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Caught in the Act

Taped November 9 and 10, 1975 for ABC

The Show:

"The name of the game is Caught in the Act! And here are the celebrities who will try not to get caught!"

Bill sat on the panel of this unsold pilot from Bob Stewart Productions. At least two pilots were taped. On November 9, 1975, John Gabriel hosted. On November 10, Jim Peck hosted. The same panel appeared on both pilots; Bill was joined by Clifton Davis, Stephanie Braxton, Ann Meara, and Anita Gillette. Only the November 10 pilot has been available for screening, and this recap is based on that pilot.

 Two contestants, one represented by an arrow and one represented by a bow, compete. Jim announces most of the category ("It happens when a girl...") and the panelists are shown the key words ("Gets married"). The five celebrities go down the line announcing items that fit the category ("She calls her mother every day," "She buys a copy of The Sensuous Man," etc.) until one of the contestants rings in and gives a guess. If correct, that contestant "captures" the celebrity that gave the last clue. We have no idea what would happen in the event of a wrong answer (The opponent gets a free guess? Automatically captures the celebrity? Receives more clues?) because not one wrong answer is given in the pilot.

Regardless of if they have been captured, all of the celebrities continue giving clues for every subject. If a contestant rings in and gets a correct answer from a captured celebrity, they "steal" that celebrity from their opponent. The first contestant to capture three celebrities wins the game and $500, and goes on to play the bonus round for $5,000.

The bonus round is played by the contestant and the three celebrities s/he captured during the game. The four players are lined up in a row, with the contestant sitting in the third position. Each player is given an identity, and each identity is somehow connected to the one next to it (For example, "Bullfighter"-"Cape"-"Dracula"-"Neck"). To start, the identity of the first celebrity is announced, and s/he cross-examines the second celebrity about their identity, asking only yes-or-no questions. This continues until the identity is guessed, and then that celebrity cross-examines the contestant. This continues until that identity is guessed, and then the contestant tries to guess the identity of the third celebrity. If all of the identities are guessed within 60 seconds, the contestant wins $1,000. If all of the identities are guessed in 30 seconds or less, the contestant wins $5,000.


It was an effort to merge two popular formats of the day: the Pyramid guessing game with the celebrity interaction of Match Game.  The five celebrities even sat Match Game-style on a two tiered panel.  But it didn't quite work as a Match Game clone because, aside from Bill, these celebrities were not exactly known for their witty wordplay. And it didn't quite work as a Pyramid clone because playing that game without a clock proved unexciting. 

Jim Peck was at the helm, and because he was under a long-term contract with ABC at that point, we're certain this pilot was intended for ABC. Peck was a deservedly well-respected host of the seventies who was out of his element hosting a celebrity-driven game.

Bob Stewart was known for hanging onto ideas and re-working them until he could turn them into something that sold. The bonus round concept of answers that connected to each other was eventually altered into Bill's game Chain Reaction.

Caught in the Act game show Bill Cullen
Caught in the Act game show Bill Cullen Anita Gillette Clifton Davis Anne Meara
Caught in the Act game show Bill Cullen
Caught in the Act game show Bill Cullen Anne Meara
Caught in the Act game show Bill Cullen Anne Meara Anita Gillette
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