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The Big Show

Last month, The Oracle reported on USF senior Bennie Cohen being chosen as a contestant for Hollywood Squares. Cohen won $2,500 on the show, which was filmed in January. On Friday, Cohen’s appearance aired, and he wrote to tell about his experiences in Hollywood.

I could not believe my luck. Who knew I, Bennie Cohen, would ever get a shot at being on a game show? People sit at home and yell at the television while watching game shows like the Price is Right, Jeopardy and Hollywood Squares. They think so many easy questions are asked to each contestant, and they say to themselves, “Where do they find these people? I could do so much better.” Then they even keep track of how much money they would have won if they had been on the show. Well, I became one of those people. I found myself going crazy just because someone did not answer a question that was easy for me but difficult for that person. I kept telling myself, “Once this show airs I will be that person that people are yelling at while watching the show.” So I decided not to yell too much at the television.

About two weeks before I flew to California, I received all my airline information. I flew out Jan. 24, and stayed at the Park Plaza Lodge in Los Angeles.

I checked in at the airport about two hours early and received my seat assignment; little did I know it was the last seat assignment, so I was sitting right next to the bathrooms. When I got off the plane, Eddie from Music Express (the limosine service) was holding the sign with my name on it (I got a picture of that) and took me to the car. Eddie took me on a sight-seeing tour of Hollywood before I went to the hotel. He took me by the L.A. Coliseum where, once upon a time, Magic Johnson played for the Lakers. I was hoping some of Magic’s magic would rub off on me.

The last stop before arriving at the hotel was the world-renowned Rosco’s Chicken and Waffles. I did not believe there was a Rosco’s, but to my surprise there was one right up the street from the hotel.

I arrived at the Park Plaza Lodge and met with a few of the other contestants, along with Robert, the guy who called and told me I was selected to be on Hollywood Squares. I received money for taxi fare and dinner expenses when I got there. How could things have been better? The first night, a few others and I went to Sunset Boulevard. We ate some sushi – what else do stars eat? Then we went back to the hotel and went to sleep early. Well, tried to go to sleep, but none of us could. We were ready to start making some money.

On Friday, Jan. 25, we went to the CBS offices where we played a few games and watched television so we would get a better feel for Hollywood Squares (as if none of us started watching when we knew we were going to be on). We also met a few other people who helped us along the way and answered any questions we had. That night, we went to Universal City Walk. As you can imagine, it was like the City Walk at Universal Studios in Orlando. I did, however, get to see the Chinese Theater and the Kodak Theater, where one of the award shows is going to be held this year. I got back to the hotel about 1 a.m. and had to wake up at 6:30 a.m.

The morning wake-up call from the front desk is so nice. For some reason, you really think someone is there to say good morning, but all it does is make an annoying sound so you really wake up. I got up, changed and waited with the other contestants to get a taxi so we could head to CBS Studios. When we arrived, we had to go through some metal detectors. Then we were off to the “green room.” For those of you who have never been in a green room, it is not green. While in the room, we had some breakfast and found out who would be on the show that day. I was hanging out with Cedric the Entertainer. He is one funny guy.

One of the best parts of the trip was not even being on the show, meeting famous people or chilling with people from across the country. I think the best part of the trip was sneaking around CBS and finding the prize of all prizes – the one, the only, wheel from the Price is Right. It was pure pandemonium. Everyone was trying to spin it.

Do not be fooled when you laugh at all the old people who try to spin the wheel on television. It was not easy for some. For me, well, it was money. But the others maybe got it around one full time. That was quite a moment to remember.

I can tell you that the whole experience was pure craziness. The director didn’t tell you when you were going to go. You had to wait, and someone would come and pull your sweatshirt off the rack. Everyone was excited about everything we had done, and the people who were with us the whole time were great.

This trip was one of the best things I have ever done in my whole life. It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance. Hopefully, the next time I am in Hollywood, I will be filming a movie or a show. This was a step toward stardom, and I relished every minute of it. I hope this show is just the beginning, but if it is not, what a way to go.

  • Contact Bennie Cohen at