Once again, “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?” has saved ABC. The revival of the classic game show has been a ratings hit this Spring over two different nights and timeslots, earned a second season renewal from the network. With the Season Finale airing this Thursday, here are my picks for the 10 most mind-blowing things about what has happened so far:
BRINGING BACK REGIS
Before taping the episodes, original U.S. host Regis Philbin made a guest appearance on set with new host Jimmy Kimmel. Their conversation aired as part of a “Secrets & Surprises” “20/20” special.
FILMING IT JUST IN TIME
These “Millionaire” episodes were filmed on Saturday March 14th and Sunday March 15th, just as the entertainment production shutdown was beginning in Hollywood. ABC’s Senior VP of alternative series Rob Mills told Variety, “If it had been a day later, I don’t know that we would have gotten it done.”
Executive Producer Michael Davies added, “We moved really fast. We accelerated the schedule and delivered more than eight episodes worth of material by the end of our second shooting day [nine total], so we were able to cancel our third shooting day. That was to allow some of our crew and staff, who had traveled from the East Coast, and some of them from the U.K., to get on planes and get home to their families.”
If ABC wasn’t able to pull this off, they would’ve had to fill nine hours of programming during this time with reruns. (This section alone is kinda mind-blowing.)
Since the team didn’t allow traditional audience members to attend, about 15 crew members delivered the applause and occasional laughter.
“ASK THE HOST”
This meant also eliminating the “Ask the Audience” lifeline and replacing it with “Ask the Host” (which is used on the U.K. version). Kimmel doesn’t know the answers in advance, but he has consulted with several contestants — getting most (but not all) of his questions right.
EXPERTS ARE NEW FRIENDS
One of the things that’s different about this edition is that the celebrity contestants can bring the smartest person they know to help them with up to 11 of the 15 questions. However, some of these “experts” are people the celebs really don’t know. In fact, some of the celebs met these experts (many who were “Jeopardy!” champs) for the first time on the “Millionaire” set.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
Actress Catherine O’Hara was one of the most successful contestants of the season, but every time she or Kimmel mentioned the name of her series, “Schitt’s Creek”, a graphic was put on the screen with the title of the show. This was likely done so people who weren’t familiar with the series didn’t think that they kept saying “S*it” every time.
CALLING DAD BACK
Actress Lauren Lapkus reached the $500,000 question and used the “Phone a Friend” lifeline to call her dad. She trusted her Dad’s answer, but before it was revealed that she got the answer right, Kimmel decided to call Dad back — something that’s never done on the show. This time, however, Dad did not pick up. So Kimmel left a voicemail saying that Lapkus won $500,000.
THE “50:50” GUY IS REVEALED
When Anthony Anderson was in the Hot Seat, he was stuck on a $32,000 question about the Netflix series “Cheer”. But he debated using the “50:50” lifeline because he always thought that the “computer”’s decisions to eliminate two choices were never random. They would always end-up being the two you were torn between.
Kimmel then said, “It’s actually a guy named Dennis.” They then took a shot of Dennis in the control room with a headset on and his hands on a keyboard: “I can’t be influenced. I am not legally allowed to. There’s a whole bunch of people that you don’t see off-camera. I’d be in trouble.”
Anderson decided to use the “50:50”… but he still got the question wrong.
DR. PHIL TAKES HIS TIME
When Dr. Phil played “Millionaire”, he initially got testy with Kimmel over the wording of one of the first questions (usually the easiest). He then got up to the $32,000 question and took his sweet time with it. After a few minutes, an on-screen graphic appeared stating that they were flash-forwarding 5 minutes. Then we see Dr. Phil struggling for another minute or so. Another graphic appears stating that 10 more minutes go by before Phil ultimately chooses the correct answer. When the horn immediately sounded and Kimmel said, “Oh no, we’re out of time!”, Dr. Phil replied, “Yeah. No S*it.”
THE NIKKI GLASER SITUATION
On the second episode of the season, comedian Nikki Glaser was consulting with her expert (good friend Dr. Drew) on a movie question. They came to the conclusion that the answer was “1917”, but she yelled out, ‘“The Lighthouse”. Final Answer.” instead. Dr. Drew immediately yelled “NO!” and Glaser was also screaming. A stunned Kimmel resorted to laughter and then threw it to a commercial break.
When they came back from the break, the judges decided that because Glaser and Dr. Drew had clearly come to the decision of “1917” and she just misspoke — and because all the celebrities are playing for charity — they accepted “1917” as Glaser’s answer and allowed her to continue playing.
Some “Millionaire” fans online were upset with the decision. However, Davies revealed on Twitter that he had about five minutes to decide what to do. “It was no easy decision. But there was no precedent in celebrity when it’s for charity. And it’s so clear that she wanted to answer 1917 and just zoned out.”