September 14, 1994
Genre(s): Drama, History
The 1950s quiz show Twenty One is popular with TV audiences. Herbert Stempel from Queens, NY is currently the reigning champion. His ability to get each question right has made him a minor celebrity. With his ratings appeal flattening, the network and corporate sponsor decide its time for a fresh face. The producers of Twenty One find Columbia University instructor Charles Van Doren. He has the right intellectual chops the show needs to stimulate ratings. Producers entice Van Doren by offering to provide quiz answers. Van Doren refuses. Meanwhile, producers convince Stempel to purposely lose to set up a face off with Van Doren. Van Doren goes on a winning streak and allows himself to be fed answers. Stempel feels betrayed and exposes the show as a fake.