Monday, July 27, 2015

Flop Card

I had forgotten about it until I saw a recent internet post.  We've been talking a lot about Donald Trump in recent weeks, but few remember a game show, with his name on it, back in the fall of 1990.

It was taped at a Trump hotel in Atlantic City, and it was called Trump Card.  Jimmy Cefalo was the host.

I was part time at the station that carried it, not WNEP, and here's what I remember at the time.

Cefalo was from Pittston, so the station thought Trump Card would be ratings gold.  It scheduled the show at 5 PM, replacing the very popular People's Court.

As I said, I was doing part time TV work back in 1990, and I don't know why I dropped by the station that afternoon.  I might have been working.  It might have been to say hello and talk with the news director.

There was a huge build up to Trump Card.  The station hosted a reception with Cefalo, advertisers, station employees and contest winners, if I recall correctly.  I do remember that I wasn't invited.  Jimmy cut customized promos for the station.  Management was pumped.

And then, Trump Card premiered.

I was in the office when 5 PM rolled around on that early September afternoon.  People's Court wasn't on.  Trump Card was.  The phones went nuts.  Viewers wanted Judge Wapner, and his black robe, not the tuxedo wearing Cefalo.

Several of us watched the premiere episode in the newsroom.  It wasn't awful.  It was far from great, sort of a Jeopardy rip-off, where you had to answer questions to fill spaces on a bingo type card.  There were a couple of twists, and the final two rounds were actually decent.  You can check it out for yourself.  Do a search on YouTube.

We smelled a loser.  Some staffers started calling it Flop Card.  The syndicator pulled the plug after one season.  I don't think my TV station carried Trump Card for the full year.

As for Jimmy Cefalo, I thought he was very smooth, very good.  He did football games for NBC, plus local radio and TV in Miami, where he starred with the Dolphins.  He wasn't on the national stage long.  I think that was his choice.  Cefalo was better than most of the football broadcasting talent out there.  He's still at it.

Even though Trump Card was a flop, I can see why the station dumped People's Court to carry it.  People's Court was still hot, and probably expensive.  Trump Card had the local connection.  It looked like a good lead-in to local news at 5:30 PM, but even Jimmy Cefalo couldn't save a mediocre product.

I don't remember what replaced it.