New National Poll Finds: More Americans Know Snow White's Dwarfs Than Supreme Court Judges, Homer Simpson Than Homer's Odyssey, and Harry Potter Than Tony Blair

DULLES, Va. & UTICA, N.Y.--()--Aug. 14, 2006--

  Gold Rush Pop Culture Poll from AOL and Mark Burnett - Conducted by Zogby International - Confirms America Knows More About Pop Culture Than History or News  



Americans are more familiar with the Seven Dwarfs, The Three Stooges, Harry Potter, Homer Simpson and Superman than the news of the day, world leaders or classic literature according to a new national poll* commissioned by the producers of Gold Rush, a groundbreaking seven-week interactive reality game focused on pop culture, and conducted by Zogby International. The survey was commissioned by the game's producers to gauge America's pop culture know-how, and help shape Gold Rush's pop culture trivia challenges. Gold Rush, from AOL and Mark Burnett Productions, will be available at aol.com/goldrush beginning September 13, 2006.

When asked to name two of Snow White's Seven Dwarfs and two of the nine U.S. Supreme Court Justices, 77% of Americans polled were able to identify two dwarfs, while only 24% could name two Supreme Court Justices. Not surprisingly, Clarence Thomas, whose nomination was marked by controversy, was the most recognized Justice -- identified twice as often as his next best-known peer on the Supreme Court -- Antonin Scalia.

When knowledge of classic literature was compared to popular animated series, 60% of poll respondents were able to identify Homer as the father of Bart Simpson, while only 21% could name one of Homer's epic Greek poems. Knowledge of government did not fare much better with 73% of those polled able to name all three of The Three Stooges, while only 42% could name the three branches of government.

Americans' knowledge of fictional super heroes and boy wizards eclipsed our collective knowledge of astronomy and world leaders. Krypton was identified correctly by 60% of the respondents as Superman's planet of origin, while only 37% were able to name Mercury as the closest planet to the sun. Our British counterparts might be surprised to learn that more Americans (57%) were able to correctly identify Harry Potter as the name of J.K. Rowling's fictional boy wizard who lives in England than were able to successfully name Tony Blair as the current Prime Minister of England - only 50%.

Surprisingly, despite record-breaking ratings, when asked who the newest American Idol is as of May 2006, only 23% of those polled named Taylor Hicks. Still, while that may seem low, it was double the percentage of those who recalled which Supreme Court Judge was confirmed in January 2006. Only 11% answered "Samuel Alito."

Also worth noting is that some topical issues appear to make an impression on Americans both in real life and in fiction. According to the Gold Rush poll, more than 67% of those questioned correctly named President George W. Bush as the world leader who had signed a secret order authorizing the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on U.S. citizens and foreign nationals. When asked which CBS program allowed cameras and microphones to spy on houseguests, a full third (33%) identified Big Brother.

"These results are not about how 'dumb' Americans are, but about how much more effectively popular culture information is communicated and retained by citizens than many of the messages that come from government, educational institutions and the media. There are important lessons to be learned here," said Professor Robert Thompson. Professor Thompson is founding director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture and Trustee Professor of Television and Popular Culture at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, and served as a consultant to the producers on the poll.

According to Mark Burnett, Emmy(R) -winning reality TV producer and creator of AOL's Gold Rush, "America thrives on pop culture - clearly these poll results support that. People absorb this information like sponges, and our game, Gold Rush lets you turn all of that accumulated knowledge into gold."

About Gold Rush(TM)

With more than $2 million in gold hidden across the United States, Gold Rush will combine the excitement of online game play with offline integrations and reality competitions, creating a unique hybrid broadband video experience.

The game will last seven weeks. Players will answer a series of pop culture challenges using clues scattered throughout the world of media and pop culture - on AOL.com, CBS Television network programming and in popular magazines. The first three players in each round to complete the required challenges will be whisked away to a specially selected location to compete--reality-style--for $100,000 in gold. The victor of the 13th and final round will claim a $1 million grand prize.

Gold Rush will premiere on AOL.com on September 13, 2006, with the first televised clue being broadcast September 14 on the CBS Television Network. For more information on the game, log on to: www.aol.com/goldrush

Sample Questions and Detailed Results

1.  What is the name of Homer's son on The Simpsons?

    Results:
    "Bart"--60.4%
    "Other"--1.1%
    "Not Sure"--38.4%

2.  What is the name of one of Homer's epic poems about ancient 
    Greece?

    Results:
    "Iliad"--14.1%
    "Odyssey"--6.4%
    "Other"--1.6%
    "Not Sure"--77.9%

3.  What is the name of J.K. Rowling's fictional boy wizard who lives
    in England?

    Results:
    "Harry Potter"--56.6%
    "Other"--.9%
    "Not Sure"--42.5%

4.  What is the name of the current Prime Minister of England?

    Results:
    "Tony Blair"--49.5%
    "Other"--3.6%
    "Not Sure"--46.9%

* NOTE: Poll results based on 1,213 adults from across the United
States questioned by telephone, July 21-27, 2006. Complete methodology
and detailed survey results available upon request. In addition, Gold
Rush also commissioned Zogby International to conduct 10 similar pop
culture polls in regional markets (Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas,
Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York City, Philadelphia,
Washington, D.C., and Seattle). Regional survey results are also
available upon request.

About Mark Burnett Productions

Mark Burnett Productions (MBP) is a leading production company in content for both primetime television and the Internet. MBP revolutionized television with hits such as Eco-Challenge, Survivor, The Apprentice, The Contender, Rock Star: INXS, Rock Star: Supernova and its upcoming co-production with Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks Television, On The Lot. MBP has also partnered with AOL on the eagerly anticipated adventure GOLD RUSH, a unique, unscripted project to be produced exclusively for the Internet. MBP also successfully reintroduced product placement as an integral part of each of its shows and has garnered a total of 33 Emmy nominations since 2001. Mark Burnett was listed as the #1 Most Valuable Player by TV Guide and in Time Magazine's Top 100 most influential people in the world today.

About AOL

AOL and its subsidiaries operate a leading network of Web brands and the largest Internet access subscription service in the United States. Web brands include the AOL.com(R) website and the AIM(R) , MapQuest(R) and Netscape(R) services. AOL offers a range of digital services in the areas of education, safety and security, communications and music. The company also has operations in Europe and Canada. AOL LLC is a majority-owned subsidiary of Time Warner Inc. and is based in Dulles, Virginia.

For free hi-res stills related to Gold Rush, such as of creator Mark Burnett and the Gold Rush logo, please log onto www.thenewsmarket.com/aol to make requests. Registration and stills are free to the media.

Contacts

AOL
Laura Goldberg
o: 212-206-4472
c: 347-683-1859
laurabgoldberg@aol.com
or
Abbey Nayor
o: 212-561-7455
c: 917-887-3628
abbey.nayor@morris-king.com

Contacts

AOL
Laura Goldberg
o: 212-206-4472
c: 347-683-1859
laurabgoldberg@aol.com
or
Abbey Nayor
o: 212-561-7455
c: 917-887-3628
abbey.nayor@morris-king.com