Confession time - I have always wanted to go on a game show. Not the kind of game show where you scream and jump up and down and act like an idiot but the more dignified type of game show like Jeopardy! or Password or Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Not that I think I'm smart enough to ever go on Jeopardy! mind you but I use it as an example that I would rather try to use my brain rather than squeal and be all bubbly in order to win something. I don't do squealing or bubbly very well to be honest.
While we're on the whole confession thing, I should probably make mention of the fact that I took the written test for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? twice in the summer of 2005 and managed to fail it both times. To this day I cannot bear to hear Gwen Stefani singing Hollaback Girl and in particular the lyrics "b-a-n-a-n-a-s" as that's one of the questions I missed. I'd never heard the song before so how should I have known what sort of fruit she was spelling out?!? Ah well, I figured it was worth a try at least but obviously I wasn't smart enough to be a millionaire no matter how badly I might want to be one (though I do great on the show when I watch it on TV!).
At any rate, for some unknown reason I got it into my head a little while back that it might be fun to attend a taping of the show and - sigh - give the audition test another try. After all, it had been two years since I had embarrassed myself by being one of many who couldn't get past the written test to the interview to swimming in the contest pool so perhaps the third time would be charm. Plus, I'd get to be part of the studio audience and how cool would that be? If I couldn't sit in the hot seat myself, perhaps I could root on the person(s) who was? To that end, I ordered a ticket on-line a couple of weeks ago and planned a solo trip down to the Big Apple as I couldn't take Amanda (you have to be 18 or older) and couldn't think of anyone else who might want to make the trip (though in retrospect I should've asked Amy, I bet she would have loved to go!).
Thursday morning dawned and I set off down the turnpike still not sure whether I was going to drive all the way into the city or try to catch the train either in New Haven, Stratford, or Bridgeport. I was more or less playing it by ear as I just hadn't been able to make up my mind which would be a better way to go. I got a slightly later start than I wanted and, even though the roadway looks clear in that picture above, that's not at all what Interstate 95 through Connecticut normally looks like. Normally it looks like this -
and that's exactly what it looked like once I got further on down the road after I had already decided that there was no way I was going to catch the train on time in New Haven so I would have to see if I could get ahead of it and catch it in one of the other towns along the way. The traffic back-up between exits 15 and 13 that crawled along for three miles was the deciding factor that had me driving into Manhattan a little while later because it just seemed easier to deal with traffic and parking in one of the biggest cities in the world rather than run for a train. Well, that and I was enjoying the music on the CD player! How's that for an excuse to drive into Manhattan or all places?!
Waiting wasn't too bad as I had my iPod with me and also had the chance to talk to another lady who had been to see several tapings before. When I wasn't listening to my iPod or her, there were three guys standing in line behind me (cousins from Brooklyn) who talked non-stop, rather loudly, about their new PS3 and dropped more celebrity names than I had heard in a very long time. In addition, one of them, who looked like he couldn't have been more than 21, talked about being on Jeopardy! and how taking the audition test for this show was going to be a snap. I tried to tone them out as much as possible but because they were from Brooklyn they weren't real good at keeping the volume down and I kept having to crank up the volume on my iPod. New Yorkers, I tell ya!
Finally it was my turn to go through security and make my way to the studio which was a lot smaller in real life than it is on TV but still pretty darned cool! There it was - the famous hot seat ...
where lucky contestants get to sit across from Meredith Viera and work their way up to potential Big Bucks.
Sebastian, one of the crew members, seated me in a spot directly behind the Hot Seat in the second row up next to a group of seven people who, it turned out, were friends of one of the contestants who was going to be playing later on. How exciting! I had the chance to talk to them a little bit and find out that their friend Jim was quite the movie fanatic and, this being "Movie Week", they thought he had the chance to do really well. I told them that I hoped he won big as it would make my blog post that much more interesting!
Shortly after entering the studio and before the taping began, I was able to take a few pictures of the studio but I'm afraid that they're a little on the blurry side as no flash photography was allowed and I had to have the camera set on museum mode, which doesn't always guarantee the clearest picture unless you hold the camera really, really still. One of Jim's friend offered to take a picture of me and even though it's quite blurry at least it proves that I was actually there and not just making this up as I go along!
Next thing I knew Meredith Viera had entered (she's very, very pretty in person) and taken her seat along with the contestant who was still playing from the earlier tapings (they tape twice a day, two shows at a time). She was a nice lady from California and managed to get to $50,000 before calling it quits. I was excited to have known the right answer during the "Ask the Audience" lifeline and was even more surprised that I knew the right answer to the question that she opted out on, especially considering I don't know that much about movies! During the break before Jim took the Hot Seat, Paul came back out and asked if anyone had known the answer and when I raised my hand he asked me if I knew a lot about movies to which I replied, "virtually nothing!" but he didn't seem to believe me! But it's true, I know very little about movies! Oh well, $50,000 was nothing to sneeze at for the first contestant we saw and I was happy for her.
Next up was Jim from St. Louis and when his friends said that he knew movies, they weren't kidding - he really knew his movies! He breezed through most of the first questions without even batting an eye before asking the audience for help with a question that I had absolutely no clue about. Apparently not too many other people in the audience did either as the top two choices were only 39% and 44%. Jim then opted to use another lifeline, which was to ask the experts that they had lined up. After debating it, they gave him the answer that matched up with 44% of the audience which turned out to be the right answer. Lucky for Jim!
At one point, the camera was turned on the section where his seven friends were sitting (all of whom had gotten a quick make-up application during the break between shooting the end of the first show and the beginning of the second) and I'm pretty sure I could see myself sitting next to them in the monitors. Ew! Oh well, maybe they'll edit that part out before the air-date which won't be until March 12th and 13th but if not, I guess I'll make my national television debut by default of the fact that I was sitting next to the contestant's friends!
Jim played an excellent game and it was really easy to get excited for him and caught up in the show. He was confident and funny and darned smart when it came to movies and the time just absolutely flew by. By the time the game ended, Jim had wracked up an impressive quarter of a million dollars and that's where he stopped as he just wasn't positive about the $500,000 question. A smart move and his friends couldn't have been happier for him - neither could I and I didn't even know the man!
All in all, the taping was a lot of fun and I would love to go again sometime. I would really love to go as an actual contestant but alas and alack, when I took the audition test after the show with a lot of other audience members, I managed to fail the darned thing for the third time. Argh! Talk about frustrating! A couple of the studio people told me not to be discouraged, that most people have to take it over and over and over again (which is why the only limit to the amount of times you can take the test is once a day). I guess that should make me feel a little better but still ... it would have been a lot nicer to pass and at least get an interview to see if I could make it into that coveted contestant pool. Oh well ... maybe someday.
After calling Amanda and letting her know that her loser of a mother would be on her way home, I reversed directions and headed out of the city back to Connecticut in much worse traffic conditions than I had going in but that's typical for New York City at 6:30 in the evening.
I made it home around 9:30 which wasn't too bad and even though I'd failed that darned test once again, at least I had a good time and got a blog post out of the deal! Maybe one of these days I can have a post that says I passed ... one can only hope! Oh, and I also got a 3-month subscription to NetFlix along with everyone else in the audience being that it was "Movie Week" and they sponsor it. Pretty cool, eh?
Oh, I almost forgot - the three hotshots from Brooklyn who seemed to think that the audition test was going to be a piece of cake ALL failed, too, so I didn't feel so bad when they were walking out the door talking about what a joke it was and blah, blah, blah. For someone who had supposedly been on Jeopardy! before, I guess he wasn't as smart as he thought either! I guess when it comes to getting on the show he can fogetaboutit, too!