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Friendly Samsels fight on 'Family Feud'
The Samsel family of Warwick with 'Family Feud' host Steve Harvey.

The Samsel Family of Warwick face off against the Browns from Chicago on “Family Feud” for the chance to win up to $100,000 and a brand new car, along with some serious bragging rights. The show airs Friday, Oct. 19 at noon on MyRI TV.

The Samsel Family features Cristina, a corporate banker; cousin Kirk, a sales operations manager; sister Lauren, a second grade teacher; brother-in-law Eddy, a corrections officer; and husband Jeff, an emergency room physician.

“We decided to audition for ‘Family Feud’ because we thought it would be a great bonding experience,” said Cristina Feden in a press release from the show.

“If we win, we want to throw a big celebratory party for all of our friends and family.”

That’s a pretty big group that includes all of the participants who, coincidentally, are all related around the core clan of Samsel. That’s why we were thrown off when we got a picture and caption of the participants posing with host Steve Harvey. None of the surnames were Samsel and we shot back an email to the publicist of the show, Courtney Smith, and asked her if she sent us the right picture.

“Who are these people?” we asked, and snarkishly added, “And what have you done to the Samsels?”

Courtney fired right back with the explanation.

“This is the Samsel Family,” she insisted. “Are you referring to how they don’t all have the same last name? Per the press release, these are all cousins and sisters and in-laws, and therefore no expectation that they will all have the same last name. Very often, especially in the case when a family of cousins appear on the show together, none of the team members will have the legal last name that the team uses to use as their family last name on the show. Hope that helps.”

It helped a lot, and showed us how the extended family is alive and well in America, and willing to participate in “Family Feud,” which, at 36 years old, is one of the most persistently popular shows.

“Family Feud” went on the air in July of 1976. It was the offshoot of another game show by the prolific Goodson-Todman production company who had success with a similar show called the “Match Game,” except that celebrities (or some variation of that species) did the guessing.

“Family Feud” pits real families of five against each other to see who can correctly guess the most popular answers to survey questions. While the game sounds simple, there are multiple rules players need to follow to win and play properly.

“We practiced a lot and we watched the show a lot, but we didn’t really have a strategy,” said Cristina. “The show is really about the luck of the questions. Aside from some ideas for the Fast Money round, we really didn’t have any plan.”

The Face-Off is when one member from each family meets to start the game.

After the host reads the question on which people were surveyed, a player must buzz in and try to guess the most-popular answer. If the first player does not pick the most popular answer, the second player follows, and whoever guesses the most-popular answer gets to choose to play or pass the round.

Each round features a question on which 100 people were surveyed. The team that wins the Face-Off must provide the three to six most-popular answers given by survey respondents. If a player gives an answer that is not one of the top responses, the team receives a strike. Revealing the answers to the survey presents an example of how a catch phrase from any television show indicates how popular it has become. The original host, Richard Dawson, would record the guesses of the team and then turn to the big board to see if their guesses were right. Within a year, people all over the country were shouting, “Survey says!” as a prelude to any number of answers or factoids that arose in conversation.

The game gets competitive in the stealing points segment. If a family picks all the most-popular answers before receiving three strikes, that family receives the accumulated points and the game moves on to a new Face-Off. But if the family receives three strikes for wrong answers, the other team gets a chance to steal the points for the round by guessing one of the remaining correct answers. If they do not, the other family keeps the points.

The game goes on until one family reaches 300 points. This usually includes three rounds and sometimes a fourth round. The first round is worth face value points, the second is double and the third and fourth are triple-point rounds.

The winning family that passes 300 points gets to play the Fast Money round. In this timed round, two family members must quickly answer five questions separately. The second person cannot repeat any of the answers given by the first person. If the points of the combined answers add up to 200 or more, the family wins the grand prize.

There have been a number of hosts since the late Richard Dawson tearfully left the show in 1985; including Ray Combs, Louie Anderson, Richard Karn and John O’Hurley. The latest is Steve Harvey, one of the original Kings of Comedy tourers and the star of a couple of sit-coms on network and cable television. For people familiar with Steve Harvey’s stand-up routines, the show may be a disappointment in that much of the raw language has been put aside, but he still manages to get some street-wise zingers into the mix. It is, after all, the “Family Feud,” which is one of the rare shows that appeal to every member of a family.

So, will the Samsel Family be throwing that big celebration?

We can’t tell you and neither can the Samsels.

“We had to swear not to tell people how it turns out,” said Cristina. “You’ll have to wait until it’s broadcast.”

You can find out on Friday, Oct. 19.

To get on the show, the Samsel Family called the Family Feud hotline to begin the audition process. You can apply by calling the show’s hotline at 323-762-8467 for an interview.


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