Who Wants to Be a Millionaire

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ABC (ended 2002)

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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?"

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Regis Philbin

Regis Philbin

Himself

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)

Thursday
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Friday
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Saturday
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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Poor Choice of Host for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire

    1.0
    Not only is Cedric the Entertainer vulgar, he constantly tries for laughs while people are trying to win real money. I still enjoy the show, but it's getting to the point where the show with the current host is unwatchable! How many more negative reviews/comments and/or FORMER viewers do the producers need to figure out that they need to hire a new host?
  • New Host Needed Now

    1.0
    Cedric is so far at odds with this show's focus that it boggles my mind why he was selected. The show is about testing one's thinking/knowledge and the host is totally out of his element. In fact, I don't think he'd survive two rounds of questions. His approach is so boisterous, idiotic and in-your-face that it doesn't give the contestant or the audience a chance to think. A wholly anti-intellectual approach to a somewhat intellectual show. In fact, his presence is so at odds/out of place that I can barely stand to watch the show anymore (I've watched it for decades). Please find some more appropriater slot for Cedric. He simply does not belong on this show.moreless
  • April 3, 2014 Bashing Public Schools

    1.0
    Cedric and his contestant were NOT funny bashing public schools for a laugh. I watch this show as often as I can. I am a college professor and former public school teacher. Everyone who attends public schools learns about MacBeth, though the contestant seemed dumbfounded so bad mouthed the schools for his ignorance. Cedric went along with him when the Scooby Doo question came up next, stating that was a public school question. Not funny. Cheap shot for a stupid joke at the expense of all those who work hard in the public schools. Not a fan anymore.moreless
  • Cedric needs to be fired NOW

    7.0
    I'm so glad to see, MAN, that other people, MAN, feel the same way that I do, MAN, about Cedric, MAN. is BEYOND awful. He is practically illiterate and can't even read the friggin' questions when they come up, and one WOULD THINK that being able to read just might be a job qualification to host this show. And his mumbling/stalling/reiterating what the contestant said/pausing after every single answer is given is just ridiculous. And, perhaps worst of all, his humor is juvenile and sop***ric at best. in God's name were the producers of this show thinking when they hired him? The only explanation that comes to mind is that they wanted Steve Harvey (who I also don't like because of his smugness), but because he was unavailable, they went with another overweight black comedian. What other "logic" could there be? PLEASE, PLEASE fire this man immediately, and hire a decent host. next ABC? "Jeopardy" hosted by Snoop Dogg?moreless
  • Annoying

    1.0
    I used to love watching Millionaire, not anymore. Cedric, the show is not about you and your comedic skills. He interrupts the contestants while they're concentrating on a question and if a word in a question can be used in a sexual manner, he always dwells on the word; embarrassing the contestant and audience. He seem to think he has to say something comical after just about every question. When he goes to talking you can see the audience cringe or look around. Producers, please have him correct those things. Thank you. Others are calling for his dismissal. HELP-HELP-HELP-HELP!! Producers are you listening to the cries of the **FORMER** fans!!!

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    More Info About This Show

    Categories

    Game Show

    Themes

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