Wall Street turmoil spreads
to TVs Deal or No Deal
Downfall of game show's shadowy banker rattles stock market. Bernanke urges bailout, saying failure to act could cause dangerous rise in suitcase-model unemployment rate.
By Adam Smith, Staff Writer
First, Lehman Brothers and AIG went bust. Now the silhouetted banker from NBC's "Deal or No Deal" has gone belly-up, prompting stock market jitters and fears that other game shows could be next.
Signs of trouble at NBC's highly rated program surfaced two days ago, during a routine taping of the show.
After contestant Marie Nash of Fresno picked her first suitcase, host Howie Mandel tried to telephone the show's mysterious banker to see what deal would be offered. But all Mandel got was a recording saying the banker's phone number had been disconnected or was no longer in service.
Then, during a commercial break, half the show's suitcase models received layoff notices. An NBC spokesman later confirmed that the banker's assets had been decimated by the nation's mortgage crisis.
On the campaign trail, Barack Obama blamed the show's troubles on "dangerous deregulation of the gameshow industry by the Bush administration."
Government officials urged Congress to bail out the program. "We must act now," Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said. "Failure to save 'Deal or No Deal' will cause a catastrophic rise in unemployment among attractive suitcase models, and that could set off a chain reaction that brings down 'Wheel of Fortune,' 'Jeopardy' and other game shows that form the bedrock of civilization as we know it."