Harry Friedman is one of TV's most prolific producers. Since joining Sony Pictures Television in 1995, Friedman has produced more than 6,000 episodes of the two most successful syndicated programs of all time, Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune.
Named a 2012 Daily Variety Daytime TV Impact Honoree, Friedman is known for staying ahead of the curve with innovative game elements, theme weeks and the latest technology. In September 2006, both shows made television history when they became the first syndicated programs to broadcast in High Definition. Friedman has also championed the development of both for mobile devices, along with versions for Facebook, Nintendo's Wii and Playstation.
Friedman has led Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune to win the industry's highest honors. In 2011, both shows celebrated a rare double win at the Daytime Emmy Awards. There was a tie in the Outstanding Game Show category and both won. Friedman became the first producer ever to win two Emmys in the same category in a tie with himself. To date, Friedman has earned 11 Emmy Awards, the most won by a game show producer.
Under Friedman's direction, the hit series Jeopardy! has become the most honored syndicated game show in television history. This year, Friedman guided Jeopardy! to win its first-ever Peabody Award. The awards panel credited the show for its role in "encouraging, celebrating and rewarding knowledge." Jeopardy! has won a total of 30 Emmy Awards, including the 2012 Emmy for Outstanding Game/Audience Participation Program.
Friedman has continued to broaden the show's scope with an expanded list of challenging categories and clues that reflect popular culture and a variety of special tournaments. In 2003, he lifted Jeopardy!'s five-day limit rule for contestants, allowing returning champions to continue amassing winnings as long as they remain victorious. This rule change led the way for the memorable 74-consecutive-day run of Utah software engineer Ken Jennings, during which he won a record $2.5 million. Series viewership increased an impressive 30 percent during the streak, at times outperforming primetime programs while making it one of the most talked-about shows in the country.
In 2011, Friedman oversaw "Jeopardy! The IBM Challenge," a historic competition that pitted two of the show's most successful and celebrated contestants - Jennings and Brad Rutter - against an IBM computer named Watson. Thanks to this unique partnership, Jeopardy! served as a vital testing ground for the next generation of artificial intelligence. The three-day exhibition matches scored the series' highest ratings in five years, surging 30 percent from the previous year, making Watson a pop culture icon and a part of the American lexicon.
Friedman's ideas have reached far beyond the famous Stage 10 at Sony Studios where Jeopardy! is taped. He was instrumental in the creation of the Clue Crew, a team of roving correspondents who travel the world delivering visual clues for the millions of viewers back home. Additionally, Friedman plays a very active role in www.jeopardy.com, an interactive community with over 400,000 monthly visitors.
At Wheel of Fortune, Friedman has kept the show fresh and exciting while offering contestants more chances to win. New elements Friedman has implemented through the years include: The "1/2 Car Tag," "Free Play," "Toss Up" puzzles, brand integration opportunities, a "Jackpot Round," the "Mystery Round," the "$100,000 Bonus Round," the "Wild Card" and the "Million Dollar Bonus Wedge." He also oversaw the introduction of a new, highly sophisticated set, which incorporates state-of-the-art lighting, as well as a modernized puzzleboard with LCD screens and the ability for letters to appear with a touch of Vanna White's hand.
In addition, Friedman is responsible for giving fans of the show more of what they want: more ways to play, interact with the show and more ways to win. To help fans play more, he oversaw the development and launch of games for various mobile devices and game consoles. Also, he has implemented an interactive "tweetstakes," where a partially revealed puzzle appears during the contestant interviews and fans are invited to tweet the correct solution to be eligible for a prize.
Because of Friedman's vision, fans can now interact with the show through WheelofFortune.com, earn stickers by checking in on Get Glue or communicate with the show through Wheel of Fortune's Facebook page and Twitter handles. Also in 2012, he worked with a team of developers to create a Yahoo! Interactive television application for Wheel of Fortune that allows viewers to have a side-by-side experience with their favorite game show.
The Wheel Watchers Club, the first-ever, long-term, online viewer loyalty program in television history, and its extension, the SPIN I.D. program, were both developed by Friedman. The club's membership has now reached more than 6 million loyal fans who have the opportunity to win $5,000 each night if their SPIN ID is revealed during the show.
Additionally, he conceptualized the Wheelmobile, a mobile tour conducting contestant search events across the country.
In 2007, Friedman was honored by the National Association of Television Program Executives with the prestigious Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Award. Later that year, he was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame.
A native of Omaha, Neb., Friedman developed an early fascination with television programming and personalities, including a young, local celebrity named Johnny Carson. Long before the concept of student internships was created, Friedman began hanging around Omaha's first television stations, learning by watching and doing whatever management permitted.
While attending the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Friedman also worked as a reporter and feature writer for the Lincoln Star newspaper.
In 1971, Friedman arrived in Los Angeles and, without contacts, gave himself six months to find a job in the business. With less than 24 hours remaining on his self-imposed deadline, he talked his way into a part-time question-writer spot on "Hollywood Squares." That association marked the beginning of his long, valued relationship with Heatter-Quigley Productions. Over the next 11 years, Friedman wrote and produced thousands of episodes of the popular series and was also actively involved in the development of several other game shows, including "Gambit" and "High Rollers." He first joined Wheel of Fortune as a producer in 1995, adding producer duties for Jeopardy! in 1997.
In 1998, he helped launch Rock & Roll Jeopardy!, which aired on the VH1 network. Friedman's other writing and producing credits range from network primetime specials, such as "American Yearbook" for CBS, to documentaries and home video. He also has worked with such companies as FOX, Dick Clark Productions, Stephen J. Cannell Productions, Buena Vista Television/ABC, Orion Television, The Playboy Channel, Laurel Entertainment, Vin Di Bona Productions, A&E Network, Krofft Productions, Rosner Television and Four Star Productions.
A member of the Writers Guild of America-West and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Friedman lives in Los Angeles with his wife.