From: izmet@siol.net (Izmet Fekali)
Subject: Re: Does Regis have a tell?
Date: 13 Mar 2000 00:00:00 GMT
Newsgroups: rec.gambling.poker

John A. D. Cervanyk wrote:
> The article I just read said Regis doesn't get the answer until
> after the contestant says final answer. The article said they do it that
> way so Regis can't give anything away.

By a freak set of circumstances, I happen to be extremely familiar with the show's mechanics.

Regis has the same monitor output in front of him as the contestant for budget control reasons.

When he asks "is this your final answer?" the contestant's response "yes" triggers the computer graphics man (the host has a hidden button for signaling to the TV director available under his right hand, but as far as I know, only the original English host Chris uses it. Regis prefers a set of verbal phrases which trigger the computer responses). Instantly you see the answer on your TV screen flashing and there is a nice sound effect (both caused by the same button push), and both Regis and the sweating guy get the correct answer on their monitors.

However, the contestant's monitor is strategically taped over at the right places with duct tape. He is not allowed to see whether he's right or not until Regis tells him so.
And yes, Regis is NOT informed of the right answer until the contestant makes up his mind, nor he has any access to the questions or people making them up.

--
Izmet Fekali
Burek Experts Ltd.
Catering the World since 1389!
Albania, Slovenia, Europe


From: izmet@siol.net (Izmet Fekali)
Subject: Re: OT: Does Regis have a tell?
Date: 14 Mar 2000 00:00:00 GMT
Newsgroups: rec.gambling.poker

I have a nagging feeling everybody is missing the point here. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire was originally never designed as a game show (and the original British copyright holders are still a bit disappointed with Regis hosting it as one).

It's a dream-fairytale-selling TV programme. It's not about "are the contestants smart enough?" but rather "are they brave enough?" It's a fairytale about a fair and courageous prince who came to the king's court to claim half the kingdom and the princess' hand. But, he must face a deadly riddle-spewing beast that will eat him alive if he fails to provide correct answers. The beast is toying with his innermost fears, trying to bring him to his knees while the citizens are watching the contest in the town's amphitheater. It does this by seeding doubt in his heart, trying to get him to defeat himself with his own insecureness. The beast is extremely good at this, as only the pure heart can pass the test, a hero with a clear mind, self-confidence, knowledge and courage.

In short, the show is about drama. It's about watching the contestant struggle with his own fears and uncertainty. The host's job is to shake the tree the contestant is sitting on. He does that by seeding doubt in his mind at the levels 5-8 (while the first levels are strictly warming up and we don't want to lose the guy until he gets some money and starts sweating about it). You'll notice that music changes at the 6th level (a quiet, slow heartbeat in the background, increasing the pitch by half a note on every question). This is the time to casually drop questions like "Are you sure?" "Maybe you want to use a lifeline?...," "Let's think about it some more..."

Please note that the following (and above) applies to the *original* idea of the show, as done by the best Millionaire host of them all (the show is sold to many, many countries, even Slovenia), Chris Tarrant. I have not seen a single Regis show, so I cannot speak about that one. The following remarks are about how the show *should* be done. In some countries the host fucked it up, and the ratings are not there...

At the first few levels, the host should play "the good cop". He should bond with the contestant, give him courage, make him think "Phew, thank Allah this guy is helping me out..." They do the ones levels together, the host is happy to see the guy make his way to the level 6, they are in this together, they are pals, it's not that hard, "Hey, I'm not alone in this...," they are holding hands, they joyfully embrace each other on every correct answer.

But, then comes the 6th level.

Unbeknownst to our hero, the beast hideously switches roles. It becomes "the bad cop." When the hero gives his sixth answer, he gets a look and "Are you sure?"
The bells start ringing in the contestants head. "Gosh, my pal, my buddy, my friend is giving me the look! He is trying to warn me! Careful now!!! Gee, I'm not that sure anymore..."

The beast is shaking the tree. It waits before assuring him of the right answer. The seconds of silence seem like minutes. It's no fun anymore. The mind games have begun. He does not know the beast doesn't even care about the answer. The beast only tries to plant the first seed of doubt. The cracks on the armor are beginning to show.

The hero struggles his way to the level 8 or 9. Now we're talking serious money here. The show producers have smartly insisted on bringing the wife along, she is sitting in the audience at this very moment, scrutinizing the husbands performance. She can't help it; she is spending the money already in her mind. "We can buy a new car with this one, if only the wimp can get it right." She is a nervous wreck. "The idiot will fuck it up for sure, as always."

The contestant is well aware of this and the host doesn't forget to mention his loving wife sitting in the audience. She looks grim on the TV monitor.

"Shit, I'm dead meat if I blow this one, she'll never let me forget it for the rest of my life... Mebbe I should take the money, I'm sure she wants me to... or does she?"

So he changes his mind and picks the other answer, looking at the beasts face for help and clues, only to get a flat stare, a cryptic smile and a "Well, its your choice..."

Panic time.

"Shit, this must be the wrong answer too..." So he opts for a lifeline but the friend at the other end of the phone screws it up real bad, as she didn't understand the question and the 30 seconds fly by to no avail while he tries to explain it to her again...

He takes his chance, swallows hard and picks an answer.

It's the right one!!!

Oh joy, oh happiness!!! The beast is friendly again, they join in a short celebration, there's a pat on the back, champagne popping, there's no stopping them now, they can do it, they are in this together! Time for the good cop routine.

Next question, the bad cop lifts his ugly head again, the good one is nowhere to be found. "I'd look at the question again..." sayz the beast.

On and on it goes until the poor guy loses it, gives in ("I'll take the money...") or fucks up a really easy one...

And the viewers at home are certain now they could do better... It's a dream... It's about "shoutability" (shouting at the TV), it's about seeing people crack under pressure, it's about "I could do better, I could be a millionaire..."


Now my point here is this:

The host does NOT try to help. He toys with contestants. He plays mind games. He provides the drama. He provides the viewers with images of people on the verge of nervous breakdown, images of sweat, dilemmas and indecisiveness, the wives biting their nails, cowards running for cover.

"It's a lot of money... It could change your life..."

It's the drama that's appealing, the sweat, the other people insecureness, the emotions, the suffering... It's NOT about the questions and answers, knowledge and ignorance.
It's about drama.

peterreiss@my-deja.com wrote:
> greatbrit wrote:
> > Does Regis have a tell?
>
> I wouldn't necessarily call this a tell, but there is one aspect of the
> show that seems to have changed, which can give sharp contestants an
> extra chance on the early questions. Regis often doesn't say "Final
> Answer" to the early questions (first 5) when he knows the contestant
> is right (I suppose that is from his knowledge, assuming others are
> correct that he doesn't have the answers in front of him).

The "Final Answer" cue is unnecessary first five levels. The questions are so easy here that there's no need to suck the drama out of the thumb as it simply isn't there. We shall wait till we get to the serious money, let's do this warm-up as fast as possible and get to the juicy part quickly. When the money mark gets high, it'll crack the guy open like a wet pussy. No point in torturing him now, as the questions are really easy. Let's make him falsely comfortable first.

> Since I believe he is required to ask "Final Answer?" before declaring
> a contestant wrong, some inference can be taken when he _does_ ask this
> on one of the first 5 questions. However, I think several things would
> have to be true for this to help:

The host is NOT required to ask anything. "Final answer?" is simply a cue for the production people to push the computer graphics button. It's a message saying "I'm done with him for now, I'll shake his tree some more on the next question. Let's see whether he survived this one, I don't really care if he did..."

> - Contestant slightly unsure of early-question answer (wavering between
> 2 choices).
> - Contestant doesn't want to use a lifeline.
> - Contestant exudes an air of self-assuredness, since I'm sure all
> nervous responses will be followed by the "final answer?" question.
> - Guts.

The host doesn't give shit about whether the answer is right or wrong (except for the first few levels, hey, we don't want to lose the sucker too soon, do we?), he just wants to suck out as much entertainment value out of the poor soul as possible.

His method is simple. He'll usually go the opposite when playing the bad cop. The hero goes "A," the beast goes "B looks good as well...." The hero goes "maybe it's B then," the beast goes "It could as well be A...." The hero goes "Shit, I'm not sure, I'll use a lifeline...," the beast goes "But then you'll only have two left on the *serious* money! Are you sure?..."

Bottom line is, the host is contestants most hideous enemy, posing as a smiling friend. Oh, is he nice and slick! Oh, are we entertained!

--
Izmet Fekali
Burek Experts Ltd.
Catering the World since 1389!
Albania, Slovenia, Europe