PEPPERELL -- Anyone who tuned into "Family Feud" last Wednesday afternoon may have recognized a few of the faces that appeared on the screen. Pepperell resident Margie O'Connor and her four children, Ed, 34, Brian, 30, Katie, 28, and Jeff, 24, were chosen to appear on the show last summer. It aired on Feb. 13 at 3:30 p.m.
It all began with Ed, who sent a humorous yet accurate family bio to the producers in the spring of 2012. Ed, the assistant general manager of the Best Western in Chelmsford, has made a hobby out of auditioning for parts as movie extras once a year just for the fun of it. (Fans of "The Invention of Lying" with Ricky Gervais will recognize him in the pizza box scene.)
It was this hobby that led to trying out for "Family Feud."
"It just came up and we like to do things as a family," said Ed. "We don't want to be stars or anything, but 15 minutes of fame is always fun."
His mom and sister were easy to talk into auditioning. His brothers took more convincing. Meanwhile, since teams can only have five members, his dad, Kevin, elected to sit out.
"He's not an in-the-spotlight type of guy," said Ed.
After being chosen to audition, the family drove to Foxwoods in April and made it through the first round of auditions.
"We're a hyper family and kind of loud. We were bouncing off the walls. They liked the energy," said Ed.
A month after auditions, the O'Connors received a postcard saying they were chosen as potential candidates for the episode. The five team members were flown down to Atlanta, Ga. The rest of their family followed suit to play the role of cheering squad. The contestants had to film a mock episode with another family to simulate the environment they would be in.
"We were super excited. It didn't mean we made it, it meant we could. They flew us down and we had to do another audition down there up on the set to make sure we didn't get stage fright in the middle of the episode," said Ed.
It was once they were chosen to be filmed for an episode that the nerves began to kick in. All the contestants were flown back down to Atlanta the day before the episodes were going to be filmed. Nobody knew who they would be going up against in the games. The day before filming, the O'Connors ended up hanging out in the pool for four hours with the family that would become their opponents.
The next day, all contestants had to arrive at the studio at 7 a.m. to begin filming. Seven 40-minute episodes were filmed in a single day, but not all the episodes would ultimately go on to be aired.
While two families were filmed, the remainder of the group sat in the audience.
"Half the audience was potential contestants," said Ed.
The waiting was the most challenging part, but midday, the O'Connors were called up to compete. Now, said Ed, the focus was on nothing else but getting the questions right.
And they weren't easy questions. One was to name one thing your wife doesn't like about you.
"It just seems so much easier at home," said Ed.
The O'Connors made it into the sudden death round with their opponents; the final moments of the game boiled down to answering a fill-in-the-blank: "below the --."
Ultimately, they lost to their opponents.
"If we got two of the 'below the --' answers, we would have won," said Ed. "But we had fun. We're a very animated family."
The day after filming, the O'Connors flew back to the northeast, thus ending the family adventure.
"We lost, but it was completely worth it as a family," said Ed. "We had a great time."
Margie and Kevin have owned their house in Pepperell for 37 years. Their children, all of whom graduated from North Middlesex Regional High School, have since dispersed but all remain in New England.