The Big Question by Chuck Barris

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From the revolutionary mind of television's legendary mad genius, a story of money, sex, greed, revenge, murder -- and reality TV

The year is 2012, and as the Most Famous Television Producer in the World is walking down a wintry New York City block, he's accosted by a homeless-looking cripple who, like everyone else, insists he has the formula for the greatest TV show of all time. As it turns out, he does: Contestants will compete for one hundred million dollars. If they win, they're rich. If they lose, they face immediate on-camera execution.

As the Producer begins scheming to steal the idea and revive his fading career, The Big Question introduces the extraordinary characters who will ultimately become the show's contestants -- a brilliantly rendered, Dickensian cast that includes the seventy-something Vera Bundle, with a taste for scotch and encyclopedias; Arthur Durch, a convicted sex offender-turned-relationship therapist; Retta Mae Wagons, a sixteen-year-old prostitute with an IQ of 170 and an ex-con-turned-Muslim fundamentalist boyfriend who doesn't appreciate her; Billy Constable, the Kentucky rube who gets off a bus in New York and promptly finds himself in trouble with the Mob; and Father Brady, the devout Catholic priest with a mortifying secret to hide at any cost. As the first episode is broadcast live in front of millions, the audience, the cast, and the crew behind the scenes do the unthinkable: they sit and watch, rapt and glassy-eyed, as the final contestant left on stage meets an unimaginable fate.

To say The Big Question is a novel of greed and immorality would be putting it lightly. But to read this book without laughing out loud at every page would be impossible. This is more than just a funny book, though. With uncanny precision and razor-sharp wit, the inimitable Chuck Barris reveals the inconceivable lengths to which people will go for those priceless fifteen minutes, the fascination we have with the little black box in our homes -- and the horrifying deeds done in the name of entertainment.

About Chuck Barris

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Chuck Barris is a former television show creator and producer, whose credits include The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game, The Gong Show, and Treasure Hunt. He is the author of several books, including Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (adapted into a major motion picture) and the New York Times bestselling novel You and Me, Babe. Chuck and his wife, Mary, live in Manhattan.
Published May 1, 2007 by Simon & Schuster. 288 pages
Genres: Humor & Entertainment, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Big Question

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Though the novel plainly isn’t this notorious television producer’s strong suit, there’s some guilty pleasure in reading about how the man responsible for The Gong Show and The Newlywed Game takes his revenge on reality TV.

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The New York Times

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First Chapter: ‘The Big Question’ (June 3, 2007) In case you’ve forgotten, Barris is the producer who created or helped create not only “The Newlywed Game” but also “The Gong Show,” “The Dating Game” and assorted others, after having had a bit of success as a songwriter.

Jun 03 2007 | Read Full Review of The Big Question


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Somewhere in the back of that line of writers, with his arms raised as if to clap, is Chuck Barris, the 1960s and '70s game show icon.

May 03 2007 | Read Full Review of The Big Question

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