Easy money can be hard work

The following is the author’s response to numerous inquiries from readers regarding when he is going to be on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (he’s not), if said inquisitors can borrow some money (they cannot), and how one goes about getting on such a show (keep reading, but it is assumed same readers could not possibly do so.)

really, really thought I had this success thing all figured out. After years of trying absolutely nothing and running out of ideas, I was going to be the Western hick who hit it big on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” the syndicated game show that now features “Today” show host Meredith Vieira in the seat that Regis made so famous while reviving the prime-time, game show format. (KOBF-TV, 4:30 p.m. weekday afternoons) I would prove once and for all that good things do come to those who wait, and wait, and wait, that a lifetime spent amassing useless facts was every bit as financially rewarding as one spent with a nose to a grindstone, which is if nothing else a tremendous waste of time in the post-Wonder Bread era.

With well-meaning friends assuring me that I was a shoe-in to be a contestant on the show, I spent the weeks following my audition waiting with a bit more confidence than prudence should have allowed. Truth be told, their positive outlook was actually well-founded, and if I weren’t planning to audition a second time, I likely already would have undertaken a nasty letter-writing campaign accusing the producers of nepotism and favoring Long Island hausfraus who wouldn’t know George Foster from Stephen Foster. But they do great on questions about cakes and pies. Anyway, I thought I had jumped through my last

hoop only to receive a dreaded post card that simply read, “sorry, no.” I’m going to jump through those hoops again, and if you’re curious as to how to do the same, here’s how to do it:

Go online to www.millionairetv.com. They’ll display the taping dates and you can request free tickets and an audition. That’s what I did.

They’ll send you your tickets, assuming you get drawn, which isn’t too tough.

Here’s the hard part. You have to fly to New York on the date of your audition. And you can’t stay with my friend Wally in Brooklyn like I did.

You may have to stand in the rain outside on West 57th Street for the better part of an hour, like I did. Then the 300 or so people auditioning that day file in and become the audi

ence for the day’s shows. We took the test right before the taping.

Here’s another hard part. You have to pass the test, like I did. Only about 15 of us did that, so we were rather full of ourselves. At least I was.

Then you watch them tape a few shows. It’s fun, you get to vote when the contestants ask the audience for help, and afterward those of us who passed the test had interviews with the producers. They’re the jerks that didn’t put me on the show, although I was the only one who passed who lived west of the Mississippi. And I thought I was charming. Jerks.

Next comes “don’t call us, we’ll call you.” Hoops to be sure, but it still beats working for a living. And after taking out several hundred thousand dollars in loans against my anticipated winnings, I am left with no choice but to go back in November to try it all over again. Maybe this time I’ll tell them I’m from Coney Island. •

– Ted Holteen



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