Dan gets going in his continuing effort to win the big money. He flies through the questions but likes to converse in between. The producers said they'd edit out the unnecessary stuff, but those of us in the ring were getting impatient. We wanted our chance!
Dan takes a chance at the $125,000 and misses it. It was interesting to see how it worked, because Regis could not say the word "mitochondria" for anything! After Dan was done, they brought him back into the hot seat so Regis could re-read the question. It took about 6 takes...every time he got to mitochondria, he'd flub it up, and they'd stop the tape. Finally, on the last try, he got it right. Dan tried sneaking in "I'll say...(correct answer). Not missing a beat, Regis screams "WRONG!!!!", which got every busting up laughing.
Regis heads off-stage while they prepare for the fastest finger. Someone comes on-stage to keep the audience engaged. After they get the prompter ready for Regis, he comes back, and we face our first fastest finger (say that 5 times fast!).
Put these movies in order of release, starting with the earliest:
First Wives Club
Earth Girls Are Easy
What Women Want
(I don't remember the order on the show...once I find my copy of it, I'll edit this part a bit)
I knew that Tootsie was in the 80s, the First Wives club was some time in the 90s, and What Women Want was fairly recent. Earth Girls Are Easy…no flippin idea! Okay…where to put it…sounds somewhat older, so maybe I should puQUIT THINKING AND GET AN ANSWER IN NOW!!!
PRESS…PRESs…PRESS…PRESS…CRAP!!! The third one didn't take…backspace…PRESS…SUBMIT!!
I looked down, and I put Earth Girls Are Easy first…
…I'm not feeling too confident about that one.
Wait for the rest of the 20 second time frame to finish up….....
This takes absolutely forever…the wait is excruciating! The boom camera moves over to our side of the ring of fire, so that means one of us got it. Nope…no way it's me…unless nobody else knew it. I look over at Allan Hackney, next to me, and we both let out this huge exhale.
Regis calls the time up and gives the standard "let's look at the correct order…"
My pulse was somewhere around 436.
Earth Girls Are Easy
The First Wives Club
What Women Want
Right next to me, Allan is celebrating…good for him! They stop the taping to validate the answers and make sure nothing malfunctioned. They also brought Allan's significant other to the chair behind where he would be sitting (all the people that came with the contestants were sitting together near the top of the studio).
After validating that Allan got it and getting everything situated, they start taping again, and Allan starts his journey. I paused for a moment, realizing that very few people have seen the show from this perspective.
Now, the "stack" of questions that is selected for you means EVERYTHING. When I watched Kevin Olmstead go through the stack, I realistically could have seen myself making it to the $125,000 level with that one (not saying that Kevin had an easy stack at all…just that I had an interest in the categories of questions that he had). I bring this up because I would have been in HUGE trouble with Allan's stack. Everyone has decent knowledge on something, but everyone also has a "blind spot" in their knowledge where you simply don't know a question that 98% of the others would consider easy. I simply did NOT know what putting the kibosh on something meant (Allan's $200 question). There were a couple of others…I had no idea who Andre Braugher was (the answer to his $16,000 question), for example.
Allan got to the $125,000 level really quickly, even with a break for scheduled commercials…remember that we all agreed not to mess around with stalling. He phoned a friend for help on figuring out what country Alberto Fujimori ran. His phone-a-friend wasn't able to help, and Allan took a chance and incorrectly guessed. He walked with $32,000.
Another break as they got Allan and his significant other off the stage and in the back-stage where he could relax and watch the rest of the taping. The rest of us in the Ring talked to each other (we all got along, even though we knew we would be battling in a few moments).
Regis comes back on-stage, and we're ready to start taping again.
"Put the follow airlines in geographic order, starting with the north."
As he started to repeat the question, my mind went into overdrive. I immediately thought "SwissAir and Air New Zealand." It was geography AND it was flight-related, so I knew that this would likely be my best chance.
I didn't even notice that they mis-spelled Quantas. Finair..FINLAND…close to Switzerland. Qantas…Aussies…far south. Alitalia is Italy, and Lufthansa is in Germany. Germany is north of Italy…PRESS A…PRESS C…PRESS B…PRESS D…pause for the briefest of looks to make sure the answers registered. I had one thumb over the BACK button and one over the SUBMIT button.
The heart-rate is now over 844. I simply look down…the 20 seconds takes even longer, especially as I hear the boom camera move over to our side again. I knew my answers are correct – the only question is whether someone else got them quicker or not. I continue looking at the screen in front of me, begging time to move just a bit faster.
Regis announces that he's going to give us the correct answer. We all turn to the jumbo screens to see.
Finnair (yeah…keep going)
Lufthansa (I think I started holding my breath about this time)
Alitalia (yeah…show who got it first)
Quantas (COME ON ALREADY!!!!)
"Let's see who got the correct order first"
The first thing I notice is that there was quite a bit of green…I wasn't the only one to get it correct. (still holding my breath)
My time…right around 4.5 seconds. I couldn't even look at the other times, because I see my name start flashing.
I let out this huge "WHOOP!" as I jump out of the chair (I am no longer holding my breath). I run up, shake Regis's hand, and we walk to the center of the stage.
Crap…forgot about the validation.
I look over at Sheri, who is being escorted to the significant other chair, and we just give a big smile at each other. They give me a glass of water, throw on a little more makeup, and I think they have me do a mike check. The validation checks out, and a producer comes out and reminds me how to get in the chair. He then tells me to look up at the screen. On there, they have me frozen, starting to head to the chair (when they were taping a couple of minutes ago). I have my head down and my right hand in front of me as I had just released the handshake. The producer looks at me and tells me that I need to get into that pose, which looks like I'm playing Twister or doing the robot. We all start laughing for a minute…it was good as it broke the tension a bit. I get into the pose, and the producer gets everyone quiet for a minute as he gives a couple of instructions to the booth. Regis is right next to me, whispering "2.17 million…it could be yours…you can do it!" I'm trying to keep my balance while at the same time trying not to throw up AND respond to Regis with a barely-audible "yep".
The audience starts clapping, and we're rolling tape again!
I get in the hot seat and start calming down a bit. I could tell that Regis just did not like saying my name…it was always "Chris….pause….Mush…rush." He cracks a joke about Normal Illinois being quite normal. They were able to use the headline from The Pantagraph and had a good laugh about that. He talks to Sheri for a second and then does the trademark "Let's Play…Who WANTS to BE a MILLionAIRE, with Chris….pause….Mush…rush."
I look at the water sitting next to the console and contemplate downing the entire glass in one gulp. Cotton-mouth hit me. Those of you who have seen the show probably noticed me pursing my lips all throughout the experience. No time to do it because the lights went down a little, and the music stopped.
Wow…eerie…for the first 5 questions, it's deathly silent in there. They edit in the music in post-production. I try not to let that get to me…I'm more worried about getting something about a kibosh on the $100 question.
$100…An orchestra is led by how many conductors?
I let out a chuckle on "Ask Mozart" and say it exactly as they told us to: 'A', 'One', 'Final Answer'
Okay…got that one out of the way…I immediately calm down a little, and the experience becomes like a video game.
Something about a high jumper
I snickered at the hot lava and mentioned that it would be more interesting if it were lava, but the correct answer was Bar.
Which of the following is both a Roman God and a television show?
This one was one of those questions that threw some people…luckily, the stack was favorable for me, and it didn't trip me up. Titus was out of the way.
Where would you find a control tower?
I'm on a roll…$1,000 here I come!
An area of land known as a 'plain' has very few what?
I had "mountains" in my head before I saw the choices. It has to be…plains are usually really flat! 'Rocks' pops up as the first choice.
Hmmmm…well, rocks could be a possible answer! I'll go with rocks.
Then 'trees' comes up. Uh oh. Trees seems like the right answer, but I just couldn't get 'rocks' out of my head (groan). Recalling that the audience led two people astray yesterday AND the average age of the audience is approximately 7.8 years, I decide to burn my "Ask the Audience" lifeline – I make a major mistake, however in saying "I think the answer is C: Trees…but…". Of course, I inadvertently biased the audience. Over 80 percent of the audience picked "trees", which made me look like a complete moron! As I answer, Regis shrugs his shoulders at me and raises his eyebrows. I kind of nod to him as I acknowledge the audience, as though I knew I may have burned a lifeline early. Still, I feel like I made an okay decision. When I talked to Kevin Olmstead after we taped (he had to stick around as he was the carry-over contestant), he fully agreed that it was not a great question. In hindsight, what I should have done was ask for a clarification and verify that rocks could not imply hills or mountains, which was legal. Still, I got to $1,000 and couldn't leave with less.
I take a deep breath and get ready for the next set of questions.