The Hollywood Squares is an American panel game show in which two contestants play tic-tac-toe to win cash and prizes. The "board" for the game is a 3 × 3 vertical stack of open-faced cubes, each occupied by a celebrity (or "star") seated at a desk and facing the contestants. The stars are asked questions by the host, and the contestants judge the veracity of their answers in order to win the game.
Although The Hollywood Squares was a legitimate game show, the game largely acted as the background for the show's comedy in the form of joke answers, often given by the stars prior to their "real" answer. The show's writers usually supplied the jokes. In addition, the stars were given question subjects and plausible incorrect ("bluff") answers prior to the show. The show was scripted in this sense, but the gameplay was not. In any case, as original host Peter Marshall would explain at the beginning of the Secret Square game, the celebrities were briefed prior to the show to help them with bluff answers, but they otherwise heard the actual questions for the first time as they were asked on air.
In 2013, TV Guide ranked it at No. 7 in its list of the 60 greatest game shows ever.
1998 to 2004 edition
- In 1991, King World Productions acquired the rights to the entire worldwide Hollywood Squares format. Six years later, King World decided to bring the series back to television and a revival was put in the works. Whoopi Goldberg was brought in to be the executive producer, and John Moffitt and Pat Tourk Lee were hired as producers. Goldberg's One Ho Productions and Moffitt-Lee Productions joined Columbia Tristar Domestic Television as co-production companies with King World, who handled distribution by themselves.
- On September 14, 1998, the revival debuted with Tom Bergeron as its host. In addition to her production duties, Whoopi Goldberg served as the permanent center square, with series co-writer Bruce Vilanch, Gilbert Gottfried, Martin Mull, and Caroline Rhea as regular panelists and Brad Garrett, Bobcat Goldthwait, Jeffrey Tambor, George Wallace, Kathy Griffin and various others as semi-regular panelists. Shadoe Stevens returned to announce, although he was not given a square on the panel as he had been when John Davidson was host.
- Following the 2001–02 season, Goldberg left the series and Moffitt and Lee were fired. In addition to these departures, Bruce Vilanch left his writing position and Caroline Rhea moved to New York to host The Caroline Rhea Show, a daytime variety series launched to replace The Rosie O'Donnell Show; O'Donnell had decided to leave her namesake show before the end of the 2001–02 season and Rhea, who was chosen by O'Donnell to be her replacement, served as guest host for most of the lawt season. The series also lost its announcer when Shadoe Stevens left as well.
- The 2002–03 season launched with Henry Winkler and his production partner Michael Levitt as the new executive producers and Jeffrey Tambor as the announcer. Some changes were made to the overall production with the show adopting a new logo that referred to the show as "H2". The set was given a makeover where the contestant desks were replaced with podiums with LED screens inside and a rewritten version of the Teena Marie song "Square Biz" became the theme song.
- After Goldberg's departure, the show decided not to employ a traditional permanent center square. Instead, a new celebrity would be in the square each week. Ellen DeGeneres, Alec Baldwin, Simon Cowell were among those who played center square as was Peter Marshall, who appeared during a special theme week in 2002.
- For most of the first five seasons of this Hollywood Squares series, the first and second games were worth $1,000 to the winner. The third game was worth $2,000, and every subsequent game until time ran out was worth $4,000. If a contestant did not win anything in the main game, $500 was given to them as a consolation prize. In the early episodes of the first season, if a contestant could not win with five squares on the board, their opponent automatically got the remaining square and the five-square win. In addition, contestants only played for half the money; $500 was won for each of the first two games, with $1,000 for the third and $2,000 for all subsequent games and $250 was given as a consolation prize for failing to win a game. In addition, the consolation prize amount also was used for each contestant's square in the event that time ran out during a game, and was counted towards their cash total to determine the day's champion.
- The tiebreaker was the same as the previous versions except that the contestant who has won the most games, most squares overall or won the last game played (whichever came first) had the option to play the question or pass it to his/her opponent, with a miss by either contestant giving their opponent the win by default.
- For the first season of this Hollywood Squares series, two new contestants competed on each episode. Beginning in the second season, the returning champion rule was reinstated; a contestant could stay on for a maximum of five days.