Blank Check (partially lost unaired pilots of Jack Barry game show; 1974)
Blank Check was a game show that aired on NBC from January 6th to July 4th, 1975 and was hosted by Art James. The show's format was not well-remembered by James or the rest of the show's staff with some calling the game "Blank Mind" and most calling it "was dumb luck, a guessing game". It would be Barry's final creation before he reunited with Dan Enright a year after the show ended. Before it aired in January 1975, two pilots were taped on October 4th, 1974 and have mostly been never seen publicly.
Six contestants compete in trying to win big cash prizes by filling in a four-digit check. One contestant (dubbed the "Check Writer") stood in front of a giant check behind a podium (similar to the king/queen of the hill in Jackpot). To start, five digital randomizers spun a series of numbers, and the Check Writer stopped them by hitting a button in front of him or her. When the numbers stopped, they chose a number to put into the check after which Art read a riddle (usually a common relation between two things) to the other five contestants seated in a gallery. The first player to buzz in with a correct answer then got to choose which number the check writer had selected. If successful, then that contestant became the new check writer and started a new check, otherwise, the current check writer would stay the check writer and the actual number was placed into the check. The process continued for the next two numbers (in the tens and then hundreds) until the check writer came up to the thousands column. When that's done, an audience game came into play.
In the audience game, one member of the studio audience came up on stage to play for up to four prizes. The four prizes were shown to both the audience member and check writer. The check writer's job was to guess which prize the audience member had chosen. The audience member kept every prize they had chosen should the check writer make a mistake, and if the check writer made three mistakes, the audience member won all four prizes. However, if the check writer got at least one right before getting three wrong, one final riddle was asked to the gallery. If the gallery player who came up with the correct answer couldn't guess the right digit, the final digit was placed, and the check writer won the amount of the check. Should the check writer lose their position, they still won the check amount from up to that point, and after the check was completed or if the audience game was won by the audience member, a toss-up riddle was asked to the gallery for the position of the new check writer.
The format of the pilots was the exact same very little changes. The first pilot would feature the first appearance of Jack Campion, who would become a mainstay of various game show pilots, including Second Chance, Card Sharks, Press Your Luck and Jeopardy! The second pilot also featured a pre-fame Marc Summers, who is now known as the host of Double Dare on Nickelodeon and Unwrapped on Food Network.
With the show not being well-liked by game show fans and the show itself having not aired since its cancellation, the pilots fell into obscurity pretty quickly. The first pilot has been passed around in recent years and was said to be on YouTube for a short time but has since vanished. Photos of the pilot can be found on the US Game Show Pilot Lite website and it wouldn't be until August 26th, 2022, that it would finally make its way on Dailymotion by user "Chuck D's Game Show Cavalcade". Nothing about the second pilot is known except that according to the US Game Show Pilot Lite website, it is being held at the UCLA Film and Television Archive, but is unavailable for viewing. Only a single photo of the second pilot, posted by Summers on Facebook in November 2021, is all that's available of the second pilot.
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