Think you're worth a million? Can you guess the identity of this tubular sensation? He's been a TV personality for nearly four decades. In the 1960s he played second banana to talk-show host Joey Bishop. In the 1970s he hosted two game shows, The Neighbors and Almost Anything Goes, both of which fizzled. Then came a career boost in the late '80s via a network morning show. More recently, he's been in the prime-time spotlight, giving away a million dollars to lucky winners. Yes, yes, you've got it! It's Regis Philbin! Come on down! Since last August, when Who Wants to Be a Millionaire debuted on ABC, the avuncular 68-year-old Philbin has become one of TV's ubiquitous figures. After all, he's doing double duty. Teamed with the giggly, gregarious mother of Cody and Cassidy on ABC's Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee, he helps millions of Americans begin their day. Then he's on again at night, hosting the surprise hit game show, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Airing three nights a week to an audience that averages 28.5 million viewers, the quiz show an Americanized version of a top British series has been credited with giving commercial TV a much-needed shot in the ratings. No wonder there's a tie-in book. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? The Official Book from the Hit TV Show purports to deliver Everything You Need to Practice, Play, and Win! In fact, there are several dozen pages devoted to how the show operates: how to become a contestant, what a contestant goes through ( The Details and the Drama ), as well as how the show came to be. By and large, though, this is a book of trivia a series of questions (and answers) that allows readers to test their skills.
Some of the questions are unquestionably goofy. (Which of the following is found inside an Eskimo Pie? A. Whale blubber B. Ice cream C. Caribou meat D. An Eskimo). Some are historical, others pop-cultural. If the book's topics are eclectic, so are those on the TV show which has become so popular it's sent TV critics and pundits alike on a quest to figure out why, exactly, there's so much interest in a game show. Here's one theory, as espoused by U.S. News ∧ World Report: ÔMillionaire' is the one show on network television that shows ordinary Americans for better or for worse. Executive producer Michael P. Davies says the appeal lies in the show's democratic approach to its contestants: We treat everybody the same. The show broadly reflects society. And of course, there is Philbin. As John Carpenter, the show's first (and much publicized) millionaire put it, I can't imagine the show without him. He brings his own unique style and just the right amount of drama and humor. He doesn't try to intimidate you. Reege's nice-guy demeanor has made him the host with the most a position he candidly relishes. After all, he admits, I've never had this kind of attention before. Pat H. Broeske is a producer of the feature film remake of Champagne for Caesar, a spoof about a quiz show.