Quiz Show

September 17, 2005 - Ralph Fiennes and Rob Morrow star in this 1994 drama based on the TV quiz show scandal of the 1950s. John Turturro, David Paymer and Mira Sorvino also star. Martin Scorsese has a small role. And, look for a brief appearance by Calista Flockhart before Ally McBeal made her a star. Robert Redford directs.

The movie tells the true story of the scandal surrounding the TV quiz show Twenty-One. Turturro plays Herb Stempel, a guy from Queens who's on a winning streak. But the ratings aren't doing so well. When handsome and sophisticated Charles Van Doren (Fiennes) comes along, the producers have Stempel take a dive and give Van Doren a question they know he can answer. Van Doren knows the fix is in, but he sees his chance to come out of his father's shadow and he grabs it.

Things start unraveling when Stempel asks producer Dan Enright (Paymer) to put him on another show. Enright refuses, so Stempel goes to the DA, who convenes a grand jury. All this catches the attention of Congressional lawyer Dick Goodwin (Morrow), who comes to New York and starts asking questions.

Eventually, there are Congressional hearings. Van Doren and Enright are disgraced, but the network execs - and TV - survive.

Overall review: ** As a former game show junkie, you'd think I would have seen this film before now. But, I didn't, and honestly, I don't know that I missed anything. It's interesting as a history lesson, but I didn't particularly care about any of the characters. Morrow tried, and failed, I think, to pull off his character's New England accent. And, Jack Barry, the host of the game show, was pretty much left out of the mix. In real life, I'm sure he must have been more involved.