CHARLOTTE – A family from south Charlotte recently got their 15 minutes of fame when they competed on the game show “Family Feud.”
The episode, featuring Mike Harris, his current wife Cynthis Farban-Harris, his ex-wife Jo Ayers and their daughters Kate Harris and Connie Griffin, aired Nov. 1 and 2 on WSOC. It will air again on Nov. 12.
Although the episode is airing now, Kate Harris said the process of getting on the show actually started last year when she saw an ad that “Family Feud” auditions would be coming to Charlotte. The family got together and recorded a video of them singing a song they made for her brother’s wedding, albeit with the words changed to “Family Feud,” and submitted it for consideration.
In November 2017, they got a call for an audition at a hotel in uptown, where they competed against approximately 600 other families in mock games for a spot on the show.
“It’s not about how well you play the game, but how well you interact with each other and how well you get along,” Kate Harris said.
Jo Ayers thinks their English accents and interesting personal lives won over the casting staff. Kate does cosplay and works for The American Red Cross; Cynthia is an attorney, opera singer and actor; Connie is a stay-at-home mom; Mike is an executive director at The American Red Cross and an actor; and Jo is a children’s librarian.
Their unique family dynamic also makes for good TV, Jo Ayers added.
“The tagline was, ‘Michael brings all of his wives to Family Feud.’ It was funny,” she said.
Before filming their episode, the Harrises practiced by playing a “Family Feud” board game and watching the show. They also timed themselves to see who would be best at Fast Money, a segment of the show when two members of the winning family play for a chance to win a cash bonus.
One contestant is onstage with the host, while the other is backstage and can’t hear the answers given. The first contestant is asked five rapid-fire survey questions and has a set time limit in which to answer them. The second contestant is then brought out to answer the same five questions. If the two contestants reach a combined total of 200 points or more, the family wins the bonus.
By the time April came around, the Harrises were ready. They flew out to Los Angeles and were picked up from the airport by a chauffeur who took them to a hotel and then to Universal Studios Hollywood, the same studio where NBC’s “The Voice” is filmed.
There they met the other families competing on the show, participated in practice rounds, and were fed a free breakfast and lunch.
“They treated us like royalty the entire time we were there,” Jo Ayers said.
“Also it was funny, at one point, studio tours passed by and people were taking pictures. We were waving at them and they thought we were celebrities,” Mike Harris added.
The Harrises were there for two days and played against three families. They said each episode took roughly two hours to film. Contestants do their own makeup on “Family Feud,” but professional makeup artists touch it up during commercials. Connie Griffin said one of the makeup artists worked on “The Voice” and has done makeup for celebrities like singer Kelly Clarkson.
“It’s like, you know all these famous people and you’re doing my makeup,” she said. “You kind of feel like a celebrity.”
They didn’t get to meet host Steve Harvey prior to filming their episode – there are strict rules against hosts interacting with contestants before the show – but they described him as funny and genuine. He even performed stand-up comedy for the audience during commercial breaks.
Jo Ayers said one of the most memorable moments of filming was she introduced herself to Harvey as “Wife #1” and Cynthia introduced herself as “Wife #2.”
“Steve Harvey turned to Connie and said, ‘Please don’t tell me you’re Wife #3,’” Jo said. “It was really funny.”
The Harrises didn’t win the big prize, but took home some money, although they declined to say how much. The money never mattered, though, because just being on the show was enough.
“When the music comes on, the lights come on, the stage is lit from top to bottom and Steve Harvey comes out and looks your way, it was just the most exciting moment,” Cynthia Farban-Harris said.
“It’s a story you’ll tell your grandchildren’s grandchildren,” Mike Harris added.
The fact they got to do it as a family was the best part.
“We’re very close. We spend Christmases together, go on vacations together and we have dinner together every week,” Cynthia Farban-Harris said. “Anytime we can get together as a family, it’s a blast.”