By Jason DeRusha

By Jason DeRusha, WCCO-TV

LOS ANGELES, Calif. (WCCO) — Standing with the Hollywood Hills behind me, and spinning the Wheel of Fortune, my life does not get much better.

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We took good questions sent in my by Virginia, Daryl and Donna, and brought them to Pat Sajak on the set of Wheel of Fortune. He gave us answers, and he didn’t even make us buy a vowel.

  • How often do you shoot Wheel of Fortune?

“We shoot 35 times a year, 35 days a year, but it’s stretched out over nine months,” Sajak said. “It’s not exactly the most grueling schedule you’ve ever heard about.”

The set goes dark the rest of the year. That’s why, when we visited, the wheel and puzzleboard were covered up with a tarp.

  • How many shows do you shoot in a day?

“Usually six,” Sajak said. “We can crank them out pretty quickly. A typical day for us we’ll start at noon and by six o’clock we’ll have done six shows with two different audiences. We’re pretty efficient.”

  • How have you managed to keep your hands off Vanna for all these years? Stewart asked.

“Well, why does Stewart assume I have?” Sajak said.

  • Why don’t you spin ‘Bankrupt’ or ‘Lose a Turn’ when you do the final spin?
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“It’s interesting. I get that question a lot. I’m surprised people notice or care that much about it. But, in fact, I do hit it quite often.”

“It happens,” he said. “But, then again, it’s not exactly entertainment, so we edit it out.”

  • How does he know how many particular letters there are in a puzzle? Donna asked.

The answer is that Sajak has a little computer monitor hidden in front of him that shows him the number of letters that were guessed.

  • Who writes the puzzles? Kim from Eagan asked.

Sajak does. Vanna does. The executive producer does. Everyone makes suggestions. However, there is a tiny, two-person department that researches and writes the questions. They make sure that the phrases are presented properly and that things such as proper names are spelled correctly.

We also talked with Harry Friedman, long time executive producer of the show, at his office at Sony Pictures.

  • How do you guys get the money to give away the prizes?

“A lot of it comes from wonderful stations like yours, who pay a license fee to carry the show,” Friedman said.

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You might be asking where is Vanna? The answer: in Utah. She works on the show 35 days a year. The odds of  finding her on the set are pretty low.

Jason DeRusha