Part one of my 'Millionaire' experience aired last night (5/20), but my run in the hot seat continues at 7pm tonight (Friday, May 21st) on GSN. If you're just joining the blog, read the previous entry before this one to get the story in chronological order.
I stood up and shouted when my name blinked on the screen. Regis shook my hand and we got down to business. A producer called my phone friends and put them on stand by. There was time for three questions before the show ended and I got them right. Regis announced the next group of contestants and the lights dimmed. I was the new carry-over contestant at 300 dollars! The next show taped the following day as part of a two-show tape date.
I was blown away by my good fortune and a babbling idiot on the way back to the hotel. I barely remembered the first three questions they asked me. I went to my room and made calls. Producer Brent told me they weren't able to reach my fifth phone-friend, my wife, to give her the news. She didn't know I made it when I called. I played it cool. She was very sympathetic and understanding. It made it all the more sweet when I told her the actual outcome of the final fastest finger question. I cried tears of joy. Later, I dialed my other phone-friends and got them back in the fold for the next show. It taped the next day at 1pm.
Dad and I ate dinner in the restaurant downstairs at the Empire hotel. I was exhausted. We watched TV in the room and I read my almanac. I glanced at an item about the British Monarchy that proved valuable in the hot seat the next day. I could not get to sleep any easier than the first night even though I knew I was in the chair to start the show. I dozed off about 2am.
I met a producer in the lobby at 10am the next morning and we drove over to the ABC studios. This was after the gang of 20 contestants from the two new tapings arrived. I think one of them mentioned a 7am lobby call. Like Andy Aaron, the carry-over contestant from the day before, I joined the fresh group during rehearsal and quietly took a seat with my Dad in the bleachers.
It was cool being the carry-over. I felt a status boost accorded by the other contestants. I was relaxed and jovial but nearly freaked when the green room coffee urn was dry. I usually drink three cups before 11am and there wasn't a drop left. I needed coffee to jump start my brain. Producer Lauren arranged for more. Hooray for Lauren! Later, we ate lunch and I met two other people from Kansas: Jeff Moran, a sex-education/history professor at K.U, and a woman from Manhattan, Kansas. Neither made it past their fast finger trials.
They took the first group to make-up and wardrobe after a meal of swiss steak. As carry-over man, I was all cool because I knew everybody's name and knew the routine. I tried not to be cocky. After all, I was only at 300 dollars and I was sure there were some who secretly hoped for my early exit. One person admitted they groaned as a group when they found out the carry over guy was only at 300 dollars. Who could blame them? I told everybody I would try not to take too long. One gentleman, Joel Reid, was especially cordial during the brief time we hungout back stage. He was a returning contestant like Andy Aaron. He had been on a year earlier but did not get in the hot seat. Today was his second chance.
I waited until the rest were finished to get in the makeup chair and the nice lady did my face again. She told me she was working on the movie "Vanilla Sky" when she wasn't doing Millionaire. Finally, we marched single-file into the studio where the audience was warming up. I was last in line (the eleven spot) and told the guy in front of me (my spot from the day before) that it was a good place to be. It wasn't as lucky for him. He didn't make it. No thanks to me. I took up half the show myself.
They put cordless mics on us and as we stood under the bleachers in relative darkness. I felt grateful and happy and got misty for a moment but I sucked it up. I didn't want to ruin my makeup after all!
They announced the ten contestants before introducing me. I ran out for a curtain call and shook the floor director's hand before I retreated into the tunnel. This crowd was much more energetic. There were more youngsters and they really whooped it up. I stood by. Regis appeared on the other side of the tunnel. He brushed his hair and went over contestant notes with Wendy. Then he turned and said, "Hello Fowler." We were ready to start the show.
Away we went with a handshake and Regis and I walked to center stage and the adventure began. Almost immediately, we stopped down for something and I stared at the logo on the screen in front of me. This was it. A dream come true. It was surreal and ultra-real. Find out how I did. Tune into GSN for my 15 minutes of fame on tonight's rerun of "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire".