then and most people—especially the age of station executives—fondly remembered the original.

TimK2003

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Re: Alternate Timeline: Chuck Woolery Never Leaves Wheel
« Reply #12 on: October 31, 2019, 08:55:17 PM »
If Chuck stayed on Wheel, Sajak would probably had stayed a weatherman  at KNBC.  Pat probably would've been tapped by Bob Stewart to host Go, which would mean that Kevin O'Connell would have stayed in Buffalo and would have only been known nationally as a fill in weatherman on the Today show.

Back to Sajak:  With KO out of the game show picture, I'm sure Sajak would have done a few more game show pilots until one stuck.