Who Wants to Be a Millionaire

Weekdays on Premiered Aug 16, 1999 In Season


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Who Wants to Be a Millionaire

Show Summary

From the four corners of the continent, people with dreams of instant riches are flown to New York City, to seize the day when they, with courage and wisdom, gain the opportunity to change the course of their lives in one short day. This is the world's greatest game show..... Who Wants to Be a Millionaire!!!

Based upon the British program of the same title, this show offers a maximum prize of $1,000,000 for correctly answering a series of multiple choice questions. Originally, as in the UK edition, contestants were required to correctly answer 15 questions of increasing difficulty, but in 2010, the format was modified so that the contestants are now faced with 14 questions of random difficulty. This show has endured as one of the longest-running and most popular variants in the global Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? franchise.

The original hour-long prime-time version of the show was broadcast on ABC from August 16, 1999 to June 27, 2002, and was hosted by Regis Philbin, a famed media personality, actor, and singer with a career going back to the 1960s, who is most widely known for hosting a "live" morning talk show. ABC's overexposure of the program led audiences to tire of it, and grilled the show to cancellation. However, not all hope was lost for the property: the production team reincarnated the show as a half-hour syndicated series, which premiered on September 16, 2002. The syndicated Millionaire's original host was Meredith Vieira, a news anchor and journalist who, at the time of the show's debut, was chiefly known as the moderator of ABC's daytime talk show The View, then later co-hosted NBC's Today Show from 2006 through 2011, and is now set to become the host of a syndicated talk show that will premiere in the coming year. Vieira remained Millionaire's host through eleven seasons, hosting over 1,800 episodes and giving away over $70,000,000 to a vast multitude of contestants, before deciding to abandon her then-current career and pursue new opportunities. Subsequently, Cedric Kyles, an actor, director and (as his stage name implies) an entertainer, signed on to become the show's new host, and his run is set to begin in September 2013.

The game play of the Millionaire show has been changed substantially since the program's introduction to American airwaves. Originally contestants were required to call the phone number 800-433-8321 and play a telephone game wherein they had to answer three questions correctly, then get selected into a random drawing, then compete for ten spots on the show and subsequently play a preliminary "Fastest Finger" round before finally advancing to the Hot Seat to begin their journeys for $1,000,000. Now potential contestants take a written test, participate in an interview, and advance to the syndicated program, where they are simply called onstage after the preceding contestant's game ends.

The show originally adhered to the same format as the British version, but in 2008 the formula began to deviate substantially from the original, with the addition of a clock that would time contestants' questions, and the use of experts who would contact the contestant for answers via a face-to-face Skype connection. The format was given its biggest overhaul yet in Fall 2010, with the introduction of question randomization and the retirement of all the lifelines (with the exception of "Ask the Audience") in favor of "jumps" that would allow contestants to skip the question and move on to the next level automatically.

ABC has occasionally brought back the prime-time version for special editions. In 2004, the production team created Who Wants to Be a Super Millionaire, which was aired on a more limited basis, and which featured a top prize of $10,000,000, more money than anyone else has ever won in television history to date. Then 2009 saw a special 10th Anniversary Celebration which celebrated the milestone of the program's debut with a number of special celebrity guests, including a "Mystery Guest" revealed to be Vieira, who would turn the tables on Philbin himself - and invite the remaining "Fastest Finger" contestants to compete on the syndicated show.

There were also a number of special events and gameplay twists on the mainstream program's run. A progressive jackpot was briefly used on the primetime show, increasing by $10,000 for each episode wherein the top prize was not won, and celebrity editions have also been conducted, with notable individuals from various fields playing for charitable organizations of their choice.

The U.S. version of Millionaire has been credited with single-handedly reviving - and even breaking new ground for - the game show genre. It revolutionized the look and feel of game shows with its unique lighting system, dramatic music cues, and futuristic set, and became one of the highest-rated shows in the history of American television. It paved the way for the genre of reality programming, and made catchphrases out of such lines as "Is that your final answer?"


Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 9/2/2013

Season 12 : Episode 1

Regis Philbin

Regis Philbin


Tim Vincent

Tim Vincent

Guest Host (syndicated version)

Tom Bergeron

Tom Bergeron

Guest Host (syndicated version)

Leeza Gibbons

Leeza Gibbons

Guest Host (syndicated version)

Meredith Vieira

Meredith Vieira

Host (syndicated version)

Al Roker

Al Roker

Guest Host (syndicated version)

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Fan Reviews (133)

  • Annoying

    My last post. As one heading said "TERRY'S YELLING IS BRUTAL"+++

    Mr. Cruz was simply ear-drum bursting loud but now he's shown that he simply likes/wants to make noise. Example: A big money quest. is answered, the crowd is clapping but he has to be louder than the audience by dragging the $ amount out . "10,000 dollaaaaaars"!! "This will sum up everything I've written. I cut my computer on and forgot why I did it and low and behold, Mr. Crews was introducing a guest and he was so loud he jogged my memory and that was to log on to Millionaire reviews and see what others had to say about his loudness. Producers, that shows that you have to ask him to QUIET IT DOWN!!! This, I just added; Cedric was painful to listen to and the new host is so loud I'm glad when the horn blows. There must be new, young management on Millionaire. The new host can be tolerated if he quiet it down). Producers, would you *PLEASE* ask the new host of this 2014 season to quiet it down. Please!! He's straining his vocal cords and my ears!! He can tone it down. Every answered question doesn't have to be followed by "EXCITEMENT"!! The producers must not have talked to the new host about the reviews Cedric received and the host must not have read them because the new host yells about everything. Millionaire now seems like a game show you'll find on the "Game Show Network" for children where they talk loud and show excitement about everything to stimulate the children. Lastly, he makes so much noise after just about every answer (like Cedric) that he's winded and has to read the questions at a low tone (like Cedric)!! I'm watching Millionaire now and every word he used he yelled just to call a member of the audience down!! DARN-IT!! *OVERKILL* is the word for his noise, making his "EXCITEMENT" seem insincere and non-credible. Had to mention this (1-27-14). Not to mention how Mr. Cruz tells guests they have a lifeline or can use more than one lifeline at the most inopportune times (as soon as they say what they "think the answer is). Many have changed their minds and wasted a lifeline. One person decided to take the money after he mentioned lifelines (she would have been right). PRODUCERS, STOP THE MADNESS!! My last post. 12-30-14: Mr. Cruz's YELLING is ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS.moreless
  • whoops

    Your answer options were wrong Bryan Adams sang Summer of 69. Luckily she didn't lose her bank
  • you made a mistake

    who sang "the summer of 69" your answer was ryan adams his name is bryan adams.
  • Worst Host on TV

    I do not understand why a respectable show like Millionaire would hire a clown like terry cruz . He may be a nice person but he makes a fool of himself and the show every episode. Please get rid of him!!!
  • Mute the yeller

    Terry is worse host ever. He yells constantly. I mute the TV

    Please please tell me he is signed for 1 season only

    Hate his clothes


    A Firefly Reunion Photo Means...?

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    Blog Spotlight: Someone Wanted to Be a Millionaire Too Badly

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    More Info About This Show


    Game Show


    pop culture references, cultural institutions, competing for money, cultural phenomenon, rags to riches