BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ-Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, the NPR News quiz . I'm Bill Kurtis filling in for Carl Kasell. We're playing his week with Mo Rocca, Klein, and Alonzo Bodden. And, here again is your host, at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
SAGAL: Thanks Bill. I want to remind everyone about the big nationwide cinema event we're doing May 2nd, WAIT WAIT, live, in a theater near you. Tickets and more information is on our website, waitwait.npr.org.
Right now, though, it's time for the WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME! Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-Wait-Wait to play our game on air. Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!
JOHNNY BLUE: Hello, this is Johnny Blue.
SAGAL: Hey, Johnny Blue, how are you?
BLUE: I'm good, Peter. How are you?
SAGAL: I'm fine. Johnny Blue, is that your name?
BLUE: That's my real name, yes.
SAGAL: What do you do, Johnny Blue?
BLUE: I'm a singer/songwriter.
SAGAL: You are?
SAGAL: Where are you calling from?
BLUE: I'm calling from Toronto in Canada.
SAGAL: You don't sound Canadian.
BLUE: Oh no, this is the way they sound.
SAGAL: Oh, yeah.
SAGAL: So where are you from, Johnny?
BLUE: Originally, I'm from near Glasgow in Scotland.
SAGAL: Oh, I see. So you came to Toronto to be a singer/songwriter?
BLUE: Well, I was a singer/songwriter when I was 10-years-old then I left Scotland at 11, because I graduated the university and came to Toronto.
SAGAL: I understand, well you're a smart guy. Well, Johnny, welcome to the show. You're going to play the game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Bill, what is Johnny's topic?
KURTIS: Gimme the El Remote-O.
SAGAL: No matter what country you live in, you love TV. This week our panelists are going to tell you about three shows from around the world, perhaps even as popular as some of our big hits. Guess the real foreign show and you'll win Carl Kasell's voice on your home voicemail. Ready to go?
BLUE: Oh yeah, great.
SAGAL: All right, first let's hear from Jessi Klein.
JESSI KLEIN: Luxemburg is one of the richest countries in the world, boasting the highest GDP per capita on the planet, and a reputation as a tax shelter for wealthy foreigners. However, the newest hit show on Luxemburgean television represents a bit of a backlash to the flashy quality of life enjoyed by its citizens.
The premise of "Extreme Make-Under Home Edition" is simple. A team of interior designers helps an incredibly rich, over privileged family turn their fabulous mansion into a less offensive temple of human greed.
KLEIN: The premier episode featured the Cheshopfers, husband and wife stockbrokers who own a $30 million 20-room home. Over the course of the show, a team of contractors turned their indoor ski lift into a simple game room, and gave the couple a framed photo of each other in place of their 20-foot porcelain statue of Angelia Jolie.
KLEIN: Their solid gold escalators were replaced with stairs, and their personal IMAX theater was replaced with a television. As one enthusiastic viewer put it, "I love the show because these people are the worst."
SAGAL: Extreme Make-Under Home Edition, making mansions more modest in Luxemburg. Your next story of TV around the world comes from Alonzo Bodden.
ALONZO BODDEN: Those yanks think they know everything, but reverse roads on them and they're like fish flopping out of water. On Britain's Sky TV's new hit show, "The Other Side," Americans are picked up on camera at Heathrow rental car counters, and watched as they drive on British roads.
BODDEN: Some episodes follow unsuspecting yanks as they plunge into the maze of London. Others use dashboard cameras to watch the Americans' faces as they drive 80 miles an hour on the, quote, wrong side of a superhighway.
BODDEN: A popular drinking game is taking a swig every time you yell "other side" at the TV, as yanks drive down the right side of a left-hand road.
BODDEN: The network censors stay pretty busy bleeping out words the Americans to curse God, Queen and country as they spend hour after hour trying the wrong way in a circle, trying to escape the traffic circles.
BODDEN: Another yank made the mistake of asking a Scot for directions. Even native Englishmen don't understand it when they talk.
SAGAL: The wrong side, a reality show of Americans trying to drive in England. And your last story of the vast international wasteland comes from Mo Rocca.
MO ROCCA: "We'll be sawing; we'll be splitting," the hostess purred. "We'll be stacking and we'll be burning." Thus begins Norway's recent blockbuster TV broadcast, "National Firewood Night."
ROCCA: Twelve hours of Norwegians sawing, splitting, stacking and burning firewood.
ROCCA: But wait, it's even more exciting than it sounds. The first four hours is action packed with Norwegians in parkas chopping wood. Then for eight suspenseful hours, the camera stays on a close-up of the wood burning in the fireplace.
ROCCA: For eight hours.
ROCCA: Quote, "I couldn't go to bed because I was so excited," one viewer wrote, after the premier. "When will they add new logs?"
ROCCA: A full fifth of Norway's population tuned into the premier. Of course, it wouldn't be a hit without some controversy. Quote, "50 percent complained that the bark was facing up, and the rest complained that the bark was facing down," said Lars Metting, the author whose best seller on chopping, drying and stacking wood was the basis of the TV show. "One thing that really divides Norway is bark."
SAGAL: All right. Before we ask you to choose, there was a little dig at Scotsmen in Alonzo's story. How do you feel about that?
BLUE: Well, you know, I have a hard time understanding those guys myself.
SAGAL: I understand.
SAGAL: Well let's review your choices. From Alonzo, in fact, you had the story of a show about Britain's watching Americans trying to drive on their roads.
From Jessi Klein, it was a TV show from Luxemburg called "Extreme Make-Under Home Edition," where people, I guess, un-decorated over-the-top houses.
And from Mo, a Norwegian TV show, a hit show all about firewood, including eight hours of just watching it burn. Which of these is the real international TV hit?
BLUE: I'd love it if it was the driving one because I think that's a real sure fire hit.
BLUE: But it's the Norwegian story, I'm sure.
SAGAL: Really? You know that it's the Norwegian firewood story?
BLUE: I'm pretty sure, yeah.
SAGAL: All right, well that's your choice. We actually spoke to someone who helped create that real show.
LARS METTING: I live in the inland parts of the country and it's in my blood to stack with the bark down. That was a big discussion here in Norway.
SAGAL: That was the man himself, Lars Metting, whose book "Solid Wood: All About Chopping, Drying and Stacking Wood" was the basis for the hit Norwegian TV show "National Firewood Night."
SAGAL: Congratulations, Johnny, you got it right.
SAGAL: Well done. You earned a point for Mo, for being truthful for once, and you've won our prize. Carl Kasell will record the greeting on your home answering machine. Johnny, thank you so much for playing with us today.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.