Monday, September 26, 2011

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire - The Audition

I will be appearing on tomorrow's (September 27th, 2011) original episode of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire".
In Chicago, the show airs at 4pm - followed by a repeat episode at 4:30.
This is the story of how I came to be on WWTBAM.

At some point in June or July, I heard that there was going to be an audition call for the game show "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" at the Arlington Part Race Track. I probably heard it on WGN-TV and it was probably reported by Dean Richards. Not sure exactly since I don't watch much local news anymore. Still, I knew that I had the day off on Friday, July 15th, so I decided to try and make the auditions. I do remember auditioning for the show once was either before or during the show's first season in syndication and I didn't get past the first round.

On July 15th, They were going to start taking people at 7am, so I decided it was best to show up very early - 6am when the website said they would allow people to form a line. On Thursday night I set my alarm clock for 5:15 and on Friday morning I got up around 5:45.

Damn! I was late! ...well...later than I wanted to be. Laying in bed, very groggy, I thought about it and decided that sleep would be better. Then I realized I'd kick myself if I didn't go. So I got up, took a quick shower and was out of the house a little past 5. Traffic was better than expected and I got to Arlington Park by 6:45am and stood at the end of a very long line.

Facebook / Twitter posts

- Feeling foolish, standing in a very loooong line next to a horseracing track. - July 15 at 6:51am
- Worst part of standing on line - having to listen to inane people who won't shut up. For even a minute. Where's my gun? - July 15 at 7:23am
- Intimidated. Guy in front of me obviously knows he is the smartest person in the room. Also funniest. Also has gas. - July 15 at 7:39am
- Going to be in 2nd group testing for here at 6:30...will get into the test at 8:30. Sweet. - July 15 at 7:45am

While in line, we were told that they could take about 390 people at a time. Group one was at 7:30, they would have 2 more morning groups then after lunch one more group. Even though the line was long, it apparently wasn't THAT long and by 7:45, I was inside the facility. The line passed by WGN's Ana Belaval, who had set up with a cameraman to interview people in line for the WGN Morning Zoo show. I had decided that if she picked me to talk with, I would ask her if she was from Puerto Rico because when she started at WGN in 2005 (and I was still watching their Morning Show), she seemed to include that tidbit in shot she did(!) Luckily, my spot in line flew past her.

Meanwhile, I had to put up with an assortment of annoying people around me as I stood in line. There was the guy who knew everything and treated the audition as a formality. And I'm pretty sure he had gas. There were also the women who didn't know each other before getting in line, yet they became fast friends. I theorized that they became friends so quickly because none of them seemed to ever stop talking and their volume level was generally at 11. Lucky for me that when we got inside the building, they decided to stop singing TV show theme songs off-key and with incorrect lyrics.

At about 9:00, the line started moving. We went up 2 levels to an open area where chairs were set up. We all got a Millionaire T-Shirt and a Millionaire pencil. Yay! It was there where we all took a 30-question multiple-choice test. We had 10 minutes to finish. The guy who knew everything was sitting next to me, and he finished in 8 minutes. I finished in 9 minutes, amazed that the last question was something I did not know until I heard it earlier that week - What is Katy Perry's real name (
Kate Hudson). We turned in the ScanTron tests and waited to see if our number would be called to advance to the next round.

As the Associate Producers were grading the tests in the back, people around me started talking about some of the questions. I immediately figured out that I had missed at least 3 questions. Surely I did not score high enough. Minutes later, they started calling out numbers and mine was the third one called. Wow. I think there was about 25-30 people selected, and the rest were sent home. I accurately figured that once we passed the test, it was all about personality and enthusiasm. Sure enough, I sat down with an Associate Producer who looked over the questionnaire we filled out and asked me about myself.

"So, tell me about your job as an Account Service Rep," she said. No way was that interesting, so I steered her away. "I work for a media research company, basically training people on software and troubleshooting problems," I replied. "My job's not too exciting, but my songwriting hobby keeps me sane." "What kind of songs do you write," she asked - not knowing she fell into my cunning trap. "I am known for catchy tongue-in-cheek songs. I have one song called 'I Wish My Girlfriend Was As Dirty As My Car' and another called 'I Accidentally Wrote A Country Song'." At that point, she laughed and emphatically wrote something on my application, told me to sit on the side until another Producer called me. As I did, I noticed that about half did not get told to sit on the side and wait - instead told they'd be contacted if they were on the show and sent home. The guy who knew everything bid me adieu as he left.

Facebook post

- Holy crap...passed the test...passed the interview. Waiting for an on-camera interview! - July 15 at 10:19am

The next short interview was with the show's Supervising Producer (Did not know his role until I saw him again on taping day). He has a home video camera set up on a tripod and asked a few personal questions. "Personality!" I kept thinking. I smiled and was animated and tried again to steer the conversation to music. He seemed to like me and told me to sit in a chair for the next interview. Once again, I saw people leave who he was weeding out.

Facebook / Twitter post

- Holy crap...interview #2 @MillionaireTV !!!! #GiantButterflies - July 15 at 10:28am

Next interview is the final interview - in a room with a professional camera set up and an interviewer asking questions. They told me they were taping it for the Producers in New York to evaluate, but I think this one was to tell how photogenic I am because I was a complete idiot.

Facebook / Twitter post

- Oh no, the butterflies in my stomach are vomiting!!!!! @MillionaireTV - July 15 at 11:05am

I stayed around to film some stuff for promos, then they told me and 6 others that we could leave and we would get a card in the mail within 2 weeks telling us if we were to be in the contestant pool. If we were in the pool, then we would be in the pool for 2 years but with no guarantee we'd be on the show - and there was a chance we would not be contacted.

Facebook / Twitter posts

- Arlington Park playing "Let the day begin" by The Call when they open the doors. Very cool! - July 15 at 11:17am
- Okay...made it thru the Millionaire auditions. Within the next 2 weeks I will find out if I am in the contestant pool or not. Fingers X'd!!!!! - July 15 at 11:40am

On July 24th, I got
THIS postcard that said I was in the contestant pool. Very cool.

Facebook / Twitter posts

- I made it into the "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" contestant pool! Giggidy-Giggidy-Giggidy-Goo! - July 25
- If I appear on "Millionaire", instead of the "Jump The Question" lifeline I'll lick my lips then tell Meredith I want to "Jump The Host". - July 29 at 4:55pm

The call came on August 9th:

Facebook post

- Wow, that was quick! I just got the call.
Have to be in New York City on August 30th for the taping.
I'M GONNA BE ON "WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE"!!!! - August 9 at 5:54pm

..and just like that - less than 1 month after the audition - I made plans to travel to New York City (they don't fly you in or put you up - you have to pay for all that yourself) for an August 30th taping of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire"!