Blackout (game show)

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Format Game show
Created by Jay Wolpert
Written by Joel Hecht
Jay Wolpert
Jon Field
Meredith Kornfeld
Directed by John Dorsey
Presented by Bob Goen
Narrated by Johnny Gilbert
Jay Stewart
Theme music composer Middle "C" Productions
Country of origin  United States
No. of episodes 65
Executive producer(s) Jay Wolpert
Producer(s) Joel Hecht
Randall Neece
Location(s) CBS Television City
Hollywood, California
Running time approx. 26 minutes
Production company(s) Jay Wolpert Productions
Taft Entertainment Television Inc.
Original channel CBS
Original run January 4, 1988 – April 1, 1988

Blackout is an American game show that aired on CBS from January 4 to April 1, 1988. The pilot was hosted by former Entertainment Tonight anchor Robb Weller, but he was replaced for the series by Bob Goen (himself a future anchor on Entertainment Tonight). Johnny Gilbert was announcer for most of the run, with Jay Stewart (in his final announcing job) taking over for the last two weeks. The show was a Jay Wolpert production.


Two teams, consisting of one celebrity and one contestant each, competed with one of the contestants usually being a returning champion. The champion's position was yellow while the challenger's was red.

The object of the game was to solve word puzzles that consisted of a sentence or short paragraph with four blank spaces. For the first round of play, the celebrities were shown a word and given twenty seconds to describe it for their teammates with the red team going first. The contestants wore headsets while their teammates gave their descriptions, which were recorded and played back. While the first celebrity's description was played, the other celebrity used a device called a "blackout button" to silence the playback and attempt to block key information that would help the contestant guess the word. The blackout button could be used for seven seconds total, and if the describing celebrity was found to have repeated a key word one additional second of blackout time was added.

After the playback was finished, the contestant tried to guess the word based on the information that he/she had heard. If unsuccessful, the other contestant got to guess having heard the entire description. Correctly guessing the word won $100 for the player that did so and a chance to guess the puzzle. Saying the word, a form of it or part of it was illegal, and if either team did so $100 and a free guess were awarded to the other team. If neither player guessed it, the word was displayed on the board and nobody guessed unless it was the fourth word in the puzzle. In that case Goen read a pre-written description of the word as a toss-up and the player to buzz in and guess it won the money. The first team to solve the puzzle won a point.

In the second round the roles were reversed, with the contestants now describing and blacking out and play starting with the yellow team. If the team that guessed the first puzzle correctly got the second as well, they earned a second point and won the game. If the other team did so, a one word tiebreaker was played.

In the tiebreaker, the contestant whose team guessed the most words correctly or won the coin-toss in case of a tie was shown the word and given the choice of whether to describe or blackout while both celebrities put their headsets on. Once the choice was made, whoever was the describer had ten seconds to do so. The other player was given three seconds of blackout time, and the one second penalty for each repeated word remained in effect. The tiebreaker was played as all-or-nothing; if the celebrity guessed correctly their team won, but guessing incorrectly or an illegal clue meant a win for the other team.

Clue Screen[edit]

In the Clue Screen round, the object was to guess the identity of five subjects. Before the round started, the contestant decided whether he/she would look at the screen or if the celebrity would. The other player would then stand with his/her back to the screen.

The round began when Goen gave the category for the first subject and the subject itself in order to aid the screen viewer in deciding how many clues would be needed to correctly guess the subject. Up to six clues would be displayed and once the screen viewer thought there was enough information, he/she would say "solve it". The other player then turned around and tried to guess the subject. The round continued for a total of seventy seconds and if the team managed to correctly identify the five subjects needed the contestant won $10,000. If not, $250 was given for each one guessed correctly.


Blackout was taped at in Studio 33 at CBS Television City in Hollywood, California.[1]

Broadcast history[edit]

Blackout debuted at 10:00 AM on January 4, 1988, replacing the long-running $25,000 Pyramid. Facing both the still-popular Sale of the Century on NBC (ABC had never programmed in the 10:00 AM slot) and the wrath of angry viewers who believed that CBS had been too hasty in canceling The $25,000 Pyramid, Blackout was unable to find an audience. After 13 weeks and 65 episodes, CBS canceled Blackout and returned The $25,000 Pyramid to its former timeslot. Pyramid aired for an additional 13 weeks, until July 1, 1988, and made way for a previously-planned revival of Family Feud that debuted on July 4, 1988.

A brief clip of the Robb Weller-hosted pilot episode was seen in the background during the opening sequence of the ABC miniseries The Stand in 1994.

International Version[edit]

A short-lived Dutch version of the show hosted by Bert van Leeuwen aired in the Netherlands on channel EO from 1991-1992.


  1. ^ "Shows–CBS Television City". Retrieved 25 July 2011. 

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