February 27, 2009 11:34 AM
For the 5,000th time in syndication, contestants will buy vowels and opt to solve the puzzle on “Wheel of Fortune” tonight.
“Fortune,” in its 26th season, celebrated the milestone with a cake in the shape of “5,000,” along with host Pat Sajak and famed letter-turner Vanna White reminiscing about their favorite moment: their on-screen kiss, which was interrupted by show creator Merv Griffin.
“I think [‘Wheel’] could last indefinitely,” executive producer Harry Friedman said. “It feels almost like a sports franchise.”
Mr. Friedman said that each renewal of the show gives the producers the ability to plan out the strategy of the program three to four years at a time. This most recent renewal had the show focus on technology, including its leap into high definition, as well as providing the game in different digital formats, like online and on mobile devices.
As for the next 5,000 episodes, Mr. Friedman said the syndicated product is holding steady, downplaying the possibilities of any prime-time specials. As for Mr. Sajak and Ms. White, Mr. Friedman said he hasn’t heard any talk of retirement from “Wheel.”
Mr. Friedman said America’s appetite for game shows is growing, and he said he wouldn’t be surprised to see the classics, like “The $100,000 Pyramid,” return to the airwaves in the near future.