|Host, Inventor, and Executive Producer|
|Charlie O'Donnell (Pilot)|
Johnny Gilbert (Series)
|Merv Griffin Enterprises|
Wink Martindale Enterprises
PILOT INTRO: "World Events. Business. Entertainment. Sports. If it was news and you know it, you'll win some heavy cash on Headline Chasers! Now, here's our headliner, Wink Martindale!"
SERIES INTRO: "If it was news and you know it, you'll win some heavy cash on Headline Chasers! And now, here's our headliner, Wink Martindale!"
Headline Chasers pitted two couples against each other in a game of solving newspaper-type word puzzles called "Altered Headlines" to win money. The headlines were make-believe, although based on real people and events. Its gameplay was similar to Wheel of Fortune, another creation by the late Merv Griffin.
The Main GameEdit
The game was played in three rounds (referred to on-air as "editions" in keeping with the newspaper theme of the show).
A newspaper page was revealed on a giant monitor. Its headline had several letters missing with a few left in there. This was classified as an Altered Headline. Then four clues were shown to the couples one by one, with more letters being revealed after each. The first couple to buzz-in earned the chance to solve the headline, and if they were correct, they won money; but if they were wrong the opposing couple had the right to decide to either see more clues and letters or solve the headline immediately. A correct answer was worth $500 (minus $100 for every clue revealed).
After the headline was solved, the couples were then asked two questions (which were connected to the headline) posed by host Martindale. Each correct answer to each question was worth $100.
Three Altered Headlines were played in this round.
After several weeks of shows, a voice (mostly Gilbert's) would tell the home viewers how many words were in each headline.
In this round instead of headlines, the couples were now shown real-life and well-known magazines. Each one had a blacked-out face as well as anything else that referred to the mystery person's identity that the contestants had to identify on the cover. The couples were given clues in the same manner as the Altered Headlines with $500 as the starting value and $100 taken away for each clue. Also, pixelated film clips of news makers which would slowly come to focus were played with Martindale giving a one-word clue to his/her identity, and the couples trying to identify them by voice only. Unlike the magazine covers, no clues were given, as $100 was taken away every few seconds over the course of the clip. For this round only, the jackpot was frozen for the other team when the first team missed.
Two of each were played in this round.
This round was played the same way as Edition 1 except that the altered headlines were now worth up to $1,000.
Only this time, the countdown went this way:
Bonus questions in this round were worth $200.
Four Altered Headlines were played in this round and after the fourth headline, one question was asked; then the couples would write down how much they wanted to wager of their current totals, with the higher wagering couple getting the question first. After the question was asked, if the couple with highest wager got it right, they won the money that they wagered, but a wrong answer deducted it; in this case, the question passed to the opposing team who would then decide to play or pass the question (same rules applied if they played).
The couple with the most money won the game. Both teams kept the cash. If the game ended in a tie, one final altered headline was played and whoever buzzed in with the right answer was the winner.
The winning couple played a bonus round called Headline Extra for up to $5,000. The couple chose from one of five subjects for the final altered headline. The headline was then revealed and the couple had five seconds to study it, and after that, the couple was asked whether or not they wanted to answer. If they chose to do so and correctly solved the headline, they win the $5,000. Getting the answer wrong ended the round and the couple won nothing further.
If the couple chose not to answer, they can ask for clues which took away $1,000 from the potential prize and unlike in the main game, no additional letters would be added to the headline. The couple was given seven additional seconds to study the altered headline as the clues were displayed on screen. If they solved the headline this time, they won whatever money was left over, up to $4,000.
The highest possible score was $23,600 and only possible if a couple answered every question correctly, doubled their score with the final question, then won the bonus.
As in the series, the game was divided into three editions.
Edition 1: Cover StoriesEdit
An actual magazine cover was displayed, with the face covered up. Up to five clues were read to determine the identity. Solving a cover on the first clue earned a specific amount, which decreased with each new clue. Five covers were played in this round: the first was worth $900, minus $200 for each additional clue; then $1,000 minus $200 for each additional clue; then $1,500 minus $300 for each additional clue; then two more each worth $500 minus $100 for each additional clue.
Edition 2: Voices and HeadlinersEdit
In this edition, an occupation was given, followed by the voice of someone well known in that occupation. While the voice was playing, the person with that voice was revealed square by square. Only the audience could see the subject, with the couples' backs to the screen. The first couple to buzz-in and guess the voice correctly won $300. Five voices were heard in this round.
Edition 3: Front Page HeadlinesEdit
This was similar to the "Altered Headlines" from the aired show, but using real headlines from real newspapers, only with certain answers being revealed. Also, there were five clues instead of four, with no additional letters revealed after each one. Each headline was worth $500 with no reduction for clues given. After each headline Wink asked both couples two $100 follow-up questions. Three headlines were played in this round.
As in the aired show, a final headline was played that required a wager; only here, there were no questions. In this case, eight sections from newspapers were shown, and each couple would select one to play with. A correct guess without any clues given won 10x their bet, reduced to 5x/4x/3x/2x/1x with each clue given. Unlike the aired show, there was no bonus round; however, the winning couple would return on the next show to face new challengers.
The theoretical maximum possible winnings for a single game in this pilot was $88,000.
This was Wink Martindale's first-ever game show he created and/or produced. He created the show by reading newspapers in his Malibu home. That's when he thought, "What a great idea for a game show." In order to host this show, however, he sadly had to leave Tic Tac Dough, his then-current and best-known hosting gig in favor of new host Jim Caldwell.
The original name for Headline Chasers was The Front Page.
Stations that aired this included:
- New York - WABC
- Los Angeles - KHJ
- Chicago - WLS
- Philadelphia - WCAU (which dropped it after five weeks on the air in favor of The $100,000 Pyramid on 10/14/1985)
- Dallas - KXAS
- San Francisco - KRON
- Boston - WNEV
- Atlanta - WXIA
- Seattle - KOMO
- Miami - WPLG
- Sacramento - KXTV
- Baltimore - WMAR
- San Diego - KCST
- Raleigh - WTVD
- Hartford - WTNH
- Kansas City - KCTV
- Buffalo - WKBW
- Jacksonville - WJXT
- Providence - WPRI
- Wichita - KWCH
- Des Moines - KCCI
- Portland, ME - WGME
- Toledo - WTOL
- Baton Rouge - WAFB
Fictional Newspaper NamesEdit
"Newspapers" featured included:
- U.S. Report (a takeoff of USA Today)
- The Guardian (not to be confused with Manchester, England's leading paper)
- The Sporting Times (a takeoff of Sporting Green sections in newspapers)
- The New York Globe (a takeoff of The New York Times)
- The Los Angeles News (a takeoff of Los Angeles Times)
- The Chicago Herald (a takeoff of Chicago Tribune)
- The Philadelphia Dispatch (a takeoff of The Philadelphia Inquirer)
- The Washington News (a takeoff of The Washington Post)
- The Boston Tribune (a takeoff of The Boston Globe)
- The Phoenix Star (a takeoff of The Arizona Republic)
- The Miami Globe (a takeoff of Miami Herald)
- The Denver Globe (a takeoff of Rocky Mountain News)
- The New Orleans Herald (a takeoff of The Times-Picayune)
- The Omaha News (a takeoff of Omaha World-Herald)
- The Charleston News (a takeoff of Charleston Gazette-Mail)
- The Cheyenne Times (a takeoff of Wyoming Tribune-Eagle)
Trade Ads from Broadcasting MagazineEdit
"Samba de la Noche" by Merv Griffin
TAV Celebrity Theater, Hollywood California
"Join us again next time for our next edition of Headline Chasers, where we'll meet two new couples and find out who knows more about the events, the places and the faces that made front page headlines. I'm Wink Martindale. Goodbye, everybody." - Wink Martindale (1985-1986)