Headline Chasers

Headline Chasers
Genre Game show
Created by Wink Martindale
Directed by Kevin McCarthy
Presented by Wink Martindale
Narrated by Johnny Gilbert
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 1
Executive producer(s) Wink Martindale
Producer(s) John Tobyansen
Location(s) Tav Celebrity Theater
Hollywood, California
Running time approx. 26 minutes
Production company(s) Merv Griffin Enterprises
Wink Martindale Enterprises
Distributor King World Productions
CBS Television Distribution
Sony Pictures Television
Original network Syndicated
Original release September 9, 1985 – September 5, 1986

Headline Chasers is a syndicated game show that ran daily from September 9, 1985 to September 5, 1986. The series was hosted by Wink Martindale, with Johnny Gilbert serving as announcer. Martindale, who left Tic-Tac-Dough and was replaced by Jim Caldwell to take the position on Headline Chasers, also created the series and was its executive producer. The show was a co-production of Wink Martindale Enterprises and Merv Griffin Enterprises with King World Productions, Griffin's partner for his other syndicated game show offerings, as distributor. Headline Chasers was recorded at TAV Celebrity Theater in Hollywood, the same studio which housed The Merv Griffin Show (which, at the time Headline Chasers premiered, was still in production).

This show pits two couples against each other solving Hangman-style word puzzles designed to look like newspaper headlines, as well as answering questions about the subjects of these puzzles, in an attempt to win money.


Wink Martindale came up with the idea for the show while reading the Los Angeles Times. He then created a pilot titled Front Page, which he submitted to Merv Griffin Enterprises. As Martindale was both host and producer of Headline Chasers, he stepped down from his role as host of Tic-Tac-Dough in 1985, where Jim Caldwell succeeded him.[1]

Game play

Main game

Headline Chasers was played in three rounds, referred to on air as "editions" by Wink Martindale in keeping with the newspaper theme of the program.

In the first edition, a newspaper headline with various letters missing (referred to as an "altered headline") was presented to both couples. The value of each headline began at $500 and decreased by $100 for each clue provided. As a clue was presented, additional letters were placed into the headline. The first couple to buzz-in and correctly solve the headline received the money, and Martindale then asked two toss-up questions based upon the headline for $100 each. Three newspaper headlines were played in the first round. After several weeks of shows, a voice (mostly Gilbert's) would tell the home viewers how many words were in each headline.

The second edition saw the couples attempt to identify the subjects of magazine covers and video clips, which were purposely distorted in some way. For the magazine covers, an actual magazine cover was used and the subject's face and anything referring to their identity was blacked out. The couples were given clues in the same manner as the altered headlines, with $500 as the starting value and $100 taken away for each clue. For the video questions, the clips would be scrambled to start and would slowly come into focus while the audio could be heard without distortion. There were no on-screen clues given, but Wink would give a one word clue before the clip would begin, and $100 would be taken away every few seconds the clip played without a correct response.

This time, if a couple buzzed-in and could not identify the subject, the value of the clue was frozen and the other couple was provided any remaining clues before making their guess. Two magazine covers/film clips were played in this round.

The final edition featured altered headlines similar to round one, but the value of each headline began at $1,000 and decreased by $200 for each clue. Four altered headlines were played during the round.

The first three altered headlines featured toss-up questions as the ones in the first round had, with correct answers now worth $200. After the fourth altered headline, one question was posed and the couples were required to wager a portion of their score on it. After both teams' wagers were revealed, the team that wagered more got to answer. Answering correctly won the amount of the wager, and a wrong answer deducted it. If a wrong answer was given by the first couple, the second was given a choice to either answer the question for the value of their own wager or pass on it.

The couple in the lead following the final question won the game and moved on to the bonus round, and both teams kept their winnings. In the event of a tie one last altered headline was played, with the first to correctly solve it winning the game.

Headline Extra

The winning couple played a bonus round called Headline Extra for up to $5,000. The couple chose from one of five subjects for the final altered headline. The headline was then revealed and the couple had five seconds to study it, and after that the couple was asked whether or not they wanted to answer. If they chose to do so and correctly solved the headline, $5,000 was awarded. Getting the answer wrong ended the round and the couple won nothing further.

If the couple chose not to answer, they were offered a second chance in the form of clues. Each clue the couple asked for took away $1,000 from the potential prize and, unlike in the main game, did not result in additional letters added to the headline. The couple was given additional seconds to study the altered headline as the clues were displayed on screen. If they solved the headline this time, they won whatever money was left over.


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