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TV Jitters

Frankly Speaking by Frank Legato

TV Jitters

I just got off the phone with someone from ABC, who wanted to know about slots.

     Yes, that’s right. When Diane Sawyer or Katie Couric want to know about slots, who do you think they call?

     Okay, it wasn’t Diane Sawyer who called me, but it was ABC-Al Bernstein’s Cable-wanting to know about a good time slot to come to my house and hook up HBO.

     No, seriously, it was the ABC you know, although I’m not familiar with the reporter. They were asking me about the story from last year where some woman in New Mexico sued a casino because she claimed she had won $1.6 million on a nickel slot, but was told that it was a machine malfunction. It turns out some kind of ticket with a test number on it apparently came out of the printer, but the top jackpot on the machine itself was $1,500.

     But that’s not what my column’s about-I already busted on that lady. (“New guaranteed slot strategy: Just say you won!”)

     No, apparently, they may want me “on-camera” for this story they’re doing about slot machines. I’ve done a lot of local TV spots, and a little Travel Channel and other cable stuff, but this is national.

     The thought of my cartoon-like face beamed into the homes of millions makes me just a little frightened. Of course, others like me. For instance, Players Network asked me to be their resident “Slot Guru.” I love that-it conjures images of people climbing up a Himalayan mountain, and inserting their player’s club card into a slot for a chance to ask a slot-machine question of the “Guru.”

     Player: “O great Slot Guru! What hath the mysterious god of the Random Number Generator wrought when it comes to gaming that is controlled by a Holy Central Server?”

     (Don’t you talk in Old English when you’re with a guru? I could be wrong.)

     Guru: “Noble Player, the Holy Central Server is… Hey, bread pudding!”

     OK, the Slot Guru was apparently at a buffet in my little fantasy. But anyway, I digress…

     I’m fine going on Players Network, because only people who play in casinos will be watching. (And, of course, players who have blown all their money in the casino and are sitting in their hotel rooms like losers. Not that I’ve ever done that.) It was the same with the Travel Channel things I did. Casino fans were the ones watching. And, local Atlantic City news and talk shows are, well, local. In those instances, I only have to worry about coming off like an idiot in one metropolitan region.

     But ABC? National, coast-to-coast TV? Geez, every boss I’ve ever had could be watching. Relatives I like and don’t like. People I pissed off 20 years ago. Bullies who tortured me as a kid. (Although I like to think they’re all dead or in prison by now.)

     What if I draw a blank? What if I sit there with beads of sweat on my forehead, in a catatonic, drooling state after every question? What if I have spinach on my teeth? What if I forget to wear pants?

     And what about my appearance? The first time I saw myself on TV, I said, “Hey, look! There’s my dad!” (In the mirror, I still look 25.)

     And what about my voice? I always thought I sounded like a manly, he-man baritone until the first time I did a radio interview, and heard my voice coming across the airwaves. It sounded like Bugs Bunny on helium.

      Of course, the segment is about slot machines, which I can talk about in my sleep (and often do, according to my wife). I just have to focus on the questions and draw on my 23 years of experience writing about the things, and not think about Ralph Kramden.

     Why not think about Ralph? Because I’m always afraid when I go on TV that I’m going to stammer like he used to on the old Honeymooners show when he was nervous:

     Comely ABC News Anchor: “Frank, is it possible for this slot machine to pay out $1.6 million?”

     Frank:  “Humm-a-na-humm-a-na-humm-a-na.”

     News Anchor: “I don’t think our microphones picked that up. Can you repeat it?’

     Frank:   “HUMMa-na. Aaah… Ummm… Hey, bread pudding!”

Frank Legato is editor of Global Gaming Business magazine. He has been writing on gaming topics since 1984, when he launched and served as editor of Casino Gaming magazine. Legato, a nationally recognized expert on slot machines, has served as editor and reporter for a variety of gaming publications, including Public Gaming, IGWB, Casino Journal, Casino Player, Strictly Slots and Atlantic City Insider. He has an B.A. in journalism and an M.A. in communications from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. He is the author of the books, How To Win Millions Playing Slot Machines... Or Lose Trying, and Atlantic City: In Living Color.  

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