It’s Friday, everybody! And neither heat, nor humidity, nor the gloom of villainous scrap copper thieves can prevent this blogger from his appointed rounds of retelling my exciting story of appearing on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire back in 2001! Yes, it’s time for another thrilling installment in the longest running series on WordPress (or maybe it just seems like that). Last week, we left you with the bad taste of mystery meat in your mouth…. and today, we’re going to dive right in to the fascinating contestant meeting that was held the evening of my arrival! Time to meet the competition I’ll be up against and wish them all good luck!
6:00 PM, Wednesday January 17, 2001.
The hour of the meeting for the ten “finalists” for the first of the two shows taping tomorrow has come. We are to converge on the top floor suite of the one and only Susan Viscera, the show’s contestant coordinator, for a briefing on how our day tomorrow will go. We also have to bring the two outfits we plan on wearing on air so that they can be inspected to pass the all important “your shirt won’t fuck up the TV picture” test. Stripes and other busy patterns will turn television screens across the country into primetime acid trips due to the illusion of movement they create when filmed. It’s kind of the small screen version of the disc jockey’s plea to turn your radio down when they have you live on the air.
I hop in the hopefully safe elevator and make my way up to the 12th floor. There is the suite not far outside the doors. Some dude name Paul is there to greet me. It turns out, he is Susan Viscera’s
poolboy assistant, and he’s covering for her since she’s out of town… probably in a climate with much better weather and a city with much better food. He leads me in to the suite, which looks ten times better than my dumpy room I have to stay in. I can see where the contestants rate now compared to the show’s staff. I go have a seat on one of the couches and begin scoping out my challengers.
There were ten contestants picked for each show, and I was the seventh one to show up at Paul’s door. Of the other six, there were four males and two females. None of the others struck me as a “glamour” pick, so that explained how my
ugly ass rather plain looks still got me a ticket to New York. There must have been something about these people that appealed to the producers who chose them, but the only thing I noticed right away was that they were all older than me, most by at least 15-20 years. At 25, I was definitely the young punk of this little makeshift gang.
Contestant Number 8 walked in the door a few minutes later, rallying the girls a little closer to tying the score at 5-3. Paul closed the door and announced this was it, at least for now. The other two contestants had yet to check in. I would be lying if I didn’t get some inner joy at the possibility of slightly better odds…
Paul warmly welcomes us to New York, though as you’ve seen the past few weeks, he’s about five hours too late for that nicety on my part. He’s going to go over everything we need to know about our fun little trip to ABC’s studio tomorrow, but first, to gain our trust, he passes out the goodies! First, the ubiquitous souvenir for any occasion, the lousy T-shirt! Yes, I still have it… here’s the front:
And here it is flipped over to see the
awesome lettering on the back…
And what passing out of freebies would be complete without letting loose with a few portraits of dead Presidents?
All contestants enjoying New York on the dime of the ABC Network were given a $50 per diem to cover expenses for their stay. Since we were going to be there three days, that’s $150 of Regis’ money I was going to get to spend. Woohoo! I haven’t even gotten to play yet, and I’ve already won more money than many past game show contestants who only got a kiss on the cheek from the host and a crappy version of the home game!
We were each handed three fifty dollar bills so crisp that they had to have just come hot off the press they used to put Regis’ picture on them. And of course, we had to sign for the money so that Uncle Sam could properly be notified of these “winnings” we would be using to survive the sticker shock prevalent in The Big Apple.
After Paul got done making it rain, he next launched into a speech about what we should bring with us to the studio tomorrow… or more accurately, what we SHOULDN’T bring with us to the studio tomorrow. A lot of it was common sense stuff like Cliff’s Notes for cheating, or weapons in case we felt like eliminating the competition the old fashioned way. This no-no list also included just about every electronic device ever invented…. which, since we’re talking about 2001 here, shouldn’t be too much of an inconvenience for anyone.
One of the things we were required to bring with us was a list of our five people we planned to put on phone a friend duty during the taping. Oh, a hand has gone up… it’s Bobby Concepcion, who came to Manhattan all the way from the far off borough of Brooklyn to play Millionaire. He presented Paul with a dilemma that the beleaguered assistant coordinator admitted had never been encountered before in the show’s entire history up to that point….
He didn’t have a single phone a friend.
Bobby had managed to rook someone into coming along with him to be his official traveling companion on the long
subway limo ride, but he couldn’t find anyone with a phone who might be financially interested in helping him make a life changing amount of money? Contestants had played with short PaF lists before, but you can’t use that all important lifeline if you don’t have someone available to call who cares. Honestly, I have no idea how the show handled this problem… maybe they just set him up with a random phone booth out on the street…
Rubbing my hands even more evilly at how the competition is looking even lighter than I could have imagined, Paul next inspected our outfits, of which we needed to have two since whoever was in the Hot Seat at the end of our taping would carry over onto the next show… which would tape immediately after the first one ended, but had to look like a brand new day for everyone in TV land. The brown and some other ugly color striped shirt monster my Mom had picked out since I’m also a fussy shopper was rejected with extreme prejudice by Paul, which was excellent news as far as I was concerned. I didn’t want to wear it anyway. The green sweater that was more “me” got the thumbs up… and I mentioned to Paul I had several solid color collared shirts in reserve that could take the place of the hot striped mess if I should be so lucky as to make it a second day.
Towards the end of the fashion inspection, the phone in the suite rang. Yep, it’s Contestant #9. The odds just got a little slimmer… but that’s OK, because we could really be going for some big bucks!
After crowning six millionaires in the first seven months of WWTBAM’s wildly successful existence, the show hit a very large dry spell after David Goodman took home that sixth top prize on July 11, 2000. So to sweeten the pot, beginning with the shows aired in January 2001, they added a bonus jackpot to the top prize equal to $10,000 times the number of shows without a million dollar winner since Goodman’s appearance. Naturally, the question was asked during the meeting whether that jackpot was still intact or not.
Paul told us that yes, it was still in play, and we’d be the 86th show since Goodman… so assuming nobody from the current day’s taping had managed to walk away with the top prize, we were going to be playing for not $1,000,000 dollars…. but $1,860,000!
With one million, eight hundred and sixty thousand dollar signs in my mind, we did get one last detail before the meeting adjourned… the show we would be taping was going to air on January 31st, which was a Wednesday. Since that coincided with my weekend, I could watch the show and not have to worry about calling off that night if I should happen to strike it rich…
After we were dismissed, I rode the elevator back down with five of my newfound rivals. Each one of us pushed a different numbered floor button, which meant the show had likely put us all on separate floors, which I thought was real cute. No sooner had I walked back into
good old Room 607 when the phone rang. It was Paul.
I had left my contestant T-shirt on the couch.
Already, the nerves were getting to me. So much for trumping up my chances of doing well in my mind….
And so much for this week’s installment of my Millionaire Saga. I’ll see you again next Friday, hopefully from slightly cooler environs….
I feel sorry for Bobby, that must be horrible if you have not one soul you could call. But maybe that would be a good question: who’s the one you would call in such a case ( I know a lot of people but I’m not sure if I really would call one of them :o). It’s great that you still have the t-shirt, my mom has a bathing suit from a beauty contest too, even when that event was shortly after the humanity left the trees :o)
LOL! Is it made out of fig leaves? 😉
nearly … it’s as ugly as the butt of a baboon, a typical horridness of the 80s :o)
Tonya’s skating outfit makes it look like she is a He-Man figure with the flesh-colored material.
Which Legion of Doom character best represents you in this scenario?
I’d probably have to be The Riddler… the one who served no useful purpose other than to be a smartass!
1. Sorry about getting Major League into your head. (I’m not really sorry)
2. Going for some extra page hits by using the Hamburglar again?
3. Why am I surprised in any way that there was a People’s Court board game.
I think your site siphons off all of the Hamburglar searches… I think I had a few after I did the McDonaldland post last year, but that was it. Might as well keep trying, though…
I actually got that People’s Court board game for Christmas one year. Even at that tender age, I was like, WTF? Did they need more money to retain Rusty the Bailiff?
That must have been the merriest Christmas ever.
It ranks right up there with the year I got Mr. Mouth…
This has been such a fun series but you’re killing me with the suspense. I want to find out what happens but at the same time I don’t want it to end!
In the skating world we call Tanya Harding’s outfit “an unfortunate dress.” OK we’ll also call it an UGLY Halloween dress or a SLUT dress and then shake our heads and wonder why in God’s name the coach let that skater go out dressed like that – but not in earshot of the skater (that would be rude.) Also, even after all this time, psycho skaters are called “Tanya Harding”.
I’m trying my best to get to the good parts…. but I’m finding out as I write this that there were so many good parts to almost every moment in this story! I was sure when I started this that it might take two months to tell at the most…. next week will mark three whole months, and I still won’t be at the taping itself!!! As long as I can make each segment entertaining, I think I can quell the natural impatience for really fun part! 🙂
Tonya’s dress is so comically bad. Trashy can look appealing if done right, but it looks like she let her goons pick out that unflattering outfit for her. I like Sheena’s description of it looking like a He-Man costume!
Sheena’s description made me laugh!
This took a lot of imagination, ES!! You are definitely talented in crazy thoughts put into action! I would watch this show! I think that Clint Eastwood is a very fine director, you may need to present this to him… smiles, Robin
I could totally see Clint Eastwood directing a movie based on my story! I just hope he wouldn’t spend too much time talking to the Hot Seat! 😉
After I stopped laughing, I started thinking (you had just mentioned weapons) that a Texas version of this show could drive the ratings sky high as contestants kill each other right on the air. They could bring their OWN weapons, too. I think I could sell the idea to one or more networks. What could be a better reality show than on-the-air senseless (as opposed to sensible) violence?
That would be cool, especially if the participants were all typical reality show fodder (read: young, pretty, perky, and out of work).
Oh I am getting nervous now! Ody is a great fan/sport/barracker! 🙂
Let me handle the nerves! Trust me, I had enough nervous energy for everybody and their brother!
I want a t-shirt that has CONTESTANT on the back of it. Of this, I am jealous. Of course, thinking on it here, a t-shirt with WINNER on it might be better. Do hope that is where the story is going.
Well, we shall see! Hopefully I can get there by the end of the year! 😉
A game show T-shirt with the word LOSER on it might be an interesting gag gift as well…
Good try getting rid of the t-shirt, but Paul was on the ball!
I feel a bit sorry for Bobby No-Friends 😦
I’m not sure I feel very sorry for him… I think his problem wasn’t being friendless, but being lazy. I’m a loner, and I came up with a list! Then again, would it really matter for either of us……?
We’ll find out soon I expect! Or soonish.
I am weeping in sadness for Bobby. Not even somebody with a sympathetic guard at Riker’s cell block 2? His kindergarten teacher? The girl he tipped a nickel for a coke at the counter at the corner diner? Poor guy. And your cat would have been so sad if you did not get that contestant T back, ESN.
Bobby’s case was so baffling. I am one of the most anti-social people out there, and I still rounded up five warm bodies (Some of them even smart!).
I would have been heartbroken had I forgotten the T-shirt… even though I have never worn it, it’s one of the few physical souvenirs of my adventure to prove it really happened! A lot of the newbies at work who hear about it from some of the old timers don’t believe I was really on a game show…
It brings to mind the old saying, of which there is actually at T-shirt:
Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.
Yes, you have the proof, ESN, plus the big bank account from the winnings, and the pictures in the scrapbook with Regis. I’m waiting for that final chapter. I can’t wait to read about you winning something!
All I will say at this point is that the game show climax will not be the final chapter since I did have another day in NYC to kill. I do hope everyone continues to read the rest of the saga even after the game show chapters have come and gone!
Yes. I am a fish on your hook, my friend.
I’m amazed at how long your saga is going to be! I look forward to next week’s entry. I don’t blame you for “forgetting” the t-shirt. How rude of them to call you to fetch it!
LOL! I’m just glad I didn’t leave the $150 behind in the cushions!
Yeah, that wouldn’t have been good.
Pardon me – sniff sniff – no friend Bobby? aaww man – tell that dude to call me. Oops, that’s right. I wasn’t born then. This weekly account is killing me with anticipation my friend – I love it! XOXO – Bacon
If I were to ever get invited back, I would definitely let you be the first ever Phone a Pig! What are your areas of expertise?
Snorts – well you know I often surf the net looking for useless bits of information. I have a vast array of knowledge on anything animals and nature. Tell your people to call my people 🙂 XOXO – Bacon