Survey says: North Hills family tries to hit it big on Family Feud
By Natalie Beneviat
Published: Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, 9:29 p.m.
A chance at a brand-new car, $100,000 and the opportunity to make America laugh was an easy answer for the Heiberts of the North Hills, who said “Yes” at the opportunity to be contestants on television's long-running game show “Family Feud.”
The family of five will test their knowledge against the O'Neal family from Louisville, Ky., on Oct. 5, at 7 p.m., according to eldest brother Greg Heibert.
The winner is determined by which family gets the most points by guessing the most popular answers to random survey questions answered by people across the country.
And it's thanks to sibling Angela that their chance of “Family Feud” fame was just a short trip downtown, said Greg, of Pine Township.
“Soon as we found out we thought, ‘Aw man, this is cool,'” said Greg, 51.
He is joined on the show by siblings Angela Heibert, 49, of Sewickley; Bonnie Shupp, 47, formerly of Boston, who just moved to Switzerland; Chris, 44, of Ross Township; and Melissa Burnfield, 42, of Mars.
The show was holding auditions all over the country, including Pittsburgh, last year. Along with hundreds of other families, the Heiberts went to the auditions and were asked to play a round of Family Feud.
It didn't matter that they lost the practice games.
“We were so terrible in auditions that we were shocked,” said Melissa about getting called back.
And like all things in life, it's not just if you win or lose, it's how you play the game.
“We look for families who have great energy and enthusiasm, families who are familiar with the game and know how to play it, and families who are supportive of each other and have excellent chemistry together,” said Courtney Smith, who works for the game show.
The family found out last winter that they made the cut and they practiced at every family function they could during the months afterward.
The Heiberts, along with nine other families, were flown to Atlanta early this summer for a day of taping. Greg said the families were asked to play the game to see how they came across on the camera.
The close-knit Heiberts apparently had the qualities the “Family Feud” was seeking.
“We were hilarious and we had an absolute blast,” said Greg.
“We all inherited the sarcastic gene,” said Melissa.
She said that despite months of practicing with her siblings at home, it was hard to be prepared.
Greg said the questions can be so “far-fetched” and unpredictable. And, he said, trying to hit the answer buzzer first even was difficult.
One of their favorite parts of taping was getting to enjoy host and comedian Steve Harvey having fun with the families.
“He was hysterical. He pretty much does his comedy act the whole time,” Melissa said.
And despite the name, there wasn't any feuding with the O'Neal family — just some “friendly” bantering.
Greg said his siblings thought he would be the one who gave the most embarrassing answers and, therefore, didn't select him to be in the potential “Fast-Money Round,” which is played by the first family who makes 300 points and thus wins the game.
The “Fast-Money Round” involves quick thinking and determines the prize for the winner, with a maximum of $20,000 for 200 points, said Smith.
Families that win five days in a row automatically win a car, and potentially up to $100,000, she said.
And despite his family's predictions, Greg said he ended up not being the most embarrassing on the show.
“It was obvious who it was,” said Greg, adding viewers will be able to recognize it.
If they win, they are going to use the money to visit Bonnie who just moved to Switzerland. Melissa said the show was a great way to spend time with her family before she made the big move.
Greg is inviting everyone to come to Sunny Jim's Tavern at 255 Camp Horne Road in Pittsburgh at 6:30 p.m. to watch him and his siblings on the local CW station that night.
And, he said, they'll even be setting up a hometown “Family Feud” game with another family at the restaurant for fun.
Natalie Beneviat is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.
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