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The Woolerys at home: It's a game show life

June 14, 2003|Scott Sandell | Times Staff Writer

Chuck Woolery. The name is almost impossible to say without half a smile, or perhaps a smirk. Even if you are the former Mrs. Woolery, of which there are two, you probably can't help but react to its innate silliness.

That's exactly what the Game Show Network is counting on as it revamps its Sunday night schedule this weekend, with the new "reality" show "Chuck Woolery: Naturally Stoned" as its centerpiece. A la MTV's "The Osbournes" and E!'s "The Anna Nicole Show," the series delves into the daily existence of the host of such game shows as "Wheel of Fortune," "Love Connection," "Scrabble," "Greed" and "Lingo."

Though the first episode of "Naturally Stoned," at 9:30 p.m., is more of an overtly produced biography than a covertly staged slice of life, the show spares none of the outrageous bleeps and blunders associated with Ozzy & Co.

As you might guess from the title -- which refers to a short-lived Top 40 hit Woolery had with his band, Avant Garde, in 1968 -- the Chuckster comes off here as quite the goof.

Tanned and laid-back to the point of appearing almost insincere, Woolery walks the audience through all things Chuck, from his life at home with the kids and Teri, his third wife, to his current gig hosting "Lingo." Because "Lingo" is one of Game Show Network's original programs, it should come as no surprise that this often feels like a behind-the-scenes infomercial. It's also somehow fitting, considering that Woolery's "back in two and two" catchphrase precedes commercial breaks and that he's a pitchman for a line of bass-fishing lures on QVC.

Though "Naturally Stoned" is entertaining enough to give viewers a contact high, the same cannot be said of the evening's other premiere, "National Lampoon's Funny Money." This game-show/comedy hybrid at 10 has contestants answering trivia questions and predicting which of three comedians will elicit the most laughs from the studio audience. In one of the rounds, guest Kathy Griffin delivers a few minutes of stand-up, followed by a quiz on her routine. Suffice it to say that little is memorable.

Rounding out the night at 10:30 is a new celebrity episode of the second-season series "Cram," in which contestants receive answers ahead of time but must stay awake for 24 hours before taping. This weekend, Christopher Knight and Susan Olsen of "Brady Bunch" fame compete; next Sunday, Playboy playmates Pennelope Jimenez and Laurie Fetter get their proverbial 15 minutes. Well, 15 minutes minus two and two.

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