Record-setting “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!” executive producer Harry Friedman received a star Friday on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The ceremony coincided with the conclusion of “Wheel of Fortune’s” “Home Sweet Home Week,” which offers viewers the grand prize of a home in the Latitude Margaritaville communities in Daytona Beach, Florida, or Hilton Head, South Carolina, and three days before the start of “Jeopardy!’s” 2019 Tournament of Champions.
“Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek and “Wheel of Fortune” hosts Pat Sajak and Vanna White were among those joining Friedman at the ceremony in front of the El Centro Complex at 6200 Hollywood Blvd., near the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street.
His star is next to Sajak’s and is the 2,680th since the completion of the Walk of Fame in 1961 with the first 1,558 stars.
Friedman holds three Guinness world records — most game show episodes produced, with more than 12,620; most Emmy nominations for a game show producer, 48; and most Emmys for a game show producer, 14.
“The magic is reflected in the loving eyes and the smiling faces of the studio audience,” Friedman said. “And it’s a feeling I know is shared by millions of viewers every night who know where to go for the magic.”
Friedman’s other honors include selection to the NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame and Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame and a lifetime achievement award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
He became producer of “Wheel of Fortune” in 1995, “Jeopardy!” producer in 1997 and executive producer of both shows in 1999. He is responsible for all elements of both shows, overseeing 200 employees, some of whom work on both shows.
Under Friedman, “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!” became the first syndicated programs to be broadcast in high definition in September 2006. He also championed the development of the mobile devices for both shows, along with versions for Amazon Echo, Facebook, Nintendo’s Wii and Sony PlayStation.
In 2003, Friedman lifted “Jeopardy!’s” five-day rule for contestants, which dated back to its original 1964-75 daytime run on NBC. The change enabled Ken Jennings’ 2004 record-setting run of 74 consecutive victories.
In 2011, Friedman oversaw the “Jeopardy! The IBM Challenge,” where Jennings and Brad Rutter, “Jeopardy!’s” record money-winner, played against an IBM computer.
For “Wheel of Fortune,” Friedman implemented the “Triple Toss Up,” “Express Wedge,” “1/2 Car Tag,” “Free Play” and “Toss Up” puzzles, along with the “Mystery Round,” “Jackpot Round,” the “Wild Card” and the “Million Dollar Wedge.”
Friedman extended the reach of “Wheel of Fortune” with a daily “Twitter Toss Up,” in which the “Wheel of Fortune” Twitter account posts partially solved puzzles and followers compete to see who will solve them first, along with various Facebook Live events including voting on White’s dresses and allowing users to guess toss-up puzzles and test their skills against former contestants, and posting photos on Instagram.
Friedman was raised in Omaha, Nebraska, where he would hang around its television stations, learning by watching and doing whatever management permitted. He arrived in Los Angeles in 1971 without contacts and gave himself six months to find a job.
With less than 24 hours remaining on his self-imposed deadline, Friedman landed a part-time question-writer spot on “The Hollywood Squares,” going on to write and produce thousands of its episodes, and was also actively involved in the development of several other game shows for Heatter-Quigley Productions over the following 11 years.
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