The Gong Show (1976)
The Gong Show, while categorized as a game show, was an amateur talent show. Auditioned acts--from the talented to the bizarre--came on stage to perform. Three celebrity judges scored them on a 1 to 10 scale. Acts deemed too horrible to continue were "gonged"--the celebrities took a large timpani drum stick and struck the gong behind them.
The best act of the day was awarded a check for $516.32 (said to be the minimum pay amount for a day's work as set by the Screen Actors' Guild) and a "Golden Gong" trophy, and the worst act of the week was given a check for the same amount and a dirty sock.
The show was notable for making semi-household names out of two of its acts--Gene Gene the Dancing Machine (Gene Patton, a stagehand who shuffled on stage as various debris were thrown at him), and the Unknown Comic (Murray Langston, who performed corny jokes with a hyper jaunt and a paper sack over his head).
A syndicated nighttime edition, with Gary Owens as host (replaced later by series producer Chuck Barris) and a prize of $712.05, started that fall and ran to 1980. Don Bleu hosted a new syndicated edition in 1988. Game Show Network launched another version, Extreme Gong (viewers phoned in to judge acts), in 1998. Comedy Central launched yet another edition, The Gong Show with Dave Attell in 2008.
The Gong Show was produced by Chuck Barris Enterprises. Sony Pictures Television, which now owns the Gong Show format and franchise following its parent company Sony Corporation's acquisition of the Barris catalogue as part of its 1989 purchase of the Guber-Peters Entertainment Company (renamed from Barris Enterprises in 1988) and subsequent folding into Columbia Pictures Television (which Sony had acquired that same year as part of its purchase of CPT parent Columbia Pictures), is the show's distributor.
- At a Glance: Additional information about the series