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Entertainment News

CMA Relationship with "Wheel of Fortune" Spells S-U-C-C-E-S-S for Country Music

PHOTO BY CAROL KAELSON / SONY PICTURES STUDIOS

Vanna White, Josh Gracin, Wynonna, Richie McDonald of Lonestar and Pat Sajak on the set during "Country Music Stars Week" on "Wheel of Fortune."

By Wendy Pearl
© 2007 CMA Close Up News Service

The ongoing relationship between CMA and television's most popular game show, "Wheel of Fortune," spelled S-U-C-C-E-S-S for the music industry with a second Country Music-themed week of programs taped Jan. 13 in Charleston, S.C. Fifteen Country Music artists came together to take a spin for charity.

A proven winner with viewers, "Country Music Stars Week" pairs Country Music enthusiasts with Country artists with the stars' winnings going to their favorite charities. This year's charitable contributions came to a whopping $402,000. The week of shows, hosted by Pat Sajak and Vanna White, was taped at the Charleston Area Convention Center and will air during television sweeps Feb. 12-16.

"CMA is very excited to partner with 'Wheel of Fortune' once again for a 'Country Music Stars Week,' and ecstatic that the week of shows aired during February sweeps," said Rick Murray, CMA VP of Strategic Marketing. "The production and marketing teams - from executive producer Harry Friedman, to producer Karen Griffith, and of course Pat and Vanna - have truly become a part of the CMA and Country Music family. We love working with them and hope to continue helping to secure Country artists for many more 'Wheel' episodes in the future!"

Artists appearing included Steve Azar; Terri Clark; Josh Gracin; Michael Britt, Richie McDonald, Keech Rainwater and Dean Sams of Lonestar; Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry of Montgomery Gentry; Lorrie Morgan; Julie Roberts; Trent Tomlinson; Mark Wills; Wynonna and Trisha Yearwood.

CMA's relationship with "Wheel of Fortune" dates back to 2000, when the Association started speaking with the show's marketing executives about a possible Country-themed program. The discussions resulted in the "Wheel of Fortune" Wheelmobile making a stop at CMA Music Festival in 2002 to audition Country fans for a week of programs that taped Jan. 9, 2003, at the Grand Ole Opry House.

The first "Country Stars Week," aired the week of Feb. 17, 2003, and ranked No. 1 for all syndicated shows with an average of 16 million viewers - 2.5 million viewers more than its closest competitor ("Friends"). The programs even outperformed many primetime shows including "American Idol" (15.6 million); "West Wing" (12.3 million); "24" (13.2 million); and "Law & Order: SVU" (15 million). Source: NSS/NTI, P2+AA (000); 2/17/03-2/21/03.

"Wheel of Fortune" is America's No. 1 syndicated series and an ideal partner for Country Music artists, according to Murray. With an audience of more than 12 million loyal fans, "Wheel of Fortune" delivers more viewers than any other program in syndication including "Oprah" (8,377,000); "Entertainment Tonight" (6,753,000); and "Live with Regis and Kelly" (4,227,000). "Wheel" delivers more viewers than any of the late night talk shows or network morning shows. Source: NSS/NTI, P2+AA%; 2005-2006 season.

"The viewing numbers for 'Wheel' make participation on these shows a sleeping giant for the artists looking to reach and impact their current and potential fan base," Murray added. "During the artist introductions Pat typically will mention their current CD, run performance footage of the artist and sometimes even a piece of music from the album - all adding up to extensive promotion, brand awareness and advertising for the artists. Country stars are among 'Wheel' viewers' favorite celebrities, and we have plenty of artists lining up to participate in these themed shows."

Since the first "Country Music Stars Week," CMA has provided incredible prize packages and this year was no exception with trips to CMA Music Festival and the CMA Awards that included airfare, hotel accommodations, CD packages, Awards merchandise and more valued at $4,000 each.

The players got to take home terrific prizes and cash, but the artists who played left feeling good, too. They donated all their winnings to their favorite charities. Troy Gentry is donating his proceeds to "Keep the Music Playing," CMA's charity program from CMA Music Festival that benefits music education in Nashville's public schools through the Nashville Alliance for Public Education.

"Eddie and I are both excited about spinning the wheel for our charities," Gentry said. "I will be playing for 'Keep the Music Playing,' and I can't think of a more deserving charity. I hope I can make the kids proud!"

On the Web: www.WheelOfFortune.com

 

PHOTO BY CAROL KAELSON / SONY PICTURES STUDIOS

Whitney Holcomb, Host Pat Sajak, Mark Wills, William Houpt, Lorrie Morgan, Danielle Robinson and Michael Britt of Lonestar participate in "Country Music Stars Week" on "Wheel of Fortune."

 

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