Merv Griffin Enterprises
The company known as Merv Griffin Enterprises was first known as "Merv Griffin Productions" and was formed in 1964 by television personality Merv Griffin (formerly "Milbarn Productions" in 1963) with his first production game show Jeopardy! and following his revived talk show The Merv Griffin Show a year later. Before J!, Griffin created and produced a short-lived game show called Word for Word, that debuted in 1963. It formed a partnership with King World (now "CBS Television Distribution") in 1982 after ending his partnership with Metromedia Producers Corporation. In 1984, Griffin expanded his company as "Merv Griffin Enterprises". It was sold to Coca-Cola on May 5, 1986 for $250 million, was later merged into Columbia Pictures Entertainment on December 21, 1987, and was sold to Sony Corporation along with CPE's other companies on November 8, 1989. On June 4, 1994, Merv Griffin made a deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment through the Griffin Group that he would remain the executive producer of Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune until 2000 and both series would be produced by Columbia TriStar Television (now "Sony Pictures Television") in September. On May 13, 1996, Merv Griffin created "Merv Griffin Entertainment" as his new production company. Today, the Griffin game show library from 1964-1994 is owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment and distributed by Sony Pictures Television. As for Dance Fever and The Merv Griffin Show, they're owned by Merv Griffin Entertainment.
1st Logo (March 30, 1964-January 3, 1975)
Nicknames: "Medieval Griffin", "The Griffin"
Logo: We see a griffin (with the head, wings, and forelegs of an eagle and the body, hindlegs, and tail of a lion) standing on his three legs holding out his left arm on the left side and on the right side says in Old English MT font "A Griffin production".
Variant: On the series finale of the Art Fleming version of Jeopardy!, there was a caption below the logo reading "This program was pre-recorded".
FX/SFX: Just the scrolling of the credits or superimposed.
Music/Sounds: Just the end title of the theme from any show playing.
Availability: Near extinction. Many programs on which this appeared were not preserved. It appeared on The Merv Griffin Show, Let's Play Post Office, and Jeopardy! hosted by Art Fleming. It is available on The Best of The Merv Griffin Show on DVD. It did not appear on Joe Garagiola's Memory Game.
Editor's Note: None.
2nd Logo (1973-November 25, 1983)
Nicknames: "The Griffin II", "The Outlined Griffin", "Opinicus Griffin"
Logo: We now have an outlined detail of an Opinicus griffin (having the head and wings of an eagle and the body, hind legs, and tail of a lion), sitting and holding up his left paw inside a rounded rectangle. There is also a line separating the griffin with the name "MERV GRIFFIN productions" underneath.
Trivia: While it was first used on pilots in 1973 and 1974, this logo made its broadcast debut on the January 6, 1975 premiere of Wheel of Fortune.
- Some mid-'70s episodes of The Merv Griffin Show would have the text "A GRIFFIN PRODUCTION" above the logo.
- The Merv Griffin Show and the 1983 Jeopardy! pilot: Above the logo would carry the text: "A MERV GRIFFIN PRODUCTION".
- Sometimes, the logo would appear in a different color on The Merv Griffin Show.
- Wheel of Fortune: The early years uses a copyright stamp year underneath. Starting in 1978, the words "WHEEL OF FORTUNE Is Produced by" were inserted above the logo along with a Califon copyright stamp below. Starting in late 1983, it appears in yellow.
- On Dance Fever, the text would say "A MERV GRIFFIN PRODUCTION in association with TWENTIETH CENTURY-FOX TELEVISION" with the in-credit MGP logo and the print 20th Century Fox logo next to each other below the text and underneath has the copyright stamp to Anthony Productions and 20th Century Fox Film Corporation.
- Starting in 1979, the logo appears in shadow mode.
FX/SFX: Just the scrolling of the credits or superimposed.
Music/Sounds/Voice-overs: Just the end-title theme or the show's theme from any show playing. Normally you'd hear announcer spiels on any program.
- The All-New Jeopardy! (John Harlan): "(This is) John Harlan speaking), Jeopardy! is a Merv Griffin Production!"
- Wheel of Fortune (Charlie O'Donnell 1975-1980, Jack Clark 1980-1983): Wheel of Fortune is a Merv Griffin Production. (Distributed by King World Productions, Inc. (Prior to fall 1983 syndicated episodes of Wheel of Fortune with Clark announcing)).
- The Merv Griffin Show (Arthur Treacher/Merv Griffin/Carol Bliger):
- "The Merv Show is a Merv Griffin Production, in association with Metromedia Producers Corporation. This program is pre-recorded." (1975-1980)
- "This has been a Merv Griffin Production in association with Metromedia Producers Corporation. This program is pre-recorded." (1980-1983)
- "This has been a Merv Griffin Production in association with King World Productions, Inc." (1983)
- Jeopardy! (Jay Stewart): This has been a Merv Griffin Production! Distributed by King World, Inc. (September 1983 pilot episode)
- No announcer is heard on Dance Fever, the 1973 Shopper's Bazaar pilot, the 1974 Wheel of Fortune pilots, or some broadcast Wheel episodes, such as Chuck Woolery's last episode (December 25, 1981).
Availability: Extremely rare.
- It appeared on Wheel of Fortune, The All-New Jeopardy!, Dance Fever, and The Merv Griffin Show.
- It first appeared on the 1973 Shopper's Bazaar pilot.
- It was also seen on the first pilot episode of Jeopardy! in September 1983.
- It was last seen on Get TV airings of The Merv Griffin Show and Game Show Network airings of the first syndicated season of Wheel of Fortune.
- It appears on The Best of The Merv Griffin Show on DVD.
Editor's Note: None.
3rd Logo (November 28, 1983-March 31, 1993)
Nicknames: "The Griffin III", "The Blinking Griffin", "Stained Glass Griffin", "Full-Colored Griffin", "Opinicus Griffin II"
Logo: Against a black background, inside a box with a sky blue border, we see a very detailed drawing of an Opinicus griffin (a Greek mythological creature with the wings and head of an eagle, and the body, hind legs, and tail of a lion) based on the 1975 Merv Griffin Productions logo, in front of what looks like a chain-link fence. Below that, in a white italic font, we see the text "MERV GRIFFIN PRODUCTIONS". Inside the text, a light blue "chrome" color moves inside it. The griffin later blinks its eye.
Trivia: The blinking eye of this logo was once the basis of a Jeopardy! question. ("The only part of the Merv Griffin Productions emblem that moved").
Bylines: Merv Griffin Enterprises would use one of the following bylines below:
- 1983-1986: (Standard logo with no byline)
- December 22, 1986-1987: Logo and name are smaller and are shifted up to make room for the byline "A unit of The Coca-Cola Company" (in red, with "Coca-Cola" in its signature font; "The" and "Company" in Loki Cola font) underneath the name.
- June 1987-February 5, 1988: "A unit of Coca-Cola TELEVISION" (in red, with "Coca-Cola" in its signature font).
- February 8, 1988-1992: "A Unit of Columbia Pictures Entertainment, Inc." (in the Souvenir font (used for Columbia Pictures from 1975-1993) in yellow or orange).
- September 2, 1991-June 1992: (Bylineless again, because the CPE byline was removed. Logo remains shifted up. Not to be confused with the original 1984 version. This was used during the early years under Sony Pictures Entertainment.)
- September 7, 1992-March 31, 1993: "a Sony Pictures Entertainment company".
- On September 10, 1984, the name was changed to "MERV GRIFFIN ENTERPRISES" after Griffin expanded his company.
- Some 1984 episodes of Jeopardy! and the pilot and the 2nd episode of Headline Chasers, the griffin doesn't blink his eye.
- Mostly, the logo is animated with the griffin blinking its eye. For Wheel of Fortune episodes from February 1984-September 1991, it's just a still picture.
- On the November 12, 1986 episode of Jeopardy! during the 1986 Tournament of Champions, the company name is missing, and the byline "A unit of The Coca-Cola Company" is shifted further up. Plus, the byline is a bit smaller.
- On Ruckus, the logo is completely centered.
- On the 1988 TV special Secrets Women Never Share, a copyright stamp is seen under the logo without the CPE byline.
- Strange Long Version Variant: On post-October 1992 rerun episodes of Jeopardy! on GSN, the standard 1992 MGE logo with the SPE byline had been extended due to Johnny's closing voice-overs. This would plaster over both the J! copyright cards and part of the 1990 King World logo when Gilbert said "Distributed by" and then bring forth the 1997 CTT logo with Charlie O'Donnell announcing "Columbia TriStar Television" over the logo.
Wheel of Fortune Variants: Wheel of Fortune used different custom variations of this logo:
- Late 1983/early-February 1984: Standard logo. It uses the Califon copyright stamp below the MGP name.
- February 27, 1984-1987: A still version of this logo placed onto an art card. The border of the box was silver instead of sky blue and the sides were pretty close in on the griffin. The text, which consisted of the company's name and a Califon Productions, Inc. copyright stamp, was in a Peignot font (as seen on the 1971 Viacom logo and the MTM logo). Some 1985 episodes of the 1984-1985 season would have this logo borderless. Plus, several 1984-1985 episodes would have the copyright stamp say "Califon Production, Inc." Starting in the 1985-1986 season, the company name and the copyright stamp were pacific blue instead of silver. On December 22, 1986, the Coca-Cola byline was placed under the MGE name in the same byline setup as was used on the 1986-1987 Embassy Communications logo in red, with "Coca-Cola" in its signature font and "The" and "Company" in Loki Cola font except "A unit of" wasn't italicized. The name and logo were made smaller and shifted up to place the byline under. A few December 1986 and January 1987 episodes start with a close up of the text with the 1986-1987 Coca-Cola byline and zoomed back to reveal the picture of the griffin. Later 1987 episodes reverted back to the still image.
- Spring 1987?: The text "ALL RIGHTS RESERVED" was added below the copyright stamp in blue.
- November 10, 1987-September 20, 1991: The background was yellow or yellow-orange instead of black. The MGE and Califon copyright stamp (with a copyright "©" symbol) were in dark blue Peignot font and the Coca-Cola Television (later CPE in February 1988) byline was in red, with the phrase "ALL RIGHTS RESERVED" placed at the bottom of the logo. The border on the box was still silver until the end of the 1988-1989 season, when the color of the font and the boarder were changed to the original blue.
- On September 7, 1992-March 1993 episodes, the logo would have the byline "a Sony Pictures Entertainment company" in school bus yellow Arial font shifted down a little lower from the company name.
- Some 1984-1993 Wheel of Fortune episodes would have an effect to bring in the logo:
- 1984-1990 (Nighttime): Some episodes would bring the MGE logo by a wipe effect from the bottom.
- January 29, 1990-1991 (Nighttime): This effect would have the MGE logo flip down and flip back up like a fan to bring forth the King World in-credit logo.
- December 25, 1990: The logo was brought forth with a trilon effect on the Christmas Day 1990 daytime episode.
- January 11, 1991 (Daytime): Many times, the end-title scene zooms back onto a gradient background and flips over to reveal the MGE logo.
- January 14, 1991-1993: A page flipping effect that starts from the upper-left hand corner showing a gold background page behind and bring itself downward to the lower-right hand corner to reveal the logos. Some 1992 episodes didn't feature the full gold background page. This effect was edited out from September-early October episodes and was replaced with the standard 1992 MGE logo with the SPE byline when reran on GSN.
- November 1992: When Wheel of Fortune was taped in Philadelphia, PA during "Philadelphia Week", the logo was brought forth with a straight fade effect.
Dance Fever Variants:
- 1983-1984: "A MERV GRIFFIN PRODUCTION in association with 20th CENTURY - FOX TELEVISION" in Arial font.
- 1984-1986: "MERV GRIFFIN ENTERPRISES" with the phrase "In Association With" fading in below and bring forth the 1981 20th Century Fox Television logo.
- 1986-1987: MERV GRIFFIN ENTERPRISES with "A unit of The Coca-Cola Company" underneath and with the phrase "IN ASSOCIATION WITH" fading in below to bring forth the 1981 20th Century Fox Television logo.
The Merv Griffin Show Variant: Some episodes have the griffin blinking twice.
FX/SFX: The griffin blinking its eye. For Wheel of Fortune, there were various custom effects from 1984-1993.
Music/Sounds/Voice-overs: The closing theme of the show. This logo and the King World logo following it were accompanied by the following announcements:
- Johnny Gilbert, Pilot episode on January 9, 1984: "This has been a Merv Griffin Production! (on the King World text screen) Distributed by King World Productions".
- September 10, 1984-1985: "Jeopardy! is a production of Merv Griffin Enterprises, distributed by King World."
- 1985-1986: "This is Johnny Gilbert speaking, Jeopardy! is a production of Merv Griffin Enterprises and distributed by King World."
- November 1986: "This is Johnny Gilbert speaking, Jeopardy! is produced by Merv Griffin Enterprises and is distributed by King World."
- 1987-1992: "This is Johnny Gilbert speaking, Jeopardy! is a production of Merv Griffin Enterprises and is distributed by King World."
- October 1992-1993: "This is Johnny Gilbert speaking. Jeopardy! is a production of Merv Griffin Enterprises. (copyright screen appears/drum roll is heard) (on the 1990 King World logo with its music) Distributed by King World."
- Wheel of Fortune:
- Jack Clark, November 1983-Fall 1984: "Wheel of Fortune is a Merv Griffin Production. (Distributed by King World Productions, Inc.)"
- Fall 1984-1992, Jack Clark (1984-1988)/M.G. Kelly (1988-1989)/Don Pardo (Two weeks at Radio City in 1988)/Charlie O'Donnell (March 1989-1992): "(This is Charlie O'Donnell speaking) Wheel of Fortune is produced by Merv Griffin Enterprises (Distributed by King World)". (Note: O'Donnell used his name on the final NBC episode of WOF in 1989.)
- October 1991 at Disney-MGM Studios with O'Donnell: "Wheel of Fortune is taped at Disney-MGM Studios in Florida and is a Merv Griffin Enterprises Production. Distributed by King World."
- October 1992-1993 episodes with O'Donnell: "Merv Griffin Enterprises produces... (copyright screen appears/drum roll starts) Wheeeeel of Fortune! (on the 1990 King World logo with its music) Distributed by King World."
- Headline Chasers (Johnny Gilbert): "This is Johnny Gilbert speaking. Headline Chasers is a production of Merv Griffin Enterprises, in association with Wink Martindale, Inc. and distributed by King World.".
- Headline Chasers Pilot (Charlie O'Donnell): "This has been a Merv Griffin Production, in association with Wink Martindale, Inc."
- The Merv Griffin Show (Carol Bilger): "This has been a production of Merv Griffin Enterprises. Distributed by King World and Camelot Entertainment Sales. This program has been recorded.".
- The logos were not accompanied by announcer spiels on Super Jeopardy!, Monopoly, Ruckus (an awful 1991 game show hosted by "The Amazing Jonathan" that only aired on WNBC, GSN later re-aired reruns of the show), and some 1986 episodes of The Merv Griffin Show.
On GSN reruns in 1997, the King World logo would be replaced by the 1994 and 1997 Columbia TriStar Television logo with a Charlie O'Donnell voice-over, resulting in an awkward transition between the two voices. This would happen on Jeopardy!, 1984-1988 and 1983-1988 & 1992-1993 episodes of Wheel of Fortune with Jack Clark and Charlie O'Donnell, and Headline Chasers.
Availability: Extremely rare.
- It was last seen on Get TV airings of The Merv Griffin Show.
- When GSN aired older episodes of Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune in the past, the logo was retained. But if GSN were to begin airing these episodes again, the logo would probably not be seen due to GSN's current practice of running ads during credits and cutting them off early.
- The Best of Merv Griffin Marathon had the WOF logo variants in 2007 to pay tribute to the late Merv Griffin on GSN.
- The logo can be found on the Jeopardy! An Inside Look At America's Favorite Quiz Show DVD, at the end of the first Trebek syndicated episode.
- This was last seen on classic Jeopardy! episodes on Sony Pictures Entertainment's online service Sony Crackle, but as of 12/6/15, the show is no longer available.
- The other variants are extinct.
Editor's Note: Although some young viewers at the time found the griffin's appearance and blinking animation to be scary, overall this is regarded as a classic logo that was seen on two of the most popular game shows ever.
4th Logo (Late January 1993-July 22, 1994)
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Nicknames: "Cloud BG Griffin", "Ultra Majestic Griffin", "Sony Griffin", "'90s Griffin", "The Griffin IV", "Golden Griffin", "Griffin Statue", "Golden Griffin Statue", "Opinicus Griffin III"
Logo: Against the same cloud background as the then-current Columbia Pictures Television logo, we see a gold-colored statue of an Opinicus griffin on a pedestal (appears to be a statue). Underneath the griffin, in the same Bank Gothic MD BT font used on the CPT and TriStar Television logos of the time, is the text "MERV GRIFFIN ENTERPRISES," and under that, the byline "a SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT company." This logo was always followed by a graphic with the show's title card and copyright stamp.
Trivia: This logo was done by Michael J. Deas, who also painted the 1992 Columbia Pictures logo. It was painted in 1992 and debut in 1993.
- On most episodes of Wheel of Fortune, this logo would appear as a turning page effect.
- On a Jeopardy! episode aired on December 23, 1993, the logo was seen on a "Video Daily Double" question. The logo appears to be close-up and there is no text below the griffin statue.
- On several season 9 episodes and one season 10 episode of Jeopardy! from 1993 and 1994, the logo appears on the big board after Johnny Gilbert's voice-over before cutting to the title logo with the copyright stamp and King World logo.
FX/SFX: None for Jeopardy! and Disney-MGM taped episodes of Wheel of Fortune at Walt Disney World, but on the rest of the Wheel of Fortune episodes, it's a page flipping effect.
Music/Sounds/Voice-overs: The closing theme for the show (Jeopardy! or Wheel of Fortune) would fade out as this logo appeared and the show's announcer (Johnny Gilbert on the former, Charlie O'Donnell on the latter) identified the company. A drum roll would play while the title card/copyright info graphic was shown, followed by the (then-current) 1990 King World logo with its music and the announcement "Distributed by King World." Here are the announcements used:
- Jeopardy! (Johnny Gilbert): "This is Johnny Gilbert speaking. Jeopardy! is a production of Merv Griffin Enterprises.".
- Wheel of Fortune (Charlie O'Donnell): "Merv Griffin Enterprises produces... (copyright screen appears/drum roll starts) Wheeeeel of Fortune!".
Availability: Extremely rare.
- It was last seen regularly when GSN aired reruns of 1993-1994 Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune episodes since last decade, followed by the 1997 CTT logo.
- More recently, it showed up at the end of a Late Night with David Letterman episode.
- This was last seen on classic Jeopardy! episodes on Crackle.
Editor's Note: A nice logo update to a classic that was sadly wasted.