Saturday, July 13, 2013

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Maybe Me

I recently wrote about my audition for "Wheel of Fortune."  Well, it just so happens I had a chance to audition for "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" this week as well. 

They had three sessions, two for general trivia and one for Movie Week, which focused just on movie trivia.  Had I known I could do both the general trivia and the Movie Week sessions, I would have because it could have increased my chances, although I'm not sure I would have done as well on the general trivia test.  I'm pretty smart, but the last time I tried out for "Millionaire," I did not pass the test.

It's funny, I have a friend who's been trying to get on "Millionaire" for some time now.  He finally made it into the pool of possible contestants, who are eligible to be picked for two seasons of the show.  He still hasn't been picked, and only has one more season to go.  He's kind of fanatical about it, and I think it's amusing.

I tried out for Movie Week on a whim.  I'm really good at movie trivia, I like games, and if by chance I made it on to the show, I could certainly use any money I might win.  I've got student loans to finish paying off; I could use another car; and Jonah's mom could use some financial help right now.  My own mom could, too, but since we sold the house, that doesn't seem as pressing anymore.

The original "Millionaire" notice told people to come to one of the general trivia sessions and that those who passed the test would be allowed to take the Movie Week test.  But when I got there, they let anyone interested in taking the movie trivia test line up for that session.  They told us we could take the general trivia test as well, but that if we did, we would lose our place in line for the movie trivia test, and that they were only seeing a certain number of people for that test.

I decided to stay in the movie trivia line because I felt I would do better on the test.  As it turns out, there were not as many people as one might have thought, so I could have taken both.  Oh, well.

I was actually really amazed at the sorts of people who attended this audition.  Whereas "Wheel of Fortune" seemed like a lighter, happier crowd, I was shocked at the air of desperation emanating from many in the "Millionaire" crowd.  I met a number of people who weren't there to have fun; they just wanted that money.  Producers can smell that, I think, so I don't think that attitude is doing anybody any favors.

I met one lady who was super defensive and kind of grumpy, and I thought to myself, "Even if she passes the test, that isn't the kind of energy I would imagine producers are looking for."  Another lady came late, missing the general trivia session, and there was only movie trivia left.  I don't think I saw her smile once.  Why bother coming?  Another man was really rude.  When the facilitator of the audition asked if people had any questions, he brusquely snarled, "Yeah, can we get started?!"  "You're not making a good first impression, sir," I thought to myself.

I was also amazed at the lack of preparation of many of the people who attended.  Lots of latecomers who missed the audition altogether.  One man lamented, "Are you doing this tomorrow?" 

No sir, they're not.

One guy came in right as we were about to start the test, and yelled across the room, "I'm here to win a million dollars!!  I just won $40.00, and now I just need $999,960."  He strolled across the room at a leisurely pace until the facilitator said, "Sir, we're waiting on you."

I had the pleasure of sitting next to a very nice lady.  This was her fifth time auditioning for "Millionaire."  (It was my third time.)  Both of us knew the ropes and came prepared.  We spent our two hours waiting getting to know each other (turns out she has a gay son), joking, commenting on our fellow auditioners, and making small talk.

What I realize about game show auditions is they really aren't all that different from theatre auditions.  You can't just be good at the game; you also have to project enthusiasm, energy, and a positive attitude without trying too hard or coming across as desperate.  And the fact is, if you aren't what the producers happen to be looking for, no matter how good you are at the game, you might not make the cut.

I don't think a lot of these people even realized they're being watched even before they take the test or meet with the producers.  And if you come in with a bad attitude, why bother coming?

I was just there to have fun.  Winning any amount of money would just be icing on the cake.  But the fact is, it's very competitive and it's hard to get on.  Why not just have a good time?

As for the test, I did really well.  There were 30 questions, and I was quite certain I got the right answer on at least 24 of them, and I felt like I made good educated guesses on the other six.  They're not allowed to tell us what the passing score is, but I was feeling confident that I would pass.  I also took my test number [27] as a good sign because that number has special significance for me.

There were probably 150 of us there.  About 20 of us passed the test.  I was one of them.

I had to fill out an application and I met with a producer in what almost felt like a job interview.  I felt I did well.  I thought I was funny, interesting, and engaging.  The producer said they would let me know in two weeks whether I've made the two season pool of possible contestants.  Who knows what will happen?  I know it's competitive.  They have many sessions in many cities, and Movie Week is just five episodes in one season.  It's a long shot, and I know that. 

The important thing is that I had fun.  Oh, and my friend who is the "Millionaire" fanatic.  He was at the same session and didn't pass the test.  He told me if I get on before he does, he will scream like a banshee.  I told him, "And I will laugh, laugh, laugh."  We carpool to work together, so his response was "and you will drive us every day in your brand new car."

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