When Olmsted Township resident Jodi Dixon signed her family up online to audition for game show “Family Feud,” the 1990 Midpark High School graduate didn’t expect much. At best, perhaps the family would have fun trying out and maybe come away with a memory of a lifetime.
“It was last summer when I had heard that the auditions were coming to Cleveland,” said Dixon, 37, an Olmsted Township native. “We had always watched the show, so I went online and signed up to audition. At that point I had to call everyone and say, ‘Guess what I did? I put your names down and now we have to be at Nautica at 6 p.m. to audition.’ ”
Dixon’s “Family Feud” team included her 50-year-old husband Jim, who owns Gibbs Butcher Block in Columbia Township, as well as her 65-year-old mother Vicki Jancsi of Brook Park, 40-year-old sister Jennifer Graves of Brunswick and 26-year-old cousin Anna Marie Hubert of Lakewood.
“When we got there, it was bedlam,” Dixon said. “There were hundreds of people. It was like a zoo of people and you just have no idea what’s even going on. We didn’t know if we’d be interviewed or if we’d have to play the game.
“After our turn, as we were walking out, one of the casting directors called my name and said to talk to Simon. I thought that was weird because she hadn’t done that with anyone else we had seen. ... He filmed kind of a clip of the family to take back something for the producers to see. He said you should hear something in a few weeks.”
She added, “My thought was this was just something fun to do with the family, and we never take advantage of these things. But there’s no way they’re going to pick us. It was just ridiculous. There’s no way.”
Then the unlikely became a reality when the family members were notified in early August that they were selected and the show wanted to fly the Dixons out two weeks later.
“They flew us in on Friday and then on Saturday morning they pick you up and take you to the studio and you go through a mini-show,” Dixon said. “It wasn’t an audition, but they said based on how you do on the set and with lights and cameras, that’s how they’ll select what families will go on the show. They had chosen more families than shows they were going to tape, so we knew ahead of time there was a chance we’d get there and not be used. It was still that element of nervousness.”
Dixon said much of Saturday was spent waiting for her family’s shot in front of the cameras. However, waiting doesn’t mean in a cozy green room. Instead, they were used as audience members, which turned out to be a stressful affair.
“The craziest thing is you spend time in the audience, and there was this (audience coordinator) who was very serious about his job and he was very strict,” Dixon said. “We had instructions on how to clap, how to smile, how to sit in the audience. And while they were filming, if he spotted someone not clapping, when it would go to commercial break he’d go up to that person and tell them they needed to clap on cue. He was just crazy.
“You watch game shows and you’d never think in a billion years that being in the audience was that much work, but it was exhausting.”
Now, when it comes to meeting “Family Feud” host John O’Hurley, Dixon couldn’t say enough good things about the actor known for his roles in “Seinfeld” and “Spamalot.”
“I was in love with him,” Dixon laughed. “That’s one of the reasons I’m just dying for the show to come on because I think we were all just star struck by him that we’d probably just have this look on our face like being in awe. He’s just as charismatic and perfect in person as he is on TV. So he was great.”
She quickly added: “And very handsome.”
So the good news is the Dixon family did end up on the air. The bad news is the family members aren’t allowed to talk about how they did on the show. On the table is top prize money of $150,000, plus a brand new car. There’s also talk if they win a family trip to Disney World may be in the works.
On the air
- What: The Dixon family on “Family Feud.”
- When: 9 a.m. today
- Where: CBS affiliate WOIO-TV
Contact John Benson at 329-7155 or firstname.lastname@example.org.