Friday, January 15, 2010

TV’s Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? Comes to Sanford

By Devin Beliveau
Staff Columnist
A handful of Maine 5th graders are getting their shot in the national television spotlight.
On Jan. 6 several 5th graders from around southern and central Maine made their way to the Bonanza Steakhouse in Sanford for a chance to be on the popular Fox TV show: Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?
The game show is a trivia contest that pits 5th graders against adults. The 5th graders who showed up in Sanford, however, were not auditioning to be contestants on the show. These students were being recorded asking and answering trivia questions for viewers at home watching the show.
“It’s not an audition to be on the show, but the question that’s asked (on the local broadcast) is what was taped using these kids,” explained Geoff Titherington, the owner of Bonanza.
“In this way the folks at home can play along and have some local community involvement,” said Jen Myles, an account executive with the CW. “(These taped questions) will actually be in the show. It’s the third break in the show. Then it goes to a commercial break, then the show comes back with these kids saying the correct answer.”
Kayla Bott, a 5th grader from Mt. Vernon who enjoys watching the show, came to Bonanza because “I want to be on TV.” Her favorite part of the show is “when people lose. It’s funny,” Bott said with a laugh.
Jaycee Roberts came to Sanford from Buxton because “I love the show. I like answering the questions.”
Titherington’s restaurant was selected to be the audition location because he advertises with WPXT, the Portland CW Network affiliate that airs Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? “One of the things that they do with the local sponsors of that show is have sessions where the kids can come in and they ask a question which is shown on TV,” explained Titherington.
Titherington has owned and operated the Sanford Bonanza for 25 years, a notable achievement given that only 35 of these restaurants remain from a franchise that once boasted 650 restaurants nationwide. “We have a very stable staff here. There are actually two employees who have been here longer than I have,” said Titherington, explaining his restaurant’s against-the-odds longevity. “We try to be consistent with our service.”
“We look for businesses that are really in the community, and Geoff’s been a really great community supporter so we thought it would be a good fit for him,” commented Myles. Myles also said she believes that these kids questions will be put on the air immediately.
Photo caption: Jaycee Roberts, a 5th grader from Buxton, answers a question at the Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader audition in Sanford. (Devin Beliveau photo)