Hilliard Northwest News

Local studio is host for 'Cash Explosion'

By  and  Wednesday May 26, 2010 9:00 PM

Bet you didn't know this: the Ohio Lottery's popular "Cash Explosion Double Play" game show is taped locally at Mills James Productions on Fishinger Boulevard.

"Even though the (Ohio) Lottery Commission's offices are in Cleveland, Mills James demonstrated we could produce a great product and work seamlessly from Hilliard with their game show team," said producer Holly Berger.

Since 1987, "Cash Explosion Double Play" has given away more than $150-million, and made TV stars of more than 8,500 Ohio Lottery players. And for the last seven years, the shows have been taped at Mills James.

Berger said Mills James' central location makes it easier for contestants from around the state to attend a taping.

"Without the incentive of the show, some of these folks probably wouldn't visit this area. The tapings give them an opportunity to get to know central Ohio a little better," Berger said.

Each month's shows are taped over a two-day period. The morning and afternoon tapings that feature hosts Sharon Bicknell, Cherie McClain and David McCreary.

"We try to maximize the dollars while we have the people here," said vice president of telecommunications Scott Lanum. "We try to get as many done as we can, then we're off and people do what they need to do. We focus all the efforts on that short period."

"Cash Explosion" has eight contestants who get to keep their winnings, ranging from $3,200 to $200,000. The contestants bought an instant ticket at a retailer and scratched off to reveal the word "Entry" three times. They send that ticket in for another drawing, and if selected, they qualify to appear on the show. Some camera-shy folks have had a family member stand in for them, Lanum said.

The contestants are allowed to bring a couple guests to visit the studio, which can fit 140 people.

"Typically, the audience is made up of friends and family," said Mills James co-founder Ken Mills. "I think there are usually some seats available."

Lanum said there are usually 30-40 spots available per taping.

"They are invited to call the game show bureau in Cleveland and make a reservation. We just want to know how many folks are coming. We have limited space, but we very seldom sell out."

Lanum said the audience is warmed up by a comedian before the game is played. They also do prize giveaways during breaks.

"One of the most important things is we want to make sure the audience is entertained and the contestants have the time of their life, so we do make it an event outside of the television show. We show the audience how fun the game is, what they might be able to do if they got on. It's a marketing opportunity.

"We have a lot of folks comment that they had no idea that it was this much fun. We treat them like stars. They're our clients, the reason why we're here."

After the tapings, the set will be changed, because Mills James produces other television shows, commercials and videos. "Cash Explosion" is its only game show.

"I've been producing this for seven years, and it's a blast. I think I have the best job in the state," Berger said.

"Cash Explosion Double Play" airs at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in nine cities statewide (including WTTE in Columbus) and in Huntington. The next studio tapings are 9:45 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday (June 2-3), which will air June 12-July 3. To attend a taping, call the Ohio Lottery Commission at 216-774-5687 or 1-800-686-4208.

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