Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Millionaire Audience Experience

Since I live in NY I sometimes get to attend various television show tapings for free. I've been to America's Got Talent, The Martha Stewart Show, The Daily Show and today I saw a taping of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire with Meredith Viera. I had signed up to audition for the show and right now in order to do that you must be an audience member.

I was told to arrive at 9, but to be aware that many people arrive earlier. They also routinely overbook the show and let people in first come first serve so it is wise to arrive before 9. They actually called me to confirm yesterday that I would be coming. The staffer on the phone mentioned that I should not worry about the rain because they had a brand new indoor holding area. This was not entirely true. They do have a new holding area but they are not so quick to let you into it. When I arrived at 8:40 there was already a very long line of umbrella holding people. We all banned together and formed a tent out of our numerous umbrellas. I am glad I did not listen to the guy on the phone who said to "ignore" the rain.

After 30-40 minutes we did get into the holding area. We passed through a metal detector and made our way into a sparse room where we were given audition forms to fill out. They only look at the forms if you pass the audition test, so I wouldn't agonize over it until after you take the test and feel like you passsed. I would also suggest bringing your own pen. They run out.

We were then filed into the studio. We had to walk past the catering services area for the staff, which I thought was a little cruel since we were never offered any snacks or drinks (the Martha Stewart Show actually had a bagel truck offering cocoa, tea, coffeee and pastries). However, I am a little biased as I am currently starving all the time. So bring snacks. we were placed in the bleacher type seating that was comfortable enough. The studio is smaller than it seems on TV and they create the sense of space by asking those in the front seats to scooch in close next to their neighbours. I was lucky and got a seat right behind the spot where the contestants stand so our row got extra atention. Anyone in a white or light shirt was moved because it created bad affects on the camera due to the dark lighting (they warned us about this on the tickets to the show but some people never follow instructions).

Once everyone was seated we were given the scantrons and exams for the audition. You get 10 minutes to answer 30 questions. The time is really not the problem. If you know the answer it's quick. The problem is the difficulty level of the questions. I would say I got around 20  right very easily and quickly. Another five I think I was able to reason out, but the remaining five I had to guess on. The standrad for passing is pretty high so that just isn't going to cut it. They vary the test and allow you to take it again on another day. Once we handed in the scantrons they had my row scooch over to make room for family members of contestants. Some people got booted to the back because there was not enough space. This was the beginning of a lot of scooching for us as throughout the show they kept moving around the family members.

The warm up guy came out and honestly I found him slightly annoying and not that funny. So after various forced cheering, bad jokes and then reviewing the noises we should make during the show, Meredith came out. She was really nice. She chatted with us for a bit and then they brought out a contestant, who was actually funnier and more likeable than the warm-up guy. They had to repeat various questions for the camera after they were done and took various commercial breaks. This was all interesting to see. The warm-up guy came out during the breaks to try and make more jokes. In total we watched three tapings (Meredith changes in the middle so that it looks like a new day) and we got out about one o'clock. Before we left the people who passed the test were anounced and told to stay behind for an interview. Passing the test does not guarantee you end up on the show. They select contestants from the pool. If you are a woman you are much more likely to be selected because most of the test passers were men. They also like people with energy and personality.

Did I pass? Alas no. But I think I will try again. There were no audience freebies or snacks, which I thought was rude given the amount of time we spent there but otherwise it was a fun day.


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