Author Topic: Interview with "The Man Who Has Everybody Talking!" Wayne Cox, a Special  (Read 966 times)

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Offline Roadgeek Adam

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So, a few members of this site were aware of this, but I'm trying something interesting that I think members of this site and fans of the game show community in general will appreciate and like. I have wanted to interview Wayne Cox, the host of Talk About, for quite a while. I follow him on Twitter and he follows me back. I sat down tonight with Cox on Twitter for a 2-hour interview asking him questions I wrote and some members of this site and the game show community wrote. Mr. Cox was extremely pleasant to talk to and enjoyed talking about the 1980s and 1990s game shows of which he worked. As most people here know, I'm autistic, and his willingness to do this interview on text with Twitter made my life so much easier. I'm still working on honing my interview skills and having an all-text interview made me feel better.

So, I'd like to present you with the transcript of the interview with "The Man Who Has Everybody Talking!", Wayne Cox.


Adam: Talk about your career in the Vancouver area before the three shows that most game show fans know you for (Second Honeymoon, Talk About, and Acting Crazy).

Wayne: I started out as a disc jockey on a number of radio stations. After a few years I not only worked on radio, but got involved in working on TV doing commercials and filling in for a TV weatherman. Then, Second Honeymoon came along; I auditioned for it, and got the job. I had never hosted a game show before that one, and was very excited to be working for the legendary Wink Martindale. It was his company that produced the show that was shown on the Christian Broadcast network, (later the Family Channel). I continued to work in radio, even when Talkabout came along. Later, TV took over and was the resident TV weatherman for the top rated News program in the Vancouver area.

Adam: What did Wink teach you about being a game show host?

Wayne: Haha....he always used to joke that it was a "Hair and Teeth Business"....haha. We got along great, and I even got to sit in some tapings of a game show he was doing at Television City in L.A. I watched and listened, and hopefully learned from what I saw him do. It was great to be a student of his!

Adam: I’d imagine. He’s still got an effect on people today.

Adam: How did Second Honeymoon come about and since YouTube does not have any episodes of it, could you explain for the general game show audience how it worked?

Wayne: Of course. Second Honeymoon was a wonderful show. It took the greed out of game shows. If you've ever seen the Newlywed Game, it was based on the same idea of questions and answers, and rewarded for matching answers. Well, questions were asked of Mom and Dad, then the children brought on to the set and if they matched the answers Mom and Dad had given, they won points. Then the roles were reversed. At the end of the game, the family with the most points won, and the kids therefore won a Second Honeymoon trip! And we had great trips, all over the world. And it was wonderful when we found out that some of the Moms and Dads didn't have enough money to afford a first honeymoon, so it became extra special for the kids to be able to something special for their parents.

Adam: Now that is special. Unfortunately all of the Newlywed Game versions or spinoff-styles but Second Honeymoon have made it to YouTube. I spent 30 minutes last night looking everywhere for an episode to watch in preparation, but unfortunately, I could not find any.

Wayne: That's too bad, because as I say, it took the greed out of game shows, and the kids were just as excited as their parents when they won a trip for them!

Adam: Let’s move to the show most know you well for and Talk About. How did you get the offer for Talk About? Were there other people auditioned for hosting?

Wayne: Yes there were. It was an audition call. I showed up, not quite understanding the show, but ran through it once, and the creator, Mark Maxwell Smith said that he knew I was the one when I walked in the room. Sometimes it happens like that. Mark and I have remained friends ever since!

Adam: You don’t have to explain, but any notable names who didn’t get the job?

Wayne: Gee, no I didn't hear any names, and we were all auditioned at different times, so at the time, I didn't even see anyone waiting to audition?

Adam: Fair enough. For example, when Bob Barker retired, we learned who auditioned on The Price is Right, so I figured I’d ask.

Adam: You mentioned in a recent Tweet that the CanCon process involved paperwork. Can you explain to the general game show fan how CanCon affected a show like Talk About? (I personally know the rules pretty well, but am interested in hearing your explanation).

Wayne: I think the CanCon ruling in TV at the time was a little different. I didn't have anything to do with the business end of the show, but I do believe there were rules about a Canadian host, Canadian crew, and there were some Americans obviously, as it was a co-production between the national television network, CBC and a New York Production Company, D.L. Taffner.
Adam: Yes, as I remember, the rule as of my friends explained it was: “Canadian produced shows with Canadian interests at mind.” Would that be a reasonable explanation?

Wayne: I guess so? I don't think I've heard that before? The puzzles weren't aimed specifically at Canadians, they were pretty much universal? But the show was broadcast right across the country, so provided content for the network. When it started to be aired in the U.S. it was part of a 2 hour game show block on all the Fox Network Owned and Operated stations.

Adam: Well the show that comes to mind is a show around the same time in Jackpot, hosted by Geoff Edwards, who was clearly not Canadian. At least that seems to be the interpretation to why the announcer got some extra air time.

Adam: In one celebrity episode, you had game show legends Marc Summers and the late Geoff Edwards. What was it like to work with these two stalwarts of the game show community? (Of course, Marc was a young man then.)

Wayne: Ha! We were all younger then!! Geoff was one of my favourite hosts! And Marc was a good friend of Mark Maxwell Smith, and Marc and I got along great! Those were fun shows to do. It was great to see that Celebrities weren't afraid to play the game. I say afraid, because if you didn't get many words off the big board, you might feel a little foolish, but you needn't because everything contestants said was usually valid, their words just weren't part of our list of words!! So, it was great to see that they understood that, and just had fun with it!!!

Adam: It is a pretty easy game for celebrities compared to a lot of game shows in which they appear because it is a real general knowledge based show.

Adam: The Talk About set was small on television (and on the episodes posted on YouTube from tapes). Was that just a camera thing or was the set that small?

Wayne: No, actually it was a very big set in one of the larger studios at CBC Vancouver. We had a very large seating area for an audience. We would have one audience for the morning, then break for lunch and have another audience come in for the afternoon taping. If I recall, we'd do 3 shows in the morning session and 2 shows in the afternoon. We'd tape 3 days in a row, then take a couple of weeks off to get more contestants, and write new puzzles.

Adam: So basically the typical game show taping schedule, 3 before lunch, 2 after.

Wayne: Right.

Adam: Give the general fan what it’s like to have to do 5 shows in a day. I assume you have to change outfits to make it appear like it’s a different day or did you have some leniency? How much were you given in advance or did you know no more than the contestants?

Wayne: The first day was fine, the second day started to be a bit of a strain, and by the 3 day, and the 15th show in a row, I was ready for a break! I would change outfits between each show, and had a woman who was in charge of having everything laid out for me in the dressing room, so I could run in, change and get back on the set. The only thing that could possibly delay things would be any technical problems, which weren't many during the course of taping. I was able to go over all the puzzles beforehand, just to make sure I knew what the topic was and what our list of words were.

The trick to the show was, we had to come up with a winning team each game. Winner and Bonus round, so there was a lot of mathematical juggling as the show got close to the end of the 22 minutes allotted in a half hour show! It was up to me to watch the clock, and talk faster or slower, or make some small talk if necessary so that we could come out with a winning team that would go on to the next day as the current champions. Although there was no heavy lifting doing the show, sometimes the mental gymnastics were tiring! Ha!

Adam: What was the excitement in the studio like when someone got a Perfect 10 and/or a win in the bonus round? Did you get particular enjoyment out of those?

Wayne: Oh, yeah! Those were the really fun moments! The audience loved it too, and sometimes it was all they could do not to get involved by shouting some words out!! That luckily never happened while we were playing the game.

Adam: So what led to the cancellation of Talk About in 1990?

Wayne: That was unfortunate. As I recall, D.L. Taffner was all set to head into another season. I think if we had another season in the can we could have gone into syndication, but the CBC decided it didn't want to make game shows anymore, even though it was doing just fine in the ratings? And when Taffner finally realized that the CBC wasn't being a hard negotiator, and really didn't want to do any more shows, it was too late for Taffner to find another co-producer! So, the whole thing fell apart. Too bad, we had a successful show going! You know you have something when the crew plays along with the game while you're taping!!

Adam: Even fans note, including myself, it is easy to be sucked into playing while watching because you’re just shouting words and hoping they show up.

Wayne: Exactly!

Adam: How did Acting Crazy come about?

Wayne: Acting Crazy was a local production that also went across Canada. Blair Murdoch is a local businessman who owns a number of businesses, but his great love is show business, and decided he wanted to get into Game Shows, and one of the games was Acting Crazy, which of course is based on the old game of Charades. I can't remember if Blair called me, or I auditioned for it, but I do remember it was a lot of fun to do with the "house" players, and also the celebrity guest players.


Adam: Let’s move to the fan-submitted questions. The first three come from a friend of mine named Derek. The first one is did anyone try to do what he called a “stall strategy”, a team intentionally throwing a puzzle to have a better chance of winning?

Wayne: Hmmm, not that I know of? I'm not sure how that would work as nobody knew what puzzles were coming up, except me and the producer, and we weren't telling! So they'd be taking a big chance hoping that the next puzzles would be something they know anything about?

Adam: The second of his questions is simple. Were there any proposals of bringing Talk About back and if there was, were you contacted?

Wayne: Well, Mark and I always talked about it...ha how about that! They were able to do versions of the show in the U.K. Sweden and Ireland, (naturally I wasn't invited to be part of those) but never a new round produced in North America. Of course re-runs have been shown on USA network and the Game Show network, but nothing new!

Adam: His final question is about Acting Crazy, why did Acting Crazy come back after a 2-year taping hiatus? What was the impetus for the hiatus?

Wayne: You know, I'm not sure? I guess that's a question for Blair, the producer? It could have been something to do with securing time in a studio? A sales deal, I don't know?
Adam: The next question comes from someone who has actually done a YouTube video review of Talk About for her website. (She gave you and the show a glowing review, calling you one of the best hosts of the 1990s.) Being able to go from a relationship show, to a word game, to an acting game seamlessly, how do you prep or adapt to all of these shows?

Wayne: Gee, first, that's very nice of the reviewer, and to your question, I don't know what prep I did other than listen to what the producers said and tried to give them what they wanted? Over the years of my work in radio, which was always live, and most TV I had done was also live (with the exception of the commercials and game shows) but I always would approach commercials or shows as if they were live. Live means not being able to do it over again and I would always have that thought in mind. No going back, so give it your best shot! And above all, just be yourself, and roll with the punches. If someone says something funny, you laugh! If they ask a question, answer it. I always took a pretty simple approach to all of them. The one key thing a good listener!

Adam: That’s a good lead in for the final fan question, from a friend of mine named Tristan. Of all the shows you’ve done on television or radio, is there one you liked the most?

Wayne: I think it's a tie! Talkabout for sure, as it was the most challenging and a lot of fun, and a local show here in Vancouver. It was called "The Vancouver Show" It was 2 hours of live television every night between 7 and 9. It was kind of like NBC's Today show, but without the newscast component. Interviews with politicians, authors, musicians, artists, live bands, you name it. When you have to fill 2 hours live every night of the week, you do everything. Those are my two favourites!

Adam: That sounds like a hell of a fun show. 

Adam: Are there any moments on Talk About you thought was funny or memorable that you’d like to mention?

Wayne: That's a tough one. We had a lot of fun moments because people were talking from the gut, not from the brain...that's the best way to play the game. One woman was all fired up and talking a mile a minute when all of a sudden she blurted out the name of an old boyfriend then asked to have it erased, of course we couldn't. But from puzzle to puzzle there would often be funny moments, but it's all so long ago!! Sorry, I guess I should have written a book at the time to preserve some fo the moments, but at the time, you never think about it?

Adam: Of course the best archives are the old tapes. Talk About lives pretty well on YouTube, but nothing that made us laugh out loud. It is the quintessential game show.

Adam: Times have changed since Talk About went off the air. 28 years later, would you jump at the opportunity to host it again if they produced new episodes?

Wayne: Oh sure, if they'd have me? Ha!

Adam: My final question is a bit open ended. Let’s say you had a chance to say thanks to your fan base in Canada and the USA for all your work and their dedication over the years. What would you like to say to them?

Wayne: What a great opportunity to say thank you. I've always been aware that there are a lot of television shows on TV, especially these days, and I know there are only so many hours in a day, and for people to take time out of their day to watch a show I'm hosting is very special to me. A great big thank you is all I can say, and I'm happy that something we did on any of the shows brought you some happiness and provided some entertainment along the way. Many thanks!
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Online priceguy

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Later, TV took over and was the resident TV weatherman for the top rated News program in the Vancouver area.

Yup, I watched Wayne every night on the BCTV (Global) News Hour. Who could forget his Hawaiian shirts and coveted ball-point pens. lol. Great interview, Adam!

Offline Chief-O

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Well the show that comes to mind is a show around the same time in Jackpot, hosted by Geoff Edwards, who was clearly not Canadian. At least that seems to be the interpretation to why the announcer got some extra air time.

I wonder if you meant "Chain Reaction". The 80s "Jackpot" was initially hosted by Mike Darow (who is Canadian); when Geoff took over, production moved to (IIRC) Glendale.

Offline someguy23475

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Darn, wish I knew about this, or I would have sent questions. Wayne was a great host. I wish he had more opportunities here in the States.

Offline mechamind

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Yup, I watched Wayne every night on the BCTV (Global) News Hour. Who could forget his Hawaiian shirts and coveted ball-point pens. lol. Great interview, Adam!
So it is THE Wayne Cox! I wondered if it was just going to be a similar name. Obsessed with the shirts, he is.  :P

Offline FieldsFan336

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I loved Acting Crazy, that was a fun show.  One of the later regular celebrity guests, Stu Jeffries (who also worked on a Blair Murdoch game show and as well hosted the 80s CBC music show Good Rockin' Tonite), is currently the weekday morning host on Boom 97.3, my favorite Toronto radio station
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