Monday, November 15, 2010
Charlie O'Donnell, who died on November 1, gave "Wheel of Fortune" 28 years of prize copy, everything from ceramic dalmatians to "ONE MILLLLLLLLION DOLLARS!"
Why, then, is Sony Pictures Television trying to erase his final performances on the show?
Game show fan friends have been watching "Wheel" quite closely lately. Some have even been to tapings and have noticed O'Donnell's presence, but the shows that have aired since O'Donnell's passing have had a different voice reading the copy, that of incumbent "Jeopardy!" announcer Johnny Gilbert. The show has even gone so far as to have Pat Sajak overdub his throws to "Charlie" and replace them with "Johnny". (Check the closed captioning and see if it still says "Charlie"...)
My guess on the situation is that much of "Wheel" is narrated in post, but if Charlie was there, then we should still be able to hear him. "Wheel" producers could rationalize that it would be too confusing to viewers to still hear Charlie after his death was widely reported, much in the same way "What's My Line?" viewers of 40 years ago could still enjoy syndicated episodes with Bennett Cerf long after he left us.
The show is searching for a new announcer, and so far the front-runner is former "Price is Right" announcer Rich Fields, who has already taped several weeks of shows.