Moving right along in my fascinating journey to the game show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire a thousand years ago…. oh wait, you don’t know what I’m talking about? Here’s a link to the most recent edition of the story, and you can knock yourself out backtracking all the way to the first installment if you wish. Go ahead and read it all again… it’s absolutely spellbinding!
We left off with a tension filled moment at the audition where it looked like I didn’t pass the test… only I totally did. The 47 people who made the grade got to stick around to see the second half of this exciting audition…. the others were all asked to
GTFO please leave and have a wonderful day. Among this latter group were The Weather Girls who were flanking me on either side. They both congratulated me on passing before I left, and it brought a rare moment of compassion from this squirrel in feeling bad that neither of them survived the first cut.
We got a thirty minute break before they would begin calling us back for live, videotaped interviews. I was able to give my Dad the good news that he’d have to hang out in the hotel lobby even longer now. At least he had gotten some sleep the night before… I was on about 18 hours without it, and it was starting to wear at me…
One of the interesting things about internet communities is that you get to know people you have never met before… until you actually do. There were a few people from my message board who were also at that audition, and one of them managed to find me by asking for me out loud by the initials of my board handle, LB. He had flown all the way up from Houston for the audition… a passion for trying to get on a game show that I simply can not grasp. It was kinda cool meeting someone from the board for the first time ever…. though no sooner had we confirmed each others identity that Sonny barged in and proceeded to call out the first group of five to be interviewed…
My Houston buddy’s number was in the first set, so that was all I got to see of him. The wait was on…
Those of us who remained behind kept ourselves entertained with conversation while the group was slowly called back in quintets. The tension could be cut with a plastic spork each time the bushy haired one came back in the room to announce a fresh set of numbers. I watched as the herd of passers thinned from 47 to 42, to 37, to 32, to 27, to 22, to 17, to 12, to….. seven. Geez Louise, I’m about to take a nap on one of these rows of empty chairs here!
When it got down to just us remaining magnificent seven, Sonny invited us to linger out in the hallway where we had registered, since it was stupid to have us running amok in such a large room with dangerous metal folding chairs. With just seven left, they decided to break the final two groups up into a foursome and a threesome. The foursome was called first… guess which group I was in?
And so nearly an hour and a half after the first group had been called in and dismissed, there I stood still waiting for my chance along with two other fellow passers and of course, Sonny. He and the younger one of our group began having a lively conversation, the contents of which I was far too zonked out by this point to even retain the details of. I have a habit of pacing in any kind of a waiting situation, and did just that. At least the older guy in my group did the same, so I didn’t seem like the only nutcase.
After what literally seemed like a week, the stage was finally set for the final three of us to get our much anticipated interviews. We were led into the room where a different set of associate producers we had not seen before were conducting these nefarious personality quizzes. As the three of us made it in front of the table where the chairs for us had been set up, I managed to dust the cobwebs off of my reflexes and spring into action to grab the middle seat before either of the other two could sit down…
Yes, I had just turned this video interview into a children’s game of musical chairs. Why was I so intent on grabbing the middle seat? It’s very simple… since I absolutely HATE to be the first to have to do anything involving the spotlight being on me, I knew that unless these game show judges were cruel and unusual, there was almost zero chance of me having to be the first one to speak up and say anything.
And I was right! The interview started with the talkative youngster on my right.
Jason Key was in his early-mid 20’s, and came all the way up to St. Louis from Dallas, where he worked on a radio talk show. Besides his obvious extrovert personality and demographically pleasing age, he also had what in showbusiness is known as a “hook”… an interesting story that would make a great talking point on the show. A few years back, he and several of his friends attended a taping of The Gordon Elliott Show, and managed to interact with the host to get on the air. It would be easy to say Gordon Who? these days, but back in 2000, his daytime talk show that ran from 1994-97 was still on the tips of our pop culture minds.
Jason seemed about as much of a shoo in to be chosen for the show as there ever was. But what about the older gentleman on my left? Certainly he has nothing to bring to the table as interesting as what Jason had…
I have no idea what the real name of the older guy on my left was, but he bore a resemblance to Paul White, who was a writer for Baseball Weekly, and that’s the name I always associate with him. Anyway, it turns out Paul was once one of the bachelors on The Dating Game during its late 70’s run in syndication! How ironic that he once again finds himself sitting with two other guys getting asked all kinds of stupid questions. What amazing luck that boring old me got lumped together with two guys who had already been on TV before…
So the first question I get asked is what do I like to do for fun?
Well… um… I like to go to baseball games.
Oh, that’s nice! Have you ever caught a homerun ball?
Um….. no (though I did manage to snag one four years later)
You must be a Cardinals fan! Do you like Mark McGwire?
You can see just how well things are going for me, the wet blanket. That’s when one of the inquisitors spotted my meteorology degree on the profile forms we had to fill out….
I see you’ve taken weather classes! Could you do a forecast for us!?!?
It agitates me to no end when people assume meteorology = TV weatherman. Most on air forecasters don’t know their dewpoint from a dropsonde. It certainly wasn’t the career path I was interested in should my meteorology training actually blossom into a paying career, but if that’s what these overly peppy Prozac and Starbucks chugging associate producers want, then fine… I’ll give them a damn forecast! Functioning on over 20 hours now since my last nap, I was more than loosened up to do something crazy… and like a drunk on the day after, I have no idea what in the hell that was… but it drew a good laugh from them.
And as I would find out two months later….. it was that impromptu forecast that wound up being my golden ticket.
The dreaded interview came to a close, and the grueling audition is finally over! It’s time for my tired ass to go home and get some sleep. We’ll find out how I officially did during the callback period that would come in 5 weeks…. or, for
you all y’all out there reading this enthralling rubbish saga…. next week, my friends!