You’ve counted down the days like a traveler with a full bladder passing mile markers to the next rest stop, knowing that Friday was so close, yet so far away. And why? Because Friday means it’s time for the next installment in my Millionaire saga! Oh yeah, the weekend’s all downhill from here. If you’ve been slacking on keeping up with my past editions, I’ll look the other way… just this once! Here’s the link to the previous episode. Now, don’t let it happen again, OK?
We left off with the audition finally in the rear view mirror. It only took me three posts to get through that nearly four hour ordeal… so how many more will it take me before we get to the truly exciting stuff?
Well, let me fill you in on the situation now. The audition you virtually attended with me over the last three Fridays was held on November 4th. The callbacks going out to those who would be chosen to appear on the show weren’t going to happen until the week of December 11th! That’s five weeks of downtime, all the while wondering if maybe there’s a baby possum’s chance in hell of me being one of the lucky ones.
But just what odds did I realistically stand? First, let’s figure it out from a purely theoretical standpoint… assuming everyone who made it to the audition interview had an equal chance…
First off, let me remind you of how the Millionaire staff was handling this audition series, which was actually rather unique in the show’s entire primetime and syndicated history. They were holding 21 auditions in 7 cities, with each audition admitting a maximum of 150 prospective contestants. That means a maximum of 3,150 people could have been in the pool of contestants.
They were using these auditions to exclusively fill a slate of 13 tapings they were going to do in January 2001. You may recall there were 10 finalists on each show competing for a chance to make it to the Hot Seat, so that’s 130 slots that are all going to passers from one of these 21 audition sessions. So right off the bat, we have these odds…
That’s pretty much 1 out of 25 people, which is much better odds than I ever stood with the show’s hallowed phone-in game. But that’s overly simplified, because of the fact that not all 3150 auditioners to get a slot actually attended… and well over half of the field didn’t even survive the written test. Only 47 made it out of the session I attended, and that was one of the highest number of passers reported on my message board for any of the 21 cattle calls. It was estimated that between 800 and 850 people actually made it to the interview all together. Let’s calculate those odds now…
Whoa!!! Now we’re talking better than a 1 in 7 shot at being called back just based on blind luck. Make no mistake, the odds were never better at making it to New York than they were for this little casting experiment the show was putting on. True, 6 people were going to be disappointed for every one who made it through… but compared to the gauntlet one normally had to run through to get on this, or really any other game show… this was truly a golden opportunity I had managed to somehow grab by the acorns.
And despite any lack of television presence and poise that may have been picked up on at the audition by the expert eyes of Sonny and his gang, I did have one other thing going my way that should have given me an even bigger edge…. I was so unlike their typical contestants.
I mentioned before that Millionaire’s phone game fed the show an almost nonstop run of middle aged, white, professional males.. a demographic which is not exactly the most desirable by the sponsors who pay good money to advertise their wares during commercial breaks so I can mock them every Tuesday. WWTBAM was absolutely looking to mix up the look and feel of the players who appeared in an attempt to appeal to the more impulsive spenders in the female, younger, and minority demographics.
And while I am not a minority or a female (even with my unicorn fetish), I was still only 25 when this was all going down, so I certainly fell into the precious 18-34 demographic. I was no doubt looked upon as someone who could lure those slacking Gen X’ers away from watching The Real World. And I’m sure it would help that I worked at very unprestigious Mecca, and not in some stupid cubicle pushing papers and cooking books.
And so… let’s get right to that wonderful week in mid December, shall we?
The callback window was from 8 AM to 5 PM Central, between Monday December 11th and Friday December 15th. They only made one attempt to contact the lucky ones, and had to get through to either the contestant or their answering machine on that first call… or they’d scratch that name and move on down the list. Given my workweek and need to get my rest in the afternoon, it was going to be impossible for me to make the whole vigil every day… but here’s where still living at home really helped out. With my Mom and three (of my four) sisters around, I could get my rest and still not miss out should the call arrive, right?
And Mother Nature was also threatening to throw a curveball my way….
A major winter storm was being predicted to strike sometime early in the week. Who knows what kind of havoc that might unleash on those all important telephone lines? It would sure suck to be snowed out of a shot at big money…
And so Monday came and went with neither snow nor good news. From the shouts of joy lighting up my message board, it appeared a good number of the callbacks were already made on that first day. Well, I didn’t really think it was actually gonna happen, right?
I didn’t even bother to stay up that late on Tuesday morning. I needed the sleep more than I needed the futile nonsleep I was getting waiting by a phone. I hit the sack at 10 AM, and maybe got an hour or so good old fashioned REM daysleep….
12:02 PM, Tuesday December 12, 2000.
My Mom had the gall to wake me up with her hysterics.
It was Brent was Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. He asked for me. He didn’t seem to mind that my Mom asked if this was Regis calling.
I was probably about as awake as I was during the last couple hours of that audition, but I did my best to scribble down all of the important information Brent had given me while imparting the good news that I had been one of their 130 selections.
I would be a part of the first of two tapings they were conducting on January 18th of the new year. It was so sudden that I didn’t even have time to really get excited until after the call.
I had beaten the audition!
As well as the snowstorm that dumped 10 inches on us Wednesday morning…
We’ve made it to the successful callback! Now there’s just one more background post to grind through before I board that plane for New York City! Until next week, my little critters!