Well, it’s official, I’m going to be on a game show. That is not something I ever really thought I would say. While secretly on my bucket list, this was my first time ever trying out for a show…and I guess you can say my audition went pretty well! This Thursday I will make my network television debut on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire! Now I am officially sworn to secrecy on the details of my game until it airs, but I thought I would share my experience (we’ll talk game afterwards – check here for my game review!).
So it all started like this…my son went to a half day preschool and now goes to half day Kindergarten. That puts our lunch time right around the same time as Who Wants to Be a Millionaire; so we got in the habit of watching. I answer the questions out loud and my son shouts out the answer he thinks it will be (of course always changing his answer to the correct one once it was revealed). We have fun with it. I noticed I get a lot of the answers right, but it is always seems easy when you are an armchair quarterback. As a lark I looked into the audition process but I didn’t want to make the effort to go to NYC to try out ($$$, babysitter, etc). So I made a promise to myself that if they ever came to Philly I would audition. Well, they did; and so, I did.
My husband took the day off work to watch the boy, and with just the application I printed off the internet and a book to read in line (Dragonfly in Amber), I caught the train to the city. No fuss, no muss. I didn’t study at all because I figured how can you study general trivia; you either know it or you don’t. Auditions were held at the convention center and when I arrived, about 20 minutes before the doors opened, the line stretched down almost a complete city block.
Groups of about 200 people were let in to the testing room at a time. I was in the second group. We sat tightly at cafeteria style tables and were handed Millionaire pencils (yes, I got to keep it!) and a scantron testing card. We were given our instructions (cell phones away, no talking, etc.), the tests, and then 10 minutes to answer 30 questions. I knew right away that time was of the essence – 33 seconds per question. So I went through and only answered the questions I knew, circling back to focus on the the few that stumped me afterwards. I was pleasantly surprised that I seemed to know most of the answers. There was only 1 question that completely baffled me and that was some long math word problem. As they graded the tests in the back, most of the people started up conversations about “what did you answer for this or that question”. I was feeling pretty confident because I seemed to have a lot of correct answers. They called out the people that passed by their test numbers (from the scantron sheet) and towards the end (of what seemed like a infinite list), finally, they called my number. I was on to the next level.
I would estimate about 40 people out of the 200 moved on. Only one of the people that had been around me in line and at the tables also went through. We were taken into another, much smaller room and told to wait for our names to be called for our interviews. I met with Jennifer, and we chatted about who I was and what kind of things I would do with a million dollars. We talked casually and laughed a bit and then I was told to go wait in another area. Apparently this meant I passed on to yet another level! At this point I got kind of excited…I was DOING it! Only about 10 people were sitting in this separate area while multiple groups were being funneled in and out of the interviews. I went into the final audition room and did a one on one on-camera mock show with one of the producers. Quite honestly, I couldn’t read him at all, so I couldn’t tell how I did. He didn’t laugh at my jokes and I got one of the questions wrong, but I wasn’t sure how he was judging the session. He said if I made it, I would get a postcard in the mail in a couple weeks and then I would be in a contestant pool waiting for my turn to play for up to two years.
Two weeks later I got a phone call – could I be in New York and tape as a contestant on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire in two days? Um…YEAH! Time to scramble. My Mom offered to come watch the boy and Mike was able to get off work at the last minute. I shopped for hours looking for something to wear on television…I was totally NOT “ready for my close up Mr. Demille!” I also filled out a ton of paperwork, legal and informational, and carefully combed over all the rules and requirements for my participation. Then, we caught a train, and headed to NYC.
I had a 7:00 am call time (which is SUPER EARLY for me) so after re-ironing my 3 outfit choices it was straight to bed. Mike, who as my “companion” who would be sitting in the audience during the entire day of tapings, didn’t have to arrive till 9:45 am; but he accompanied me to the studio and then went off to grab some food. I, along with about 8 others, was shuttled into the holding room where we were introduced to the producers, given breakfast and then the rundown of how everything worked. We met with a publicist, a lawyer, the makeup lady, and countless others and then were taken down to the set to do a run through. We were taught where to look, where to stand, and how to read the cues of the host, the lovely Meredith Vieira. We got to take a few pictures and then we were ushered back up into the holding room where we stayed for the remainder of the day…until we got the call.
The holding room was…sorry to say, boring. We were kept in a single room without TV, phones, books, newspapers or anything. We did get to watch a couple previously taped episodes of Millionaire, played a Charades type of game, chatted, got to know everyone’s Millionaire story and had lunch. Everyone was nervous and excited though, and it was nice to be able to share in the thrill of anticipation with people in the same boat. Every once in awhile a call would come and another contestant would leave for their shot at the million. We never knew how they did though because we were not allowed in the halls as the contestants returned. I am just now finding out how my companions did as their episodes are airing. It’s quite a surreal situation if you think about it. I did make one friend in the room that I still keep in touch with. We have been exchanging emails and discussing how the people in our group have done (and of course, what a crazy experience this whole thing has been). Her episode aired in April and she is now the proud owner of $25,000 – Woo-Hoo!
At the very end of the day, around 4:00pm, it was my turn. Meredith was so nice and the audience was great and everything was over in the blink of an eye. (*you’ll have to wait until the shows airs for more details!) It was an amazing experience.
That was over 6 months ago and my episode is just now airing this THURSDAY, May the 9th. I am nervous, and excited, and anxious. I am worried I will disappoint people’s expectations and I will look gross and act foolish, etc….you know all that irrational ego stuff that is all self inflicted and probably not real; but it’s giving me a knot in my stomach regardless. At the end of the day I can simply say this, I got to go on a game show and it was a lot of fun. And I know I am going to impress at least one person, my son, who watches the show with me everyday…and that is something I’ll always be proud of.
Tune in to Who Wants To Be A Millionaire on Thursday, May 9th to watch me go for the million. You can check your local listings for the time here. You can also see a video preview for this week’s episodes, featuring myself and my handsome husband, on YouTube here.