For years, Brookfield native Patty Chirumbolo has been a self-proclaimed pop culture guru. At the drop of a hat, she can tell you the hottest famous couples, describe plots for TV shows and movies and provide play-by-play of the latest episodes of many reality programs.
While friends have laughed at her obsession with everything Hollywood, Chirumbolo’s entertainment knowledge recently paid off when she won a spot as a contestant on NBC’s popular primetime game show “Hollywood Game Night.”
Chirumbolo, whose maiden name is Meza, is a 1995 graduate of Riverside-Brookfield High School, and now resides in Lombard, working as an English language learner specialist. She secured a spot playing party games with celebrities after months of trying to apply online.
An avid viewer of “Hollywood Game Night” with her husband, it did not take much to convince her that she had what it takes to make it from the couch to the set.
“Everyone has always made fun of me for reading Us Weekly, watching ‘The Real Housewives’ and doing all that pop culture stuff,” she said. “This game is the perfect avenue to show all this stuff in my head. I kept checking on the apply section on the website and it was always closed. In February, it finally said ‘now accepting applications for season three’ and I immediately filled it out.”
Two weeks later, Chirumbolo received a call from the show’s casting crew in Los Angeles. The show flew Chirumbolo and her husband out to NBC Universal’s studios for three days in mid-March.
“I didn’t know I would be on until I got there,” Chirumbolo said, explaining the screening process before final contestant selection. “There are [several] rounds of interviews [where] you talk to producers who want to know everything about you. They fly out the finalists, go through one more interview when you get there and the producers then decide then if you’re going to be on the show.”
The episodes of “Hollywood Game Night” square off two contestants who are each teamed with three celebrities. The teams compete in party games similar to charades and Pictionary.
All topics revolve around celebrity trivia, and the team that wins the most points over five rounds goes to a bonus round for a chance to win up to $25,000. Emmy Award-winning actress and south suburban Dolton native Jane Lynch serves as the host of the show.
Chirumbolo was teamed up with actors Kevin Smith, of the Jay and Silent Bob films; Justin Long, who has appeared in dozens of films and commercials; and Haley Joel Osment, who won an Academy Award nomination as a child for his role in The Sixth Sense.
“They were cool and all so nice,” she said of her famous teammates. “Everyone was joking around and having a great time. They were fantastic and down to earth and nobody had any ‘I’m a star’ attitude.”
Between preparing for the show and filming, she was on set for six hours.
“We got to go backstage and they carted us around in golf carts so we felt like celebrities. It was so awesome and a neat experience,” she added.
Tune in to Chirumbolo’s episode of “Hollywood Game Night” on Tuesday, Aug. 11 at 9 p.m. on NBC to see if she came back home a winner.