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‘Millionaire’ Gets Refreshed

Aug 17, 2008  •  Post A Comment

The popular syndicated game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” is undergoing a format revamp for this fall.
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire
“Most successful game shows have changed and morphed their look over time, and I think we’ve gotten a little too comfortable over here as well,” said “Millionaire” executive producer Michael Davies. “This show was always designed to look slick, and the time was right to take our unique space and evolve it into something even more exciting.”
“Millionaire,” which continues to be one of the top three game shows in syndication as it enters its seventh season, is getting a number of tweaks, including new lifelines and graphics and a heightened tension level with the addition of a time limit for answers.
The show’s “hot seat” will feature a set amount of time in which contestants must give host Meredith Vieira a “final answer.” If the contestant fails to respond before the clock expires, he will have to walk away with his winnings without the chance to add more to the pot. However, any time not used on the first 14 questions can be banked for use on the $1 million question.
Fifteen seconds each will be allowed for the answers to the first five questions and 30 seconds for the next five, followed by 45 seconds for the next series of four. The contestant is allowed 45 seconds for the final question plus any banked time not previously used.
“Although the clock does add pressure to the contestants, that was not the intention of the move,” Mr. Davies said. “We wanted to build energy inside the show because the amount of time a contestant can take can often deflate the momentum the show has been building. This will now immediately make the show more contemporary and makes it easier for Meredith.”
Lifelines also were under the microscope. The 50/50 and “Switch the Question” lifelines will be dropped from the game. In their place will be two new aids for the contestant.
The first will be “Ask the Expert,” where the contestant will have access to experts on any question past the $1,000 level. “Millionaire” will aim to give access to famous newsmakers, journalists, former “Millionaire” contestants, trivia champs, politicians, doctors, professors, etc., via a live face-to-face video call. The call will be placed via Skype as part of a promotional deal.
Among the experts utilized will be Bill Nye (airing Sept. 8-12) and Ogi Ogas, a former “Millionaire” contestant from Boston who walked away with $500,000 in winnings (airing Sept. 15-19).
For the second aid, the show will bring back the “Double Dip,” in which contestants are allowed to take two guesses on any given question. “Double Dip” originally was utilized on ABC’s “Super Millionaire.”
“We really took a good look at the lifelines we already had and modernized them,” Mr. Davies said. “We quickly got rid of 50/50 as it was always the most unpopular lifeline on ‘Millionaire.’ Then we noted the ‘Switch the Question’ was not helping the contestants much. By replacing it with ‘Ask the Expert,’ we were able to create a truly effective lifeline that also looks very modern and different and cool.”
The new season also will update the graphics package of the series, including the “Millionaire Menu,” in which the categories of the contestant’s entire pyramid of 15 questions are revealed at the beginning of the game. Among the topics could be “Scary Movies,” “Presidential Posses,” “‘SNL’ Characters,” “In the News” and “Potter!” The “Millionaire Menu” will serve as an in-show tease for home viewers, providing them with a sneak peek at what’s coming up on the show.
The “Phone a Friend” lifeline graphics package also will be updated, providing photos, name and hometown for each of the contestant’s three potential lifeline friends.
“All of these add up to only a little change for the show, but they each add a dramatic impact to what viewers will see,” Mr. Davies said.
“‘Millionaire’ remains a classy show because of these additions,” he added, “and it really got good again. Already contestants have won more money through this point of our tapings than I can remember having before, and other countries airing the show already want to add these changes into their own versions as well.”
Josef Adalian contributed to this report.

26 Comments

  1. The real question here is will it be in HD?

  2. Another real question is how soon Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader? will adopt a similar game clock for its contestants.

  3. Millionaire will NEVER BE THE SAME AS WHEN REGIS IS HOSTING – HE BROUGHT HUMOR, WIT, SUSPENSE AND GENERAL FUN TO THE GAME. I WAS AN AVID VIEWER FOR THE REPLAYS AT THE 11:00 P.M. TIME, BUT ALL OF A SUDDEN – HERE’S MERIDITH HOSTING!!! WHAT A LET-DOWN! I’M REQUESTING YOU BRING REGIS BACK OR YOU’LL DEFINITELY LOSE A BUNCH OF NIGHT TIME VIEWERS!!!!! MERIDITH IS NO FUN, A SWEET LADY, BUT PLEASE – REGIS SHINES AS THE HOST, AND SHE’S JUST A BORING FILL-IN!!!!!

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