Christners 'Feud' on TV
By Stacy Wolford
Published: Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, 1:11 a.m.
A Mon Valley family will appear Friday on a national game show for a shot at $100,000 and a new car.
While members of the Christner family who competed on the “Family Feud” can't divulge the outcome of the show, they returned home with rich memories.
The “Family Feud” episode, hosted by Steve Harvey, will air 7:30 p.m. Friday on WPCW (CW 19.)
The Christner family “Feud” team comprises John, a Rostraver Township police officer; his wife, Tracy, a mortgage originator; John's twin brother, Jim, a retail manager; his wife, Laurie, a nurse practitioner; and brother Christopher, a deputy sheriff.
The episode will appear during network television's important ratings sweeps week.
The family, including Christopher's wife, Desiree, an alternate for the show, gathered earlier this week over dinner to talk – and laugh – about their experience.
Tracy Christner, of Rostraver Township, initiated the process by sending an email to “Family Feud” in early fall 2011.
“It was just a spur-of-the-moment decision,” she said.
To her surprise, she was contacted within a few weeks by the show's producers and asked to attend an audition in Downtown Pittsburgh in November 2011.
Various families were separated into four rooms and played matches against each other. Unlike other television competitions, in which winners are announced in front of the candidates, those who made the cut were told to keep it a secret.
“As we were leaving, a lady slipped me a ticket with a smiley face on it, and I knew we were in,” Tracy Christner said.
The family was thrilled to make it through the first round of auditions, as they had to compete against hundreds of families.
“We just went in there and decided to have fun,” John Christner said.
The family members said the producers were seeking people with big personalities who are not camera shy.
“So we just went on there as ourselves, just louder,” Tracy Christner said with a laugh.
Several months passed before an April 24 trip to Atlanta, where the show is filmed before a live audience. The Christners were told there was no guarantee they would be selected to appear on the show.
Nonetheless, Jim Christner, of North Belle Vernon, said the close-knit family used its extra time to practice.
“We all have such busy careers and families, so it's hard sometimes to get together,” Jim Christner said.
“We were able to spend a lot of time together, which made it an even more memorable experience.”
The family brought an entourage of about a dozen relatives with them to the taping, including John's and Tracy's daughters, Jenna, 17, and Megan, 14; and Christopher's and Desiree's son, Christopher Jr., 16.
The show paid for travel expenses and hotel accommodations for the five contestants.
During the day of filming, the family had to audition again, this time playing against 11 other families for a chance at the prize money. The Christners said they were surprised when they were chosen as the first family to compete against the returning champions, the Gallagher family of Atlantic City, N.J.
“It all just happened so fast, we really didn't expect it,” Tracy Christner said.
Filming for the Christner's show began around lunchtime. It took about an hour to film the show, which will run for about 22 minutes on television.
Desiree Christner, of Rostraver Township, said she enjoyed watching the family from the audience.
“I kept wanting to shout out answers to them,” she said.
Her husband, Christopher, joked that he was wishing he could trade places with her.
“A lot of the questions were pretty racy,” Christopher Christner said. “It's no holds barred.”
Laurie Christner said she got herself into a bit of trouble.
“What was said by me was really embarrassing,” she said.
The family agrees that this version of “Family Feud” is a lot different than the days when original host Richard Dawson was on the show. Many of the survey questions are about sex, marriage and other adult topics.
Harvey made it an entertaining experience, they claimed.
“He was really down-to-earth and made us feel comfortable,” John Christner said. “He was making everyone laugh during the whole taping.”
Afterward, the Christners enjoyed a day in Atlanta, taking in the sites.
“That was definitely one of the highlights, having the whole family together on a vacation,” Tracy Christner said.
The Christners came away proud of their accomplishment and how far they came as a family in the competition.
While the Christner brothers are looking forward to the show Friday, their wives are apprehensive about seeing themselves on high-definition TV.
“I'm a little nervous,” Laurie Christner said with a laugh.
The Christners said they will treasure the memories of their “Family Feud” experience.
“We were together as a family, and that's what's most important,” John Christner said. “We have a lifetime of memories to take with us.”
Stacy Wolford is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-684-2640 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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