This morning I went over to Fort Worth to audition to be on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. My wife had seen an ad for the auditions a couple of days ago and suggested I go. I said “Yeah, yeah, yeah” and didn’t think too much about it. The ad was on again yesterday morning and she suggested it again. This time I figured “What the h***, as long as I can get the day off I might as well give it a shot. Nobody watches it anymore so there shouldn’t be much of a crowd.” I got the day off and I was up this morning at 5 a.m.
Turns out I was wrong about there not being much of a crowd. I got there at 7:00 for a 9:00 audition and the line stretched around 3.5 sides of a city block. I estimated that I was about 300th in line or so. Turned out I was just over 400th. I got out my lawn chair and settled in for a long wait. The big question in the line was when they’d let us inside. The audition wasn’t scheduled to start until 9:00, and the temperature was already in the low 80s with a forecast high of about 100.
The line started moving about 7:20 and by 7:40 we had gotten inside. They were trying to cram as many people as possible into the Bass Performance Hall where the auditions were being held. The first group of 250 got into the auditorium to start the audition process about 8:25 and they were still slowly letting people into the building and lining up all around the public areas of the hall. There had to be at least 1,000 people there by that point. The line still stretched all the way around the block even after everybody who had been outside when the doors opened had gotten inside.
At 9:00 I got a fridge magnet that indicated that I was about halfway through the second group. We also got a questionnaire for our contact information and such, along with some essay questions such as What would you do with $1 million, what’s your most embarrassing moment, etc. It took a while to get those figured out and written down, but we still had time to kill before the first group got out of there and our group got into the auditorium.
That finally happened about 10:05, but it took until about 10:30 for everybody to get into the auditorium. In the interests of speeding things up they took groups 2 and 3 into the auditorium at the same time, so there were about 500 people to get in and settled.
The first step was to pass a test. There were two tests, the regular general knowledge test and a second movie-trivia test to qualify for their movie week shows. Everybody took both tests, which were 30 multiple choice questions each. You had 10 minutes to complete each test. I took almost the whole 10 minutes for the movie test and thought I had gotten 24 questions right or so. That was better than I thought I’d do, but I figured it probably wouldn’t be enough to qualify on the movie test. The general knowledge test went better. I thought I got 27 or 28 of those questions right and was pretty confident that I would make the cut there. During the Q&A before the tests the guy from the show said that there was a definite qualifying score established, but he would not reveal what it was.
The two tests were finished about 11:15. There was some time to kill while the tests were graded so he did some more Q&A and then they threw some WWTBAM t-shirts out into the crowd. I didn’t get one and didn’t even come close to getting one. The tests were answered with the old fill-in-the-blank with a no. 2 pencil variety, so they were graded quickly with an optical scanner. At 11:30 they gave us the results of the tests: I flunked the movie test as expected, but passed the general knowledge test. About 5-10 people passed the movie test and 20-25 passed the general interest test (out of 250).
After the test results were announced, the people who hadn’t qualified were dismissed with a Thanks For Coming and Better Luck Next Time. Apparently there were a lot of next times. A guy a couple of people down from me had passed the test 3 times before and passed it this time as well, and he said he recognized some people from other auditions.
We the survivors were then taken upstairs to another room for the interview phase. They took our picture with a Polaroid camera and stapled it to our questionnaires. We got called up to the front one at a time for the interviews. I was one of the first ones. The guy said hi and glanced through the questionnaire and then asked a few questions about family, job, etc. Nice enough and pretty low stress. Not sure what the purpose was, I guess just to make sure you weren’t a weirdo or a complete zero personality-wise. So I probably flunked on both accounts. Somebody had asked what they wanted in the interview and the show guy said (predictably enough) “Just be yourself.” So I thought “You want me to be surly and uncooperative?”
At any rate, the interview just lasted a couple of minutes after which the guy remarked “You scored high on the test.” I don’t know if that is good, bad, or indifferent. Then he thanked me for coming out and said I’d get post card from the show in a couple of weeks that would let me know if I passed the interview and got put into the contestant pool. I have a reasonably good feeling about the interview, but the guy sitting next to me had passed the test all three times before and then flunked the interview and he seemed pretty normal to me.
So we’ll see I guess. If I flunked the interview then at least I had an interesting morning and got a free fridge magnet for my trouble plus a pencil with the WWTBAM logo on it. I got out a few minutes after noon and the line was still around the block. I would guess there were at least 2,000 people in the line inside and outside by that point and people were still arriving. I was stopped 3 or 4 times by people in the line who wanted to know how it went. I was back home and back at work by 1:00 so I only had to use a half day of vacation.