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Spinning Wheel of Fortune
Former La Grande man to appear on game show Thursday
Spinning television’s most famous wheel is harder than it looks.
Just ask Chris Warren, a former La Grande resident who will appear on Wheel of Fortune Thursday. Warren learned that spinning the game show’s wheel takes more than a flick of the wrist.
“It was a little heavier than I expected,’’ said Warren, who lives in Lake Oswego and is a 1999 La Grande High School graduate.
The Wheel of Fortune show Warren will appear on was taped in early April in Portland. Union County television viewers will be able to see the program at 7:30 p.m. Thursday on KATU of Portland.
Warren found Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajack a delight. His quick, fun-loving banter comes off as well in person as it does on TV.
“He was conversational and witty,” Warren said. “ … He’s a good host, he’s up there to help you feel comfortable.”
The other famous member of the Wheel of Fortune team is Vanna White, who adds missing letters to the show’s puzzle board. Warren said White seemed like a nice person who enjoys her job. Contestants did not get an opportunity to talk with her but she did speak with the audience.
Each show usually has three contestants. All contestants stand on separate platforms behind a bannister. The platforms are adjusted to make it easy for each person to reach the wheel and to make it appear the contestants are in the same height range.
The show Warren will appear on was recorded at the Portland Convention Center. Four weeks worth of shows were taped there in early April, all of which are being broadcast this month. The Wheel of Fortune production staff tapes five shows in one day.
Contestants arrived on the set at 7 a.m. and production of the programs started in the afternoon. Prior to this, rules were reviewed, contestants got to practice spinning the wheel and much more. Warren said that contestants became familiar with each other before the taping started. The environment was a friendly one.
“It was not an adversarial situation,” Warren said.
The taping of Warren’s show took 30 minutes and the time seemed to fly by almost as fast as the 10 seconds contestants have to solve the word puzzle in the show’s bonus round.
“It went much more quickly than I expected,” said Warren, who moved to Lake Oswego from La Grande in 2008.
Contestants see a few things on the set that television viewerss at home do not, Warren said. One is a board indicating which letters have already been called and how much money each individual has won.
Contestants were asked to keep their hands down while clapping because of microphones on the set. Warren noted that during a commercial break in the recording of his program, he was asked to lower his hands while applauding.
Warren is a major in the Oregon National Guard and works at its headquarters in Salem. He served in Iraq in 2004-05 and Afghanistan in 2006-07. He will appear on Wheel of Fortune in his military uniform.
Warren beat long odds to appear on the show, for each year thousands of people try to become contestants but only about 600 are selected. Warren’s road to landing a spot on the show started when he sent in an application. He was then invited to be part of an audition in Portland.
Warren was part of a group of 50 when he participated in mock games of Wheel of Fortune. Prospective contestants were judged on their voice, stage presence, enthusiasm, confidence and puzzle-solving ability.
Warren was later called and told that he had been selected as a contestant. The former La Grande resident is excited about the upcoming broadcast of his program but said those who know him are more fired up than he is.
“I have already lived through the excitement of it.”