1. In late June, I started seeing commercials on KSTP-5 in Minneapolis for local "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" auditions on Monday, August 11th. They were to be held south of Minneapolis, at Mystic Lake Casino, from 7 AM to 11 AM. As some of you may remember from an article awhile back, I'm fairly good at trivia contests, and have always been a big fan of the show. So I planned my work week in advance, set my alarm early, dressed to head to work after I was done, and hit Mystic around 5:30 AM on the 11th.

    I expected for there to be a line, and was right. I was #253 (a number I would learn later), with the first 20-30 having pillows and blankets, having spent the night in one of the Grand Ballrooms (one was for the line, the other for the testing area). I saw a lot of people who obviously hadn't showered and just threw on a T-shirt, shorts and a baseball cap. Fine for many early-morning appointments; not so much, in my opinion, if you're looking to convince someone you should be on television. Over the course of the morning, I saw a dozen or so people with Mystic Player's Club cards on lanyards around their necks. TV producers are often looking for folks who stayed up all night humping the slots, so they've got that going for them. Which is nice.

    Anyway, they had two staff girls helping herd people in line, answering endless questions, handing out numbers and pencils to use on the test. By 6:30, there were approximately 800 people in line, and they moved the first 400 people into the other Grand Ballroom, where we squeezed into tightly packed chairs, each with a piece of cardboard on it. Once we were all seated, we were verbally given a list of instructions, starting with "If you leave this room for any reason between now and when the testing is done, you will be disqualified from auditioning today." Good thing I only had one cup of coffee. Other rules dealt mostly with not copying test questions and personal affiliations which could disqualify us as being eligible for the show.

    Several more staffers then handed out the first of two test packets to us. First was a movie quiz, for their upcoming Netflix Week; the other their general quiz, which also was used for several other specialty weeks, such as Halloween, or Three Generations (where a grandparent, parent and teenager play as a team). Answers were recorded on a Scantron form, like we used back in school for the SATs. As we were told to write down our name and assigned number, at least a dozen people said, "Can I phone a friend?" I half-expected them to all be escorted from the room for general lameness, but I had to be satisfied with nobody from the show cracking a smile.

    We had 10 minutes to finish the 30-question quiz, balancing test paper and Scantron on our laps, using the cardboard to write on. I needed about five, both for the Netflix test, and later, for the general quiz. Once we handed in both tests, it was about 7:15, and they took about 30 minutes to run all the sheets through the automated grader. During this time, people made small talk and asked a few questions about the show - but nobody moved, lest they be interpreted as trying to leave.

    Eventually, they came back out and read off the numbers of people who passed one or both of the tests. Out of the 400, I was one of 11 who passed both. Once they herded the failures out, we were taken to yet another ballroom, where we took headshots, grabbed a paper application, and got a laminated card which told us to return at 12:30. Having passed both tests, I had to fill out both parts of the application, which was basically bio information and questions about yourself. I went to the office and filled out the form while doing some general busywork, not having time to start what I normally would have been doing. I haven't written out six pages of longhand in close to 20 years, probably...since I was in college.

    When I came back at 12:30, the approximately 80 of us were put into the second ballroom again, where we met one of the show's producers. She said we'd be doing pre-screen interviews of 2-3 minutes in duration, and that she would be off in another room, doing additional interviews "if necessary." One of the girls doing pre-screens, at a table in front of the room, had been doing line herding; the other, handing out tests. Needless to say, the latter was quite a bit cheerier, and I knew who I would prefer to talk to...a hunch which was proven out a short while later.

    So the pre-screens begin, and the first 8-10 people are told at the end of their interview, "Thank you for coming in, and congratulations on passing our test. You will get a postcard in the next 2-3 weeks stating whether or not you've been selected for our contestant pool." And they leave. Then, the only Three Generation game candidates I saw were called up, asked to sign a yellow form at the end of their interview, then went to talk to the producer. Ah-hah! This is what we want!!

    Everyone remaining took a bit more of a bulldog approach after this...we want the yellow form too! One sorry individual was particularly persistent, talking to the crabby line-herder girl. He did his interview, she gave him the "Thank you and congratulations" line...and he said something else. They talked for a few seconds more, and she repeated her line for a second time. Only he didn't move as she put her head down and took the next application from her pile. After 15-20 seconds of awkward silence, he started to speak again...and which point she loudly said, without looking up, "Thank You For Coming In! Good-bye!"

    Yeeeeeeesh. I figured the way I run, she'd call me next, and take her day out on me. But she didn't, and I talked to the other girl about 10 minutes later.

    We talked about my kids, and why I like movies, and generalities about my background and application answers. I put on a little bit more exuberance than I normally have, but standing out as social amongst a crowd of movie trivia dorks isn't that difficult. At the end of my interview...I got the yellow form! As it turns out, it's a release form to give them permission to videotape you. After filling out the form and waiting a minute, I walked over with a staffer and one other applicant to meet the producer.

    I walked in and met Jennifer the producer, who asked me to stand in front of a "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" backdrop, video camera pointing at the spot, Jennifer standing a couple feet behind the camera and a couple feet to the side. Our conversation started like this:

    Her: "OK, look into the camera and state your name."
    Me: "My name is Paul Herzog."
    Her: "Now make a funny face and wave into the camera!"
    Me: <goofy grin and wave>
    Her: "OK, now look at me."

    I figured it out quick...they want someone who can play the game and talk to Meredith Vieira without looking into the cameras all around you. I made eye contact and held it. Didn't hurt she was quite fine-looking, as all game show producers should be. She asked some more questions straight from my application (some of them duplicates of the pre-screen, so I was answering them for the third time in about two hours) and questions about my job and my family. It was pleasant, and the 5-6 minutes or so flew by.

    At the end, she gave me the "Thank You and Congratulations" line...with a little extra detail. Jennifer told me I will get a postcard in 2-3 weeks stating whether or not I'm in the contestant pool...and if I do make the contestant pool and am selected to appear on the show, I'll get a phone call up-to-30 days out with a taping date. I would be responsible for my own transportation expenses to go to New York City, and was I OK with that? Of course I'm OK with it...I want to be a Millionaire!

    So stay tuned...I'll keep y'all posted if you'd like....
    Add grapsfan to Rail
  2. Nice, I want on that show as well. I used to call in and make round #2 a couple times on the original show but only 25% of those round winners get a callback for #2 and I never did. GL GL TID
    Add xxbossmanxx to Rail
  3. From one life donk to another let me be the first to say congrats and I hope you run well on WWTBAM!!

    Add gosalukis83 to Rail
  4. congratulations and best of luck. but you sure are one condescending bastard. and I mean that in the nicest possible way.
    Add dolphin13 to Rail
  5. gl
    Add tekiller to Rail
  6. my prep-school dorm parent won 25k last year

    Add RonKarkovice to Rail
  7. GL graps, hope you make the show!

    If you need a phone a friend, I will have google ready to go!!!!
    Add marinersheep to Rail
  8. GL man definitely keep us updated thatd be pretty cool if you got on.
    Add Bawsten to Rail
  9. Nice one Graps. Haven't you already won an absurd amount of money in a Quiz before???
    TID OBV.
    Add elendil to Rail
  10. "Fingers crossed"
    Add towman1 to Rail
  11. Good luck, Graps! Thanks for sharing. You're still the only person that I wouldn't bet any money with when it comes to Jeopardy.
    Add RandomK to Rail
  12. gl man tid :). i dont even think i can go on r u smarter than a 5th grader lol.
    Add Bballmike222 to Rail
  13. I used to watch that show and try that phone in contest to get on. I can't tell you how pissed I was when they changed the method of selecting contestants due to the "racism" of allowing people to just get on through their ability to answer questions.
    Add heynow21 to Rail
  14. Hey Graps good luck and hope you make it!

    I tried out for the college edition in Boston in 2000 I believe. I have a very similar story to you in that I was one of about 25 out of 500 to pass both the tests they gave us. I then had to do a 5 minute interview on camera, and I am sure this is where I went wrong. I've never been the best at hamming it up, so my personality must have just not been enough.

    Damn I still wish I had that chance.

    GL GL!
    Add skeeze666 to Rail
  15. Good luck, hope you get the call. I'm still haunted by my Super Millionaire appearance, where I got literally no sleep the night before and had an epic failure on the fastest finger portion, only to watch all the people from my taping suck it up bigtime in the hot seat on questions, every which one I knew the answer to. Sigh...
    Add mkvandy03 to Rail
  16. awesome gl...i didnt even know they made new ones of these?
    Add Zwett to Rail
  17. I used to get to round 2 on the phone alot. in like 2000 I made round 2 on the phone thing and GOT CALLED to do next part. questions were impossiable. think out of 40 people they picked 10 and I wasnt one of them.
    Add whitealroker to Rail
  18. lol nice TID grapssssss !!!1
    Add MadProfesor to Rail