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Back In The Embarrassment Game


"I'm so embarrassed for you, "Bob Eubanks stage-whispered to a giggly third-grader after her parents did a silly shimmy on command during the premiere of "Family Secrets."

Embarrassment is Eubanks' middle name. (Actually, Bob is his middle name. His first name is Your Host.) For some 15 years, he traded on embarrassment as emcee of "The newlywed Game" and "The New Newlywed Game." In 1989, he got a bitter taste of his own medicine when Maverick documentarian Michael Moore captured him telling patently offensive jokes in "Roger & Me."

With "Family Secrets," a game show that mixes "The newlywed Game" and "Family Feud," Eubanks is back in his beloved embarrassment business. Judging from the first two half-hours, however, somebody's going to have to goose the guests to get their faces properly red. Meantime, do not adjust your set.

The fun begins with the children answering questions about their parents' foibles while the grown-ups are out of earshot. Next, the moms and dads are quizzed on the oddities of their offspring. The families then regroup for the final round. Unfortunately, the early contestants barely budged the needle on the embarrassment meter.

The first show's questions included: "What's the thing your mom does that's so crazy it makes he one of America's weirdest People?" One kid offered that her mother sings and dances while housecleaning. "What does she wear?" Eubanks asked, sniffing for something salacious. "Clothes," the child replied not very cooperatively.

Later, a woman revealed that when her husband ails, he wails, "Oh, my back--touch it!" A leering Eubanks cracked," And he's not sick when he does that, is he?" Perhaps preoccupied by dreams of winning a fabulous Arizona vacation in the bonus round (or taking home the consolation prize of "scoop-formula cat litter"), the couple failed to register satisfactory embarrassment.

One mother wrongly guessed that her daughter would confess burning curiosity about "the facts of life" and "commercials for women's products." It turned out that the girl was more interested in cars. This same woman identified the capital of South Dakota as Kansas. And She's going to Arizona!

On the next show, Eubanks betrayed his lowered expectations by changing the opening line from , "This is the show that proves secrets can really be a lot of fun" to "This is the show that proves secrets can be fun sometimes." Not content to stand back and await comic opportunities, your gracious host waved cards in from of his face to indicate that a guest was giving off body odor. the contestant, a husky policeman, did seem a teensy bit embarrassed. That's progress.

And then, paydirt. During a break, Eubanks spied the cop's wife discreetly attempting to adjust her bra. As soon as "Family Secrets" continued, he demanded a full-figured accounting. "I kind of fell out of something," the woman said sheepishly. Without a half-second's hesitation Eubanks shot this zinger at her hubby: "And you without your gun!"

Boy, was his face red. But it should tan nicely on that vacation in the Balmy Caribbean."

* "Family Secrets" airs weekdays at 10 a.m. on KNBC.

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