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  Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (US)

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This Show Page is maintained by: Jay Norris

> Description 
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire first aired in the United States in 1999 and was hosted by Regis Philbin. In 2002, the show was sent into syndication and changed hosts to Meredith Vieira. The syndicated version does not include the Fastest Finger competition; contestants are just brought out individually. Also, instead of the telephone competitions of ABC's versions, there are simple contestant auditions for the syndicated version, as in other game shows. Both versions omit the question mark from their official titles due to a superstition about question marks in film and TV productions.

The network version became explosively popular in 1999, and at its peak was airing in prime time four nights a week on ABC. The show was popular enough to find rival networks creating or reincarnating game shows of their own, and created a brief renaissance of sorts for United States based game shows as well as a flurry of American versions of UK originals such as The Weakest Link. ABC's using Who Wants to be a Millionaire in so many prime time slots left it with a deficit of unique programming when the show's popularity faded. ABC's overall Nielsen ratings suffered as a result of the show's decline in popularity. In February 2004, Regis Philbin returned for five episodes of Super Millionaire, which offered a $10,000,000 top prize; the series returned for seven additional episodes in May.

One of the reasons that Who Wants to be a Millionaire lost popularity in the United States was linked to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. After a hiatus that lasted several weeks following the attacks on the World Trade Center and The Pentagon, ABC began airing more Celebrity Editions of the show, most likely in a bid to give America something "light" after the "horror" of 9/11. The Celebrity Editions featured various celebrities playing the show for charity. The problem was that in this version the audience was allowed to yell out the answers to each question up to and including the $32,000 level. The suspense of the show was eliminated with all contestants virtually guaranteed to walk away with at least $32,000, and it disappeared from ABC by December 2001.

The $10,000,000 prize offered by Super Millionaire is the largest prize on offer around the world, although unlike in the original programme the top prize is not paid in one lump sum but paid over 20 years. Because of the relative value of the British pound compared to other currencies, the British show offers the second largest prize money. In Germany there was a version where contestants could win 10 million Deutschmarks. After the introduction of the Euro, RTL made the prize 5 million (DM 9.75 million).

Two new lifelines were added in Super Millionaire: Three Wise Men and Double Dip. However, those could only be used those after a contestant reached the $100,000 mark. Three Wise Men consisted of the contestant asking a panel of experts a question. The panel would then have 30 seconds to come up with the answer. The panel was kept in darkness until the player made it up to $100,000 (If no player had made it up to that level within the hour show, the Three Wise Men would be revealed to the audience to see who they were). The Double Dip lifeline was a chance to guess at a question twice. Once a player chose to Double Dip, they could not back out of answering the question.

A version of this game named "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire - Play It!" is an attraction at the Disney-MGM Studios theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, and at Disney's California Adventure theme park at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. The game is very similar to the television version. On each question, the audience, using a keypad attached to the back of the seat in front, chooses A, B, C, or D. When a contestant chooses to stop playing, the next contestant is picked from the audience member who answered the most questions correctly and most quickly. This version is not played for cash. For every question answered correctly, the contestant receives a pin, and after reaching the "safe havens", a baseball cap and T-shirt. The top prize is a vacation, which is frequently changed.

Show Description Credit: Wikipedia
 
> Airing History & Information 
Last Airing Aug 01, 2002
Premiere August 17, 1999
Episodes unknown
Network ABC
Format/Time Color / 60 Minutes
Country United States
Upcoming Airs Not currently airing
 
> Cast 
Regis Philbin....   Host

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