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Temptation: The New Sale of the Century is a television game show loosely based on both the original Australian and American Sale of the Century versions, plus the 2005 Australian version, also titled Temptation. The show began airing in syndication on September 10, 2007, with the last first-run episode airing on May 23, 2008. Reruns continued until September 5, 2008.
The series was hosted by Rossi Morreale with former talk show host Rolonda Watts as announcer. Temptation was produced by FremantleMedia North America, and syndicated by 20th Television.
As with other syndicated half-hour programs, Temptation aired two episodes in some markets, with the second episode at a later production date. In July 2008, Temptation was canceled due to low ratings (it was the lowest among game shows during the 2007–2008 season) and replaced by Trivial Pursuit: America Plays on most stations.
The game was played in two rounds, each containing several parts. Three contestants, one a returning champion, each started the game with 20 "Temptation dollars" (T$).
This round was broken down into three parts: a "Speed Round", an "Instant Bargain", and a "Fame Game":
- Speed Round: Morreale asked a series of rapid-fire pop culture questions over 30 seconds; correct answers were worth $5 while incorrect responses cost $5.
- Instant Bargain: The leader after the initial Speed Round was offered a chance to spend some of their "Temptation dollars" to purchase a prize at a discount. Played just like the original Sale of the Century Instant Bargains, the host often offered extra incentives (e.g., reducing the price, offering extra cash, or offering additional tickets if the offer includes a trip) to entice the contestant. However, if two or all three contestants were tied, a Dutch auction was frequently conducted. The only stylistic difference was that instead of the host saying "Going once... going twice...", the player was placed on a five-second "Shop Clock".
- Fame Game: The host read clues pertaining to a famous person, place, thing, etc. from a first-person perspective. Unlike the 1980s version, letters filled in a puzzle one at a time on the monitor behind the host. The contestant who answered correctly had $15 added to their score.
After the first commercial break, the second round consisted of "Knock-Off", a second Instant Bargain, a second speed round, "Instant Cash", and one final speed round.
- Knock-Off: A category was announced and 12 possible answers were shown; nine answers were correct while three were incorrect. Each contestant, in turn, selected one of the answers. A correct answer turned gold and was worth additional Temptation dollars (four $2 answers, three $5 answers, a $10 answer and a $15 answer; some boards had two $3 answers replacing two worth $2). An incorrect answer turned red and eliminated that contestant for the remainder of that round. Play continued until the last correct answer was found or all three players had been eliminated. In general, the less obvious an answer was, the more it was worth.
- Instant Bargain: Played as before but for a slightly more expensive prize.
- Speed Round #2: Two answers were given before the start of the round, both usually with a similar theme (e.g., "Winger or Gunslinger" and contestants had to identify films as starring Debra Winger or Westerns, which were sometimes called Gunslingers). Once again, the speed round lasted for 30 seconds, and questions were worth $5 up or down.
- Instant Cash: Based on the Sale of the Century round, the leader at that point was offered a chance at a cash jackpot which began at $500 and rose by that amount until it was claimed or reached the maximum of $5,000, where it remained until claimed. To play, the contestant had to give up their entire lead over the second-place opponent; also as before, if two or more contestants were tied, a Dutch auction was conducted (it usually started at the difference between the tied players and third place). If a contestant opted to play, Morreale showed them three colored wallets (red, white, and brown), one of which contained the jackpot; the other two held only $100.
- Speed Round #3: After a second commercial break, a final 30-second round of questions was played, however each answer was worth +/- $10.
The contestant with the highest score was the champion and advanced to Shopper's Paradise for the "Shopping Spree of a Lifetime". If two or more contestants were tied, a tiebreaker question was played. The contestant who had the right answer earned $10 and became the champion. If not, the opponent won $10 and became the champion.
The losers kept any cash and prizes won during the main game; unlike earlier incarnations of Sale of the Century, no contestants received their score in cash, as "Temptation dollars" (T$) were not valid currency. Any player who had not won any prizes up to the end of the game received unacknowledged parting gifts.
The end game was played in two parts:
- Super Knock-Off: Nearly identical to the main-game round, except six answers were correct and six answers were incorrect. Correct choices netted the contestant anywhere from $25 to $100. Four answers were worth $25, one was worth $50, and one was worth $100 (for a cumulative maximum of $250). The contestant could stop at any time, as a wrong answer ended the game and forfeited any cash accumulated during that round.
- Shopper's Paradise: Almost the same in concept as the original "shopping" format from the 1969–1974 Sale of the Century, the contestant was shown five prizes, each in ascending value, at greatly reduced prices; the most expensive prize was usually a car, but sometimes an expensive trip was offered instead. After all five prizes were announced, the contestant was given time during the final commercial break, which also included promotional consideration credits, to ponder whether they wanted to buy a prize (as long as there was enough money available), or bank their score and return on the next show to try to buy one of the more expensive items. In the event that a contestant did not have enough money to buy any prize, they were offered the chance to either buy a Croton diamond watch with their winnings or return to the next show. Like prior versions, the bonus prizes changed each week.
Unlike the Australian version and the 1980s Sale of the Century, there was no opportunity to buy all on-stage prizes nor receive a cash jackpot for accumulating a high amount of money.
A contestant continued as champion until they purchased a prize from "Shopper's Paradise" (as with the 1980s version, a contestant who had accumulated enough money to do so could not buy more than one prize), had accumulated enough money to purchase the top prize, or was defeated. Unlike previous versions, a five-time champion was forced to retire and buy any prize they could afford, whether or not it was the top prize.
From November 19–21, 2007, and again from November 26–28, Temptation aired two 3-day tournaments where three former contestants returned and played for the entire tournament. The contestants were different for each of the two tournaments. Rules remained similar for each tournament, except that contestants started each game with $30. The winner of each game played Super Knock Off. The winner of day 1 and 2 played Super Knock Off, but did not go to "Shopper's Paradise". In day 3, a special 10% off coupon to be used in Shopper's Paradise was presented for the contestant in the lead for the second Instant Bargain if the contestant accepted the bargain. Only the winner of day 3 went to "Shopper's Paradise". The first champion bought $10,000 cash, while the second bought a 10-day trip to Thailand.
Before commercial breaks, offers for products at discounted prices were advertised. These items were purchased online at the show's official site. The offers were originally separate items, but later became generic "60% off retail" plug offers.
There were five contestants that went all the way to the top grand prize on the show (a car in all cases), and four won it. Three contestants who won the grand prize were male and only one was female. The only other female contestant went all the way but failed to win the car.
The show's first grand champion, Mark Coyle, later appeared on Million Dollar Password in December 2008 and repeated his success, winning $100,000 with celebrity partner Aisha Tyler.
Temptation was based on the Australian series of the same name, itself a revival of Sale of the Century. The two pilots were filmed on the Australian set with the show's eventual mini-games in place; unlike the series, the pilots used the Australian sound effects and theme (the former based on the 1980s Sale sounds).
Owned-and-operated stations of MyNetworkTV were among the stations carrying the show, as was the former WTBS Atlanta (currently known as Peachtree TV). MyNetworkTV aired two sneak preview episodes featuring American Idol alumni Mikalah Gordon, Justin Guarini, and Kimberly Caldwell on September 5, 2007 in prime time. These episodes were aired again on March 13 and March 14, 2008.
Before the series premiered, writers went on strike because FremantleMedia refused to recognize the Writers Guild of America, west|Writers Guild of America as the writers' chosen labor representative.
First taped week
The first taped week of the series did not air until March 3–7, 2008 and featured a slightly different game structure. The show began with Speed Round #1 followed by Instant Bargain #1, the Fame Game, and Speed Round #2.
After the first commercial break, Knock-Off was played followed by Instant Bargain #2, a second Fame Game worth $25, Instant Cash, and Speed Round #3.
In addition, the price tags at Shopper's Paradise were white instead of orange, and Morreale showed the winning contestant around while Watts described the prizes.
With the exception of the preview episodes, which rated 0.8, Temptation never rose above 0.5 in the Nielsen rating system, making it the least-watched game show on broadcast television that year; the next lowest-rated game, Merv Griffin's Crosswords, maintained a 0.8–1.0 share.
Although the final first-run episode of Temptation aired on May 23, 2008, the show's official cancellation was not announced until July 29. The final episode was later broadcast as the last repeat on September 5, making it one of only a handful of programs to do so. The series was replaced with Trivial Pursuit: America Plays on most stations that carried it, although Pursuit inherited the low ratings its predecessor had and was canceled in April 2009.
- Writers Guild of America West Pickets Tribune Studio’s Temptation - 9/18/2007 1:15:00 PM - Broadcasting & Cable
- Downey, Kevin. Syndicated TV's new star: "Family Guy", Media Life. October 4, 2007