HOLLYWOOD’S CALLING: Mississippi family to air on Family Feud game show

Published 2:14 pm Tuesday, March 21, 2023

In life, whenever Noland Biglane knew that one of his children or grandchildren was featured in the newspaper or had their 15 minutes of fame, Papa would always say, “Hollywood’s calling.”

In 2020, when Hollywood actually called, the Biglane girls knew they had made “Papa” proud, they said. The Biglane family of Natchez will be featured on Family Feud, but not the kind that makes one skip out on family reunions.

The Biglane cousins — Joanna, Rebecca, Presley and Lauren — and cousin-in-law Melinda, will be on the hit game show starring Steve Harvey. The show airs in three segments on April 20, 21, and 24. In Natchez, people can tune in to watch it on WJTV Channel 12 at 6 p.m. on those dates.

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Pre-COVID, Lauren Biglane Middleton, the daughter of Phyllis Copeland and Mike Biglane, noticed auditions were happening in New Orleans around the time the family would all be together for Thanksgiving 2019 and suggested they all go.

“I thought that it would be a fun thing for us to do together, almost jokingly,” Middleton said. “Who imagines that you are going to end up on a game show? It was just for fun. But then we got there, the rest is history.”

For their audition, Presley Taylor Jennings, the daughter of John Taylor and Kay Biglane Taylor, said they came in with “flair,” homecoming-like ribbons listing all of the Biglane extended family “team” members and inscribed with Papa’s favorite slogan, “Hollywood’s calling!”

“Whenever he would call us and say that we would smile, laugh and that’s one of the memories we have with him,” said Joanna Biglane McNeel, the daughter of Pat and Karen Biglane. “We know how proud he and Grandma Dot would be seeing us having fun as a family on TV. It was the most fun experience ever to do this with my cousins and sister-in-law (Melinda). I think we will treasure the memories we had that week, the tryouts and everything.”

Originally, the show was to be filmed in Los Angeles but was pushed back two years during the pandemic. Instead, the Biglanes were called to Atlanta, Georgia, in the summer of 2022.

It was likely the positive family chemistry, not feuding, that affirmed the Biglanes slot on the show, said Rebecca Biglane Black, the daughter of Freddie and Jean Biglane.

Six families audition for the show’s two production days at the same time. Which teams make the final cut to appear on television all depends on their behavior both on and off camera.

“They encouraged us to be on all the time and remain up and upbeat,” she said. “They tell you that at the audition. You’re brought to the studio with no guarantee that you will appear on the show. They reiterate that they are watching you when you are rehearsing and in the crowd watching and when you are eating meals together. They are watching your family’s chemistry and how you support one another.

“The wonderful thing about it is that we met all of these really awesome families. We were all cheerleaders for them at some point. We had to harness every bit of that pep rally energy — and our family has a lot of energy. By the end, I was actually thankful when we had to wear our masks because they gave us a chance to rest our faces. They don’t want to see a family feud. It’s a game and they want to see people having fun. And it was crazy fun.”

The show features two family groups who guess the most popular answers to surveys in order to win. Each round of survey questions follows the “three strikes and you’re out” rule, where every answer that doesn’t appear on the board counts as a strike.

One family the Biglanes were paired with was the Pollards, whom they’ve kept up with since the filming of the show in Atlanta, Black said, adding they were “a fun, incredibly warm family to share this experience with.”

The experience overall “exceeded expectations,” from preparing and meeting the crew to greeting Steve Harvey for the first time, said Melinda Jet Biglane, wife of Patrick Biglane.

Between filming, Harvey does a standup comedy routine that keeps the contestants loose and the audience rolling with laughter.

Together the family laughs, cheers and uplifts each other whenever one is upset.

“It has just been a roller coaster of emotions from day one with up-and-down anxiety and just having fun,” she said. “The overall experience is just indescribable. And Steve is everything you’d expect from watching him on TV and then some.”

McNeel agreed.

“Everyone from the producers and crew were all fantastic. And being so used to seeing Steve Harvey on TV, you want to smile, give him a hug and say ‘hey Steve’ like you know him already.”

Jennings said it was a “once in a lifetime experience” that she would “love to go back and do all over again.”

“We are all grateful to have had this experience and represent not only our family but Natchez, too,” she said.