Friday, September 05, 2008

So Who Wants to Be a Millionaire Anyway? - Part II

Below is a chronicle of my recent attempt to be a contestant on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire during the show's Walk In and Win! promotion. If you haven't read Part I yet, you might want to scroll down and do so before reading this entry.

9:45 am We've been ushered into a back room in the building that contains the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire - Play It! attraction. Here we line up to receive a package of legal papers to sign, get our picture taken, hand in our application, and go through a brief interview conducted by a producer.
I try to smile sincerely for my photo, making an effort to look happy and interesting instead of bored and tired. The photographer hands me the Polaroid. Wait, who's this balding fat guy in the picture? Oh God, it's me.

9:50 am I close my suit jacket more around my body and then look at my photo. For some reason, this trick doesn't make my image look any thinner.
I finally get to my brief interview with one of the producers. "So," he asks, looking at my application, "You're a 'reports specialist'. What's that?"
I try to explain and wind up boring myself in the process. I have no chance of getting to the Hot Seat.

10:00 am Since going through the line, I've been sitting on this folding chair which is slightly more comfortable, I imagine, than sitting on a rabid porcupine. We've all been told where to sit. We've also been told that we may not get up to use the bathroom. Basically, they're treating us with all the dignity one would give a first-grader.
Finally, one of the producers stands up before the audience to speak to us about the day's activities. He's got that trendy, I'm-looking-disheveled-on-purpose-because-I'm-a-cool-young-guy-look going on, complete with the bed-head hairdo. I wish I had enough hair left so that I could choose not to comb it like that.

10:45 am Young Unkempt Guy was followed by a couple of other crew members who basically re-iterated what he said. The last speaker is a cute young brunette who is evidently unaware she is holding a microphone. I've heard civil defense alarms that aren't as loud as she is. She is also the most condescending of all the speakers. She informs us that when we are allowed to use the restroom, we will be escorted out in small groups. Kindergarten all over again.
The whole time these people are speaking, all I can think of is calling my wife and using the bathroom (though not at the same time). I am anxious to find out what her plans are. Finally, we're allowed a couple of minutes to use cell phones if we have them. Unfortunately, no one's phones are working in the building, and they won't let us walk outside.
A lady loans me her phone to use. I am able to connect with my wife, but there's too much static. All I hear is, "Zzzkt! I zzzkt try zzzkt zzkt bus."
"No!" I yell into the phone. My wife, though young, isn't in the best of health, and it would take at least an hour and a half by bus to get from our house to the theme park. "Don't take the bus!" I yell. It's too late. The connection is dead and Loud Girl is telling us to sit down.

11:30 am For the last half-hour or so we've been subjected to the droning on of the show's attorney, who is wearing a necktie with a knot roughly the same size as his head. The first part of his speech deals with game strategy ("Don't choose answer 'D' on the first question"). Legal issues and instructions are the topics of the second part of his speech, which is almost more interesting than watching paint dry. The situation is made worse by certain, let's call them intelligence challenged, individuals in the crowd who insist on either asking him dumb questions or telling him lawyer jokes. Why are stupid people always the loudest?
The whole time all I can think about is my wife and how I hope she doesn't take the bus.

11:55 am Finally, I am escorted with a small group of other possible contestants outside to an area with both restrooms and payphones. When I get a hold of my wife, she tells me she went to the bus stop, but the one bus going to MGM has already left for the day. She starts to cry because she thinks she let me down. What a trooper. I assure her she hasn't let me down, and that I am in fact relieved that she didn't catch the bus. I won't have anyone in the audience, but it'll be ok.
From this point on, we are not allowed to contact anyone "on the outside" for the rest of the day. They tell us we are in "game show contestant isolation".

12:00 noon My group is back in the studio building where all the other potential contestants are eating lunch. I've been looking forward to this - I haven't had anything to eat all day. When my group gets to the lunch table, however, all of the bagged lunches are gone! It turns out some of the other contestants must have eaten more than one lunch - I bet they're the same contestants who were asking the lawyer dumb questions. It's ok though, one of the producers went to where the staff was eating and got some of their catered food for us. Their food is better anyway.

12:15 pm I sit down next to someone I'll call "Jim". "Jim" starts to talk to me and doesn't stop for another 45 minutes. I am amazed at his lung capacity. Still, our conversation is the most interesting thing to happen to me today. He tells me I'm easy to talk to. I think it's because I'm good at pretending to listen. He's a nice guy. We hit it off pretty well.

1:15 pm We are finally in the studio getting ready to tape... I hope.

Up next - So Who Wants to be a Millionaire Anyway? Part III

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