The Choice is Yours
Taped November 28, 1970 for ABC
"People from 43 states are in our studio audience today! In one moment, we'll ask this cross-section of America to voice their opinions on...The Choice is Yours!"
Bill asks the studio audience and the three panelists a hypothetical question, such as “Do you think it’s time to begin teaching sex education in grade schools?” (No, seriously, this was a question in the pilot.) The panelists place their votes and explain their reasoning, after which the studio audience vote their opinions. The panelist(s) whose opinion matches the majority of the studio audience receive points. If all three panelists match the audience majority, they receive 5 points apiece. If two panelists match, they win 10 points each. If only one matches, that panelist wins 15 points.
The highest score after four hypothetical situations wins the game and a bonus prize for their designated member of the studio audience (in the pilot, the winner gets a TV with Monty Hall’s picture pasted on it).
Some of the questions are posed in the form of pre-taped skits. In one, for example, a wife has to decide whether to play Scrabble to win or throw the game to appease her opponent, her husband’s annoying boss.
The game takes a rather interesting turn by taking some questions from home viewers asking for advice. In the pilot, the home viewer is a father asking if he should forbid his teenage daughter from attending an anti-Vietnam demonstration.
Buried somewhere in this weirdness is a potentially fascinating game. Using current events and public opinion polls would certainly have been something new in 1970 when the pilot was taped (and heck, it would even stand out now). The idea of in-studio panelists answering questions from viewers wasn’t new (Juvenile Jury and Life Begins at 80 were both doing this in the 1950s) but making a game show out of it sounds like an interesting concept.
In the pilot, the celebrities did the best they could to wring entertainment out of a dull and rather pointless game (what's with the political motif?) but it's easy to see why this didn't get picked up by the network.
The show was produced by Stefan Hatos & Monty Hall. The duo had famously uprooted Let's Make a Deal from NBC to ABC in a heated contract renegotiation in 1968.
As part of their ABC contract, Hatos-Hall Productions was allowed to mount three pilots for the network. The Choice is Yours was one of the pilots that was developed as part of that agreement, but it was over a year before ABC finally picked up another series developed by Hatos-Hall Productions. That show, Split Second with Tom Kennedy, would run for over three years. It's interesting to note that Split Second would employ a very similar scoring system, so somebody involved with this pilot must have liked it a lot.
The announcer for this pilot was Let's Make a Deal's own Jay Stewart. Although he was a ubiquitous voice on game shows for years, this pilot actually marks the only time that he and Bill crossed paths professionally.
We're fairly certain at least two pilots were shot. Publicity stills were shot with Bill on the set with a studio audience, but the suit Bill is wearing in the photos doesn't match the suit he's wearing in the pilot that we've screened. This pilot is available for viewing in the UCLA Archives.