Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Manning To Replace Barker On "The Price Is Right"

This Friday represents the end of an era on CBS, as Bob Barker departs after 35 years of hosting The Price Is Right. Since Barker announced his retirement intentions last fall, television insiders have speculated about his replacement. Today came the surprising answer. The next host of The Price Is Right will be Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning.

Manning was considered a natural to host, given his enthusiastic interaction with everyday people in his MasterCard commercials. CBS executives were apparently undaunted by claims that the “Priceless” ads were part of a conspiracy to take down the long-running game show. Manning’s hiring provides natural cross-promotion opportunities for CBS, which televises AFC games. In a similar vein, the show airing after The Price Is Right is expected to be renamed The Vince Young and the Restless.

Beginning on Monday, Manning will film as many shows as possible before Colts training camp begins on July 29. Other tapings will take place during Indy’s bye week in October. To accommodate the preferences of Peyton, the studio will not allow entrance to anyone from New England. However, Steve Spurrier is eager to become a contestant, since Manning has never been able to stop him from winning.

Barker and the new host have no shortage of similarities. Both have presided over long-running successful enterprises. Manning has won regular season and Super Bowl MVP awards, while Barker has piled up the Emmys. Also, both Bob and the NFL were born in the 1920s. Hopefully, the similarities end at Barker’s infamous pummeling of Happy Gilmore. To be on the safe side, U.S. Open officials will be on the lookout this Sunday in case Manning runs onto the green to deck Tiger Woods.

The show’s announcer, Rich Fields, will be an appropriate partner for a guy who’s gotten rich on the field. Hearing frequent shouts of “A new car!” will remind Manning of his SEC football days. To incorporate the NFL theme, Fields will change his call of “Come on down!” to “First down!” The contestants will run down to The Trenches, formerly known as Contestant Row. Therefore, like all announcers connected with football, Fields can say, “This game is being won in The Trenches!”

Manning will put his personal stamp on the show in many ways. Barker’s Beauties will now be known as Peyton’s Peaches. You might hear the quarterback say something like, “The actual retail price is $879. But you can’t measure what’s in that prize’s heart!” Enthusiasm will still be encouraged, but the hysterical jumping around by contestants will almost certainly be toned down a few notches. Otherwise, Peyton will tell them, “Look, Marvin Harrison doesn’t jump around like an idiot when he wins a dinette set. Act like you’ve been there before!” Manning will also make sure that the contestants who make it to the Showcase Showdown will have a perspective that he understands. Before the Showdown, each contestant will have to listen to sports reporters and talk radio hosts screaming that they can’t win the big one.

While he makes the show his own, Manning is fully aware of the importance of preserving Barker’s legacy. Therefore, he will close every edition of The Price Is Right in traditional fashion, with a football addition: “Have your pet spayed or neutered, and kept off Michael Vick’s property.”