Live From Celebrity Famliy Feud: Joan Rivers’ Niece Reports

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ICE T AND JOAN2.jpgMeet Caroline Waxler: Managing Editor of Mainstreet.com and the niece of legendary comedian and great lady, Joan Rivers. Caroline was lucky enough to be flown to L.A. to play Celebrity Family Feud, premiering tomorrow night, alongside Aunt Joan, first-cousin Melissa Rivers, and a slew of other famous folks and their relatives. What follows is a first-person account of Caroline’s day at the Family Feud set, replete with appearances by Ice-T, Coco, Raven Simon, Larry the Cable Guy, Mo’Nique and Wayne Newton, among others. And before you ask: Yes, there are pictures. And they are incredible. Here is her story.

I knew everything would be alright as soon as I saw Raven-Symoné, walking toward me in white thigh high boots.

I had thought that we were playing The Judds and then leaving. I had no clue of the celebrity smorgasbord that lay before me. (The Judds were oddly not there—I guess they knew of the terror that was Team Rivers and thought the better of going up against us.) We, the Rivers family, consisted of me, my aunt Joan, cousin Melissa, brother Andy, and my “cousin” Sabrina (aka Melissa and Joan’s black assistant; it was on this historic episode of F. Feud that Joan will reveal to the world that she cheated and has an a black daughter.)

CAR MONIQUE.jpgFamily Feud does not play around. They put me deluxe style and flew me out first class. (They need their contestants to be fresh to match wits with Al Roker, the host of PRIMETIME Family Feud. Since we were “celebs” there would be no daytime for us. So my John O’Hurley fantasy meeting went right out the window.) It’s a whole other world out of coach, by the way. I had images of the Wedding Singer with Billy Idol. You can put all your bags on the floor—apparently turbulence doesn’t happen in the first class—and talk on the phone until pretty much the plane is up in the air. They also give you “Mission Impossible” style DVD players loaded with decent movies—no Kindergarten Cop or Baby Boom in there—and episodes of 30 Rock to watch while eating filet mignon and sundaes. Ridic. On the way back they gave me a free Sony eReader to take home.

So the next day we got all hair and makeuped ready at Melissa’s house and practiced on some AOL version of Family Feud. Things were not looking good. Melissa’s seven year old son was getting more right than we were. Apparently Joan didn’t realize that things you were supposed to bring to the beach did not include “butler.”

To go on The Feud (as I’m calling it) I got all decked in my Ann Taylor Loft finest—what I figured was appropriate game show wear. I didn’t realize until I saw Coco (Mrs. Ice-T) that this was not the case. But more on that in a second.

AFTER THE JUMP: Caroline’s tale continues… more with Raven, Mo’Nique, Wayne Newton, Ice-T & COCO! With amazing pics…

We walked in to the studio, got all settled in our dressing rooms where we had gift baskets bigger than we were—all class—and then got even more hair and makeup from the same group that brought you American Idol. (Both shows were produced by Freemantle.) They refused to give any gossip at all about any Davids.

Up in the green room was where the real action was, if you count Larry the Cable Guy, Bill Engvall, Raven-Symoné, and their families, with Mo’nique playing Vivica A. Fox (and their families) on the closed circuit TV as action, as I do. Larry was in his typical Cable Guy ensemble and gamely posed for random pictures. My favorite was the gem of a shot I got with him, Raves (as I call her), with me in the middle. Raves didn’t seem to be interested when I offered to send her a copy, however.

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I also pitched Mo’nique my screenplay idea, in which she beats up Osama — Osama Yo Mama — and she was like “I heard that!” Which I think is good.

The green room got even more surreal later when the Wayne Newtons and then Ice-T, Coco, his son Ice Marrow, Coco’s mom who looks like her sister, and Ice’s pal (he was an orphan so his friend played on his team) walked in. Coco and I had a lovely discussion about real estate in New York and North Jersey and the office she works out of on the Law & Order set, helping manage Ice-T’s career. Coco was wearing a demure—for Coco!—yellow sun dress, but still showed off all that is Coco. As Ice-T told us, “If you buy a Ferrari, you don’t drive it around all covered up.” Indeed!

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We played two games. One against the Ice-T family and the other against the Raven-Symonés (a blended family of her real brother and her real mom as well as her tv show mom and dad from “That’s So Raven”). Her TV dad, Rondell, is quite the ham. I will say this, before you go on you have to pose in a “fierce” pose—which I was pretty much terrible at. The rest of the Rivers clan wasn’t much better. Apparently, we’re not threatening, especially opposite the Ice-Ts. Ice-T employed some impressive gang (or what I thought was gang/ster) poses/stances that I can definitely use around the office. I now know how to “brush off haters” and “pop my collar” and something else implying that the “poser” has facial hair. That one was very unclear, despite his multiple attempts to explain it to me further back in the green room.

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I had some friends visit me on the set. My favorite part was when one walked in whilst I was talking to my new best pal and I was able to say, “Have you met Coco, Mrs. Ice-T.” Awesome?

Before we went down to our places we all had to freeze frame in our family area. It was all dark and I think we were kind of silhouetted. We were again told to pose “fierce.” I’m sure the jazz hands that Joan and I did on either end of the couch were terrifying.

WAXLER & WAYNE.jpgAl! Al Roker was our host. And, it should be pointed out that he looks quite slim. He didn’t make out with people a la Dawson but was quite the banterer nonetheless. He and Joan had a rapport that dare I say was electric.

The set was very futuristic. There was a runway which Al saucily walked down. Al’s questions were all very Family Feud-esque, general questions that you pretty much already know the answers to—or think you do. Let’s just say that the way “America” answers questions is not what you’d think.

The exec producer told us that we had to up the energy, especially when we were against the Raven-Symonés. They are a lot to keep up with! She is quite energetic, as you can imagine, in a way that we Rivers’ were not. We were told to throw out a lot of “good answers!” and clap. No problem. I also threw in a lot of high fives, many of which I unfortunately missed. I think I may have gone a little overboard and embarrassed the family, but it’s the Feud so who wouldn’t get a little carried away? Also, Melissa was the brightest one on our team. If ever you go on the Feud, she’s the one you want in your family.

WAXLER ROKER.jpgAgain I can’t say how we did, but I’ll let you in on this–The day was filled with a rollercoaster of F. Feud drama!

In true Jewish form, we finished our dramatic day with a dinner at a deli, Nate ‘n Als. (There’s nothing that a knish won’t solve when that makeout from Roker is not forthcoming.)

“Celebrity Family Feud” premieres in July and airs weekly, starting July 1, Primetime on NBC. (8-9 p.m. ET) There apparently were a lot more families that taped besides the ones on Sunday. I heard something about the Kardashians and Kathie Lee Gifford… stay tuned.

You can read more of Caroline Waxler‘s writing over at Mainstreet.com, or check out her other game show rendesvous, on the endlessly entertaining Cash Cab.

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