BRANSON Mo. —
Bob Goen had a dream.
“I think I was 13 when I made the announcement at the family dinner table that I wanted to be a game show host,” said the former “Entertainment Tonight” anchor. “My parents thought a synapse had disconnected. They were very shocked and said, ‘That’s nice, son.’”
Goen, 57, a California native, cut his entertainment teeth doing radio in Southern California. He worked his way into television and in his middle 20s became an ESPN sports reporter and anchor.
His game show dream eluded him until 1986, when Goen got his break and his dream came true. He landed the TV hosting gig on “Perfect Match,” a show during which married couples answered questions about each other for cash and prizes.
A slew of other game show hosting opportunities followed. In 1989 Goen became host of the daytime incarnation of “Wheel of Fortune.” Eventually he replaced John Tesh on “Entertainment Tonight”, co-anchoring the popular nightly Hollywood digest with Mary Hart.
“I have always considered myself a game show host,” he said. “Still do. I still put it on my W-2 forms.”
Through Dec. 29, Goen will take the stage five or six days a week hosting the live stage version of “The Price is Right” at Welk Resort Theatre in Branson. The show promises all of the bells, whistles and prizes the televised version affords.
It’s not his first time hosting the long-loved game show franchise. He’s spent the better part of the last decade shepherding contestants through the perils of Plinko, the dangers of Cliff Hangers and the excitement of spinning the Big Wheel at Bally’s Casino in Las Vegas.
“It’s the classic game show of all time,” he said.Ê”It’s stood the test of time better than any of them. I don’t think I’m overstating it, or being maudlin, when I say it really an honor to host this show.”
Jeff Palmer, executive producer of “The Price is Right Live,” said the show is an “American treasure.” First aired in 1956 and reinvented in 1972 with Bob Barker as host, it is the longest running television game show in history.
“It’s been on the air for over 40 years and it crosses the generations,” said Palmer, a former Walt Disney Company producer. “There are not a lot of things that grandparents can watch with the grandkids and have the same experience.” He said “Price”, a live version of the one-hour television show, resonates with audience members of all ages.
“We duplicated the show in every way,” he said. “It has the same sets and same music. Everything is the same, even the prizes.”
One difference Palmer does cite from the Television City broadcast is the number of contestants who get to “come on down,” bid on prize packages and spin the Big Wheel.
“Every time we do a ‘come on down,’ four people come down instead of one,” he said. “Fifty people get their names called out during the show. At the end of the show, even the people who have already played are in the running to play in the showcase.
“That’s why we wanted to bring it to Branson,” he said. “I’ve been trying to get the show out here for quite a while. I think it’s a great fit.ÊAll the pieces came together so we are really happy.”
Want to go?
Everyone with a paid admission to “The Price is Right Live” may register to play. Contestant are selected at random. You must be 18 to play. Players must present a valid I.D. to claim prizes.
For show and ticket information, go to www.welkresortbranson.com or call 800-505-9355. One child is admitted free with each adult ticket.