Wheel of Fortune History Wiki
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Celebrity Wheel of Fortune is a spin-off of Wheel of Fortune that airs on ABC. Like the main version of the show, it is hosted by Pat Sajak and Vanna White, with Jim Thornton as announcer and Mike Richards as executive producer.

This incarnation of the show is the first time since People Celebrity Week in November 2007 that celebrities have been involved as contestants. Not counting the Halloween 2000 "Unmask the Stars" episode, it is also the first time since Celebrity Week in November 1997 that celebrities have played without being accompanied by civilians.

Celebrity Wheel was first confirmed to be greenlit in a Variety article on November 9, 2020. The show premiered on January 7, 2021 at 8:00 PM Eastern (7:00 PM Central).

In Canada, Season 1 aired on Yes TV, the same network that carries the syndicated version. For Season 2, the show moved to CTV, with repeats airing on E! the following Saturday.

This marks the first time since 1991 that Wheel has aired on network television (first since 1998 if Wheel 2000 is counted), the first time since 1976 that it has aired as an hour-long show, and the first primetime version of Wheel in the United States.

Changes from the syndicated version

  • A new set is used:
    • The puzzle board has a third LED border added behind the existing two. There are also golden arched light structures behind it.
    • The puzzle board's steps are no longer carpeted and have LED strips to match the board. This and the above carry over to the syndicated version starting February 15.
    • The video wall is flanked by two glass Wheel cutouts with LED light effects. One of these cutouts was last used in early Season 28, while the other is newly-constructed featuring the Wheel's current values. These structures are surrounded by gold arches reminiscent of the 1981-94 puzzle board border.
    • Several blue spotlights are added throughout the set.
    • The video wall behind the contestant area is not used. Instead, a large white and gold Wheel of Fortune logo is suspended behind it.
  • This version is rated TV-PG, due to the slightly more "adult" puzzle writing and banter from Pat and the celebrities.
  • Pat and Vanna make their entrance from behind the video wall, emerging from either side and meeting in front of it.
  • As with other ABC primetime shows, the show has an audio description track.
  • As with other ABC primetime shows, episodes are available to stream on Hulu. This marks the first time that any form of Wheel is legally available for streaming, predating the addition of select episodes to Netflix in February 2021.
  • All of the music cues except for the Toss-Up think bed, Final Spin, Speed-Up cue, and the bonus round cues are given new rearrangements by Bleeding Fingers Music.
  • Vanna wears a microphone for the entire show, allowing her to interact with Pat and the celebrities throughout.
  • Jim's intro is "Tonight on Celebrity Wheel of Fortune: [names of celebrities, accompanied by pictures and clips of them]... all playing for over $2,000,000 tonight on Celebrity..." followed by the title chant.
  • During the interviews, each celebrity's name and charity is shown in burgundy text on a golden rectangle.
  • Some of the celebrities' name tags use the font Helvetica Neue Black Condensed (a bolder variant of the font used for the puzzle board letters) instead of Arial Black. This later happens sporadically on Season 38 of the syndicated version, and becomes permanent on Season 39.
  • Due to the celebrities not being as familiar with the game, Pat explains some of the rules and categories more thoroughly than in regular play.
  • During gameplay, there are fewer shots of the puzzle board than on normal episodes due to the increased focus on the celebrities.
  • Each hour-long episode consists of two full games of three rounds each (similarly to how some road show and celebrity games were done in the late 1990s). As a result, $3,500 is only used in Round 2 and $5,000 is used in Round 3. Also, the first game's Round 3 is completed without going to Speed-Up, the first time since 2000 that a game may be completed without one. As with the syndicated version in Rounds 4+, puzzles used in Round 3 never exceed two rows. Each game also has its own Bonus Round, allowing for the possibility of the same celebrity playing the Bonus Round twice.
  • Each round includes a bonus for solving the puzzle: $5,000 in Round 1, $10,000 in Round 2, and $20,000 in Round 3 (plus any subsequent rounds in the second half).
  • There is a $30,000 minimum for the full hour.
  • There are four Million-Dollar Wedges, used in Rounds 2 and 3. They are on the green $500 wedges next to the pink $600, the green $500 wedge next to the orange $900, the blue $700, and the blue $600. Any wedges lost in Round 2 are put back on the Wheel for Round 3. If a celebrity lands on another wedge while already carrying one, it is treated as a $1,000 wedge. Pat points out the addition of the wedges in each game as a full overhead shot is shown; this overhead shot is clearly added in post-production, as it shows $2,500, and the yellow arrow is on Lose a Turn.
  • Home viewers may submit each game's Round 2 puzzles to the show's website for a chance to win $10,000. After each game's Round 1, Vanna does a bumper from the puzzle board promoting said giveaway. The abc.com and Hulu versions have all references to the giveaways edited out (except where noted), with the second half's Round 2 fading to black after Pat recaps the totals. Reruns that air on TV do not edit out the giveaways despite expiring beforehand.
  • The Triple Toss-Ups are $5,000 each, and are played before Round 3.
  • At the start of the second game, each celebrity's running total is shown on their scoreboard before the $1,000 Toss-Up. This results in the possibility of the scoreboards displaying six- or seven-figure amounts.
  • Crosswords and Same Letter are not used.
  • The Mystery Wedges, Prize Wedge, Gift Tag, Wild Card, Free Play, and Express are not used. Free Play is replaced by an orange $950, the first time this value has ever been used in gameplay (it had previously appeared in other contexts).
  • In Season 1 only, song and movie puzzles that date earlier than 2000 are specified with the decade (e.g. 70's Song Lyrics). This marks the first time since Season 35 that a category has a decade added to it, and the first time since Season 17 that it uses a decade other than 80's. Anything referencing material from the 21st Century (with songs in particular being much more common than on the main show) use the regular category. Regardless of date, Pat usually states the title and artist of song puzzles, or the source of a movie quote, after they are solved.
  • The frames of the puzzle board, category strip, "drop-down" score indicators, and "White Things" are all gold.
  • The Wheel's base is colored yellowish-pink.
  • The Bonus Wheel's wedges retain their colors from the main show, but fade between gold and blue whenever Pat reveals a $1,000,000 envelope's location.
  • The "drop-down" score indicators appear almost every time the board is shown starting in Round 2.
  • The Toss-Ups and Final Spin have new wipes in the same style as the opening graphic.
  • During the Bonus Round, the other two celebrities stand at the red podium, but are not allowed to help.
  • The Bonus Wheel has four $100,000 envelopes, while the other amounts are $75,000, $50,000, and $25,000. If the $100,000 is won, the confetti does not drop. The $25,000 was never landed on in Season 1, suggesting it is less frequent than the other amounts.
  • All envelopes use the traditional logo, unlike the main show's use of the two-row logo for the $100,000 and $1,000,000 envelopes.
  • If a Million-Dollar Wedge is taken to the Bonus Round, the $1,000,000 only replaces one of the four $100,000 envelopes, resulting in both top prizes being available.
  • After the first game's Bonus Round, there is a bumper where Jim says "Don't go away! [Names of celebrities] still have a chance to win $1,000,000 for their charity. More Celebrity Wheel of Fortune coming up next."
  • There is no closing chat. Immediately after the second Bonus Round, Vanna joins Pat at the Bonus Wheel before they sign off.
  • As with most of ABC's other game shows, the episodes' airing order is arranged strategically, radically different from taping order, such that the more notable games air early on. Unlike the syndicated version, there is no set air date for the episode as it is taped. While most of the other ABC game shows number their episodes in the order taped, Celebrity Wheel of Fortune episodes are numbered in the order which they are initially planned to air and not in taping order.
  • Audience sound effects are used instead of a studio audience.

Timeline

Season 1 (2021)

Consists of eight episodes, taped December 3-4 and 10-11, 2020. New episodes air on Thursdays at 8:00 PM Eastern/Pacific. It is grouped with The Chase and The Hustler under ABC's "Winter Fun & Games".

January 2021:

  • On January 7 (Episode #101: Leslie Jones for Feeding America/Chandra Wilson for Los Angeles Regional Food Bank/Tony Hawk for Feeding San Diego):
    • Vanna wears a sleeveless top and pants.
    • For the only time this season, both Bonus Rounds are won.
    • In the first game:
      • The $2,000 Toss-Up is only the second instance of Song/Artist being used as a Toss-Up.
      • Tony is credited for a correct response to the second Triple Toss-Up A FROG IN MY THROAT despite not ringing in.
    • In the second game:
      • The Round 1 puzzle KARMA KARMA KARMA KARMA KARMA CHAMELEON has 11 A's, setting a new record for the most vowels in one puzzle and tying the record for the most instances of any letter in a puzzle.
      • The abc.com and Hulu versions accidentally leave Vanna's second giveaway bumper intact.
      • There is a $100,000 win.
      • Tony becomes the highest winner of the season with $173,800.
  • On January 10, a repeat of #101 airs. This is the first time since at least 2003 (on Game Show Network) that any form of Wheel has officially aired on television on a Sunday (not counting a small number of markets that air the main show's weekend repeats on Sundays; they are officially meant for Saturdays).
  • On January 14 (Episode #102: Drew Carey for Greater Cleveland Food Bank/Teri Hatcher for The People Concern/Chrissy Metz for Blessings in a Backpack):
    • The intro somewhat spoils the outcome, as it includes a clip of Drew saying "Show Biz" (the category he selected for the first game's Bonus Round).
    • Vanna wears a sleeveless top and pants.
    • In the first game:
      • The $2,000 Toss-Up FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT is categorized as Phrase instead of Rhyme Time.
      • The "No More Vowels" graphic does not appear when Teri buys the last vowel in Round 2.
    • In the second game:
      • Teri solves the third Triple Toss-Up WHERE AM I? with only the I showing.
      • For only the fourth known time, the "No More Vowels" graphic appears in the Speed-Up.
  • On January 16, a repeat of #102 airs.
  • On January 21 (Episode #103: Rob Riggle for Meals on Wheels/Joe Tessitore for Wide Horizons for Children/Jeannie Mai for No Kid Hungry):
    • The opening and multiple promos show Jeannie taking pictures on her phone. This is edited out of the actual show.
    • Stephen Curry does a video greeting after the interviews.
    • In the first game, the $2,000 Toss-Up is the first appearance of TV Quote since February 2018.
    • In the second game:
      • Nobody solves the $2,000 Toss-Up A STORYBOOK BROMANCE.
      • The second Triple Toss-Up DYING MY HAIR is misspelled (it should be "dyeing").
      • Joe's final total is incorrectly displayed as $30,200 (which he won in the last round) instead of $52,350.
      • The bonus puzzle TIP JAR is only the fifth since 2009 to be shorter than seven letters. It also uses only one line.
      • There is a $100,000 loss.
  • On January 23, a repeat of #103 airs.
  • On January 28 (Episode #104: Constance Zimmer for World Central Kitchen/Maria Menounos for The Brain Trust at Cedars-Sinai/Yvette Nicole Brown for DonorsChoose):
    • The first game has a $100,000 win.
    • In the second game:
      • The $1,000 Toss-Up WHERE THE MAGIC HAPPENS is categorized as Phrase instead of Place.
      • Yvette fails to solve the bonus puzzle A CAMEO APPEARANCE with only the M and O missing, and misses the $1,000,000 by only one envelope.

February 2021:

  • On February 4, ABC airs a "Wheel-a-Thon" consisting of repeats of #102, #103, and #104. These are the last repeat airings of Season 1. For the $10,000 giveaway, the show's social media announces that "any answers" will be accepted, though viewers still only get one entry for the week.
  • On February 11 (Episode #105: Paul Reubens for Feeding America/Nicole Byer for The Okra Project/Joel McHale for Union Rescue Mission):
    • Nicole wears a cast on her right foot.
    • In the first game, Paul calls a P before spinning in Round 2, but Pat against precedent, Pat tells him that he is not held to that call. He ends up calling a D instead after spinning.
    • In the second game:
      • Before the Bonus Round, due to Joel having repeatedly hit Bankrupt and Lose a Turn in both games, Pat presents him with a Bankrupt wedge.
      • There is a $100,000 loss.
  • On February 18 (Episode #107: Jennie Garth for Central Illinois Food Bank/Karamo Brown for Hollywood Food Coalition/Patton Oswalt for World Central Kitchen):
    • This episode is swapped with #106 due to controversy over Chris Harrison's defending of The Bachelor contestant Rachael Kirkconnell after she attended an Antebellum South-themed ball.
    • In the first game:
      • Neither Bankrupt nor Lose a Turn is hit.
      • After the Bonus Round, Vanna promotes Disney's Magic of Storytelling partnership with First Book, with the board reading MAGIC OF STORYTELLING.
    • In the second game:
      • The $1,000 Toss-Up is the first appearance of Movie Quote since April 4, 2019.
      • There is a $100,000 win.
  • On February 25 (Episode #106: Robert Herjavec for Seattle's Union Gospel Mission/Chris Harrison for Feeding America/Alfonso Ribeiro for No Kid Hungry):
    • Due to the aforementioned controversy, a disclaimer reading "This episode was previously recorded in December 2020" appears during Chris' interview and again at the top of the second half. Also, this episode receives noticeably less promotion than the others. Any promos that do air do not feature Chris, and ABC and Wheel's social media do not post recaps of the celebrities' winning totals after the episode airs.
    • Both 80's Song Lyrics and 80's Movie Quote are used in the first game.

March 2021:

  • On March 4 (Episode #108: Rachael Leigh Cook for Feeding America/Sherri Shepherd for Reel Beauty/Kevin Nealon for The Store in Nashville):
    • Two comments made by the celebrities indicate that the episode was taped with an uncertain air date: Rachael mentions that her made-for-TV movie Cross Country Christmas aired "last month", and Sherri mentions that her show Call Your Mother is premiering in January.
    • In the second game:
      • Round 2 is a Same Name of VANNA & WALTER WHITE. Ironically, Sherri and Kevin both struggle with the first word, even after both of them call to Vanna for help. When Rachael solves, she tells the others that "the answer is right in front of us."
      • Pat does not use his Gold Thing when doing the Final Spin.

Post-Season:

  • In July 2021, pop singer Jordan McGraw releases the music video for his single "SHE", which was filmed June 10 on the Celebrity Wheel of Fortune set.

Season 2 (2021)

Episodes air on Sundays at 8:00 PM Eastern/Pacific. It is paired with Supermarket Sweep. These shows are not branded with the "Fun & Games" moniker.

Season Changes

  • There is now a second set of contestant interviews done after the second half's $1,000 Toss-Up.
  • The decade variants of the song and movie categories are used less often, and are sometimes not used even if the subject dates earlier than 2000.
  • The puzzle writing is now more family-friendly, on par with the syndicated version. However, the show is still rated TV-PG.
  • The credits are in a smaller font.
  • The audio description now spells out partial puzzles at sporadic points throughout the game (for example, "WH__L OF FO_T_N_" would be read as "W-H-blank-blank-L... of... F-O-blank-T-blank-N-blank").
  • Due to this season taping between Seasons 38 and 39 of the syndicated version, some changes from the latter, but not all, carry over to this series:
    • A remix of "Changing Keys" (different from the version used on the syndicated version at this point) is used for the main theme. All other music cues from the previous season remain.
    • The Final Spin is now done by the contestant who has control when the bell rings.
    • The shots of the board are now zoomed in further, cropping the far left and right monitors on the middle two rows on 4:3 screens.
    • The name tags permanently use the font Helvetica Neue Black Condensed.
    • All on-screen graphics remain the same as Season 1 (and where applicable, Season 38 of the syndicated version).

September 2021:

  • On September 20, all Season 1 episodes are removed from ABC On Demand and Hulu.
  • On September 26 (Episode #201: Cheryl Burke/Jason Alexander/Michael Mizanin):
    • Instead of ordering them based on their positions, the episode title and intro list the celebrities in the following order: Jason Alexander/Michael Mizanin/Cheryl Burke.
    • For the first time, both Bonus Rounds are played by the same celebrity.
    • Neither Bankrupt nor Lose a Turn is hit for the entire hour.
    • In the first game:
      • After Cheryl solves the $1,000 Toss-Up WHO LET THE DOGS OUT?, Pat quizzes her on the song's artist (Baha Men), as shown in promos, but this is edited out of the actual show.
      • Jason solves the Round 1 puzzle YOU'RE GONNA NEED A BIGGER BOAT with only the D, E's, and R's showing.
      • Cheryl does not get a turn for the entire game (although she does solve the $1,000 Toss-Up). This is first known time this has happened in a game of any version of Wheel of Fortune. Cheryl does not get to touch the Wheel until the second game's Round 2.
      • No turns are lost for the entire game.
    • In the second game:
      • The $1,000 Toss-Up CAN I PHONE A FRIEND? is inexplicably categorized as Phrase instead of TV Quote.
      • When the $2,000 Toss-Up is solved, the cue from the syndicated 2017-21 music package is accidentally used.
      • For the first time, a fourth round is played.
      • During the Bonus Round, as Vanna adds Jason's picks, the audio description misspells "H_LD" with two blanks.
      • There is a $100,000 win.
      • The Bonus Wheel retains its normal colors when Pat reveals the $1,000,000 envelope's location.

October 2021:

  • On October 3 (Episode #202: Caroline Rhea/Andy Richter/Vanilla Ice):
    • Instead of ordering them based on their positions, the episode title and intro list the celebrities in the following order: Andy Richter/Vanilla Ice/Caroline Rhea.
    • The $10,000 giveaway entry form is not made available until the West Coast airing.
    • Both Bonus Rounds are won.
    • In the first game, Round 1 (I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER) is categorized as Movie Title instead of Title, going against the precedent of using only Title for a title that exists in more than one medium.
  • On October 10 (Episode #203: Donny Osmond/Jeff Garlin/Amber Riley):
    • Although two Song Lyrics puzzles dating from the 1970's are used, only the second of the two (the second game's $2,000 Toss-Up) appends "70's" to the category
    • Both Bonus Rounds are won.
    • In the first game, there is a $100,000 win.
    • In the second game, Amber solves the bonus puzzle A BOWL OF FRUIT with only the A, L, R, and T showing.
  • On October 17 (Episode #204: Melissa Joan Hart/Tituss Burgess/Lacey Chabert):
    • In the first game, Melissa wins the $1,000,000 prize. This results in the first instance in show history of the scoreboards displaying a seven-digit amount, which occurs at the start and end of the second game.
    • The $1,000,000 envelope from the syndicated show is used, with the two-row logo instead of the round one. Melissa states on Instagram that she got to keep the envelope (which she referred to as "the million dollar chip") signed by Pat and Vanna.
  • On October 24, a repeat of #201 airs. Fellow programs America's Funniest Home Videos and Supermarket Sweep are also repeats of their season premieres.
  • On October 31 (Episode #205: Anthony Michael Hall/Mario Cantone/Loni Love):

November 2021:

  • On November 7 (Episode #206: Joey Fatone/Wanya Morris/Shawn Stockman):
  • On November 14 (Episode #207: Vivica A. Fox/Michelle Trachtenberg/Jason Mraz):
  • On November 21, the show does not air due to the American Music Awards.
  • On November 28
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