Say hello to Hollywood

It’s said everyone gets their 15 minutes of fame at some point. One USF student will start the journey to his 15 minutes today when he leaves to be a contestant on Hollywood Squares’ college tournament.

When the game show performed a contestant search at USF last semester, Bennie Cohen jumped at the chance to appear on the show.

“I thought I’d take a chance and see how it went,” Cohen said. “I always wanted to be a star.”

Now Cohen has his chance.

Hollywood Squares came to USF in the fall, wading through about one hundred or so applicants, Cohen said. Amid the throng of student game show fans turned hopeful Squares participants, Cohen emerged. Now, he will receive an all-expenses paid trip to Los Angeles where he will represent USF on national TV.

“I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity,” Cohen said.

Cohen will fly to the CBS studios in Los Angeles today for a weekend of taping Hollywood Squares. A trip to The Golden State will be a first for Cohen.

“I’ve never been to Cali before,” Cohen said. “I can’t wait to get out there.”

With the excitement surrounding Cohen’s trip to Los Angeles, the senior also has responsibilities here at USF.

Cohen is involved in many school activities, besides remaining a full-time college student. Planning to graduate in the fall, Cohen is also a member of Alpha Epsilon Pi, Hillel Jewish Student Organization and a regular intramural sports participant. So what’s the game show complement to fame? Ah, yes. Fortune. Hollywood Squares will give will Cohen the fame, but he says he looking for more.

“I saw a guy win $81,000 over three days on the show,” Cohen said. “I plan on taking home the gold.”

Though the opportunity to appear on TV is now guaranteed for Cohen, the money is not. Cohen said he still has to beat his opponents to the squares and deal with the overwhelming experience of being on TV at the same time.

“I should be fine, no doubt,” Cohen said. “I’m really not that shy of a guy.”

Cohen said he has a lot of support from his friends and family. His parents, however, live in North Carolina and do not receive the show on TV. Cohen said he’d get them a tape and maybe win them some money, too.

“It’s all about the money,” he said.

When asked what he’d do with thousands of dollars in winnings, Cohen said his parents would get a share, but there would be a few personal things to acquire.

“A new ride would definitely be in order,” Cohen said. “And I’ve been watching MTV’s Cribs to get a couple ideas for when I become a star.”

Cohen said he started watching Hollywood Squares regularly when he was notified he would be a contestant.

“I figured I might as well watch it if I’m gonna be on it,” Cohen said. “I think I’ve got all game rules and procedures down.”

Cohen said that if the situation came to an all-or-nothing decision, he’d stay smart with his winnings. He noted that if he had to lay thousands on the line at the end of the game for an opportunity to double it, a typical Hollywood Squares-contestant decision, he’d walk away.

“My mama didn’t raise no fool,” Cohen said.

Cohen assured that in the event he wins big, he wouldn’t forget his friends, family and school. He also said he received USF literature and a recording of the alma mater to bring to the show and that he’d wear the green and gold proudly.

“My heart belongs to the Bulls,” he said.

An appearance on television, a chance at thousands, an opportunity to meet show regulars Whoopi Goldberg, Bruce Vilanch, Brad Garrett, Gilbert Gottfried, host Tim Bergeron, and a free trip to Los Angeles – all in a week’s work for Bennie Cohen.

“It couldn’t get any better,” he said.

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