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Weather Guys and 'The Price is Right'


The public truly has two diametrically different takes on our local meteorologists. They’re either the trusted voice in the storm, the guy (and something like 80% of local meteorologists are male) people turn to when it’s life or death. The reason why most people tune into local news anyway.

Or they’re the kooky chucklehead that’s there for laughs, and garners very little respect from the public.

Jonathan Novack from the latest Bachelorette, and soon, Bachelor Pad, seems to fall into the latter category for his goofball antics on screen. You can pick up on the sneering way his fellow bachelor hopefuls referred to him as “The Weathermannnn“…it’s drawn out and it’s condescending, and it’s the same tone they use when describing “The Wrestlerrrrr“–another sent-home Bachelorette hopeful, whom everyone on the show wants to smash into the turnbuckle.

You’d think a 30-year old guy who worked his way up to doing weather on major stations in major markets (WSVN Miami, KPRC Houston) would get a bit of respect, but it doesn’t seem to be the reality.

Then there’s the case of Terry Kniess, a former Las Vegas TV meteorologist who’s the subject of a fascinating profile in the August Esquire. Kniess’s specialty in TV weather was spotting patterns, reports Chris Jones, and it took him to stations in Vegas, Waco, Springfield, Missouri, and Atlanta, where he racked up some local Emmys in 1993 and 1994.

Leaving local TV, Kniess put that same set of skills to good use as a casino surveillance guy, spotting card-counters and cheaters at Circus Circus.

Kniess eventually puts the spotting-patterns skill to use on The Price is Right, of all things. Watching the show tirelessly, he notes when the same product is being featured in different editions (the Big Green Egg grill, for one), and when certain games (Plinko, Punch a Bunch) are used to slow down or speed up the amount of winning going on.

Kniess ends up on the show, and then Contestant’s Row, where he nails the price of the feature item (the Big Green Egg grill!) to the dollar: $1,175. He goes on to compete in the Showcase Showdown, and nails the price of the combined loot (a karaoke machine, a camper, a pool table), again right down to the dollar: $23,743. Uncanny, right?

Controversy ensues, as no one had ever nailed the Showcase Showdown price exactly before. Did a mysterious uber-fan of the show on the producers’ radar screen assist Kniess with hand signals from the audience? Was there dirty pool going on?

The story, “TV’s Crowning Moment of Awesome,” is a fascinating look at what goes on behind the scenes at The Price is Right. Who knew that Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup was often featured on the set, as former host Bob Barker insisted the show be vegetarian? And who knew that current host Drew Carey likes to place bets with the crew on who will win the Showcase Showdown?

The feature offers video of Kniess winning both sets of Showdown prizes, and an extremely dubious Carey announcing that he’d hit the total price smack on the head.

Carey offers his perspective at the time on Kniess’s achievement, with some of the most deliciously profane language you’ll read this week:

“Everybody thought someone had cheated. We’d just fired Roger Dobkowitz, and all the fan groups were upset about it. I thought, F***, they just f***ing f***ed us over. Somebody f***ed us over. I remember asking, ‘Are we ever going to air this?’ And nobody could see how we could. So I thought the show was never going to air. I thought somebody had cheated us, and I thought the whole show was over. I thought they were going to shut us down, and I thought I was going to be out of a job.”

And just over there, just on the other side of that curtain, was twice-perfect Terry Kniess, still dancing to the music. “I was like, F*** this guy,” Carey says. “When it came time to announce the winner, I thought, It’s not airing anyway. So f*** him.”

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.