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Professor West, Come on Down!

Professor Richard West came on down as the next contestant on… The Price Is Right Monday, March 26.

For seven and a half minutes, West, sporting a custom-made “By George, I Wanna Meet Drew” T-shirt, guessed the price of consumer goods, schmoozed with host Drew Carey, and walked away with an LG smartphone with a year of unlimited data, $1,000 cash, a home fitness center, and $3,000-plus washer and dryer set.

As he told Carey, West’s washer/dryer back home in Boston recently bit the dust.

“It definitely became more exciting when I saw the washer/dryer, it might as well have been a Mercedes,” he said.

West, who teaches in the Communication Studies Department, is out at Emerson Los Angeles this semester, teaching courses on the Norman Lear Sitcom and Gender, Sexuality and Communication. He said he’s been immersing himself in every aspect of the entertainment industry, and decided to buy a couple of tickets to the long-running CBS game show for a February 5 taping.

Going solo after his partner came down with the flu, West said he arrived early at 8:00 am, waited until 9:00 am, and then waited in line to go through security. Then he waited in line some more.

At one point in the queue, audience members were called up one at a time to the railing to speak with a producer (“It’s almost like meeting the pope.”). West said he told the producer he was a professor of communication and that unlike most people, Plinko was not his favorite Price Is Right game.

Little did he know, that brief exchange sealed his fate.

They were herded into the Bob Barker Studio, where the cast of Aladdin the Musical was leading some kind of dance party. West said he was having such a good time, he wasn’t even thinking about being selected, but when the show started, Richard West became the first Emerson College faculty member (as far as we know) to be beckoned to “Come on down!”

Only six contestants per episode are picked out of roughly 325 audience members.

“I teach social science research methods, I know the probability of [getting selected],” West said. “My shock was that I beat the probability, not that I got called up to Contestants’ Row.”

Once in the game, West was helped along by someone who hasn’t, yet, beaten those odds. The man sitting behind him had come to the show 25 times and was never chosen to be a contestant, but he sure knew what things cost.

“I just found the guy who had been there 25 times and kept looking at him,” West said.

West said he was sworn to secrecy until the episode aired Monday, but since then, he’s been hearing from tons of people who saw him, including a woman in Pittsburgh whom he taught when he was a teaching assistant in 1984.

“The whole LA campus was like, ‘That’s so you!’”  he said.

West said his forays into the LA entertainment scene have been useful, and that he’s been making lots of new connections that could benefit students. But he probably won’t see Drew Carey again any time soon.

“Now I’m banned from being a part of Let’s Make a Deal or the Price Is Right for ten years,” he said.

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