In the Pursuit of Money and Fame 

Boise Weekly's game show wannabe makes another attempt

Who wants to be a millionaire? I do. That's why I sent in an application for a new game show—still in production but now casting—from the creators of the "Regisensational" Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

I really want to be on Deal or No Deal, the greedfest that pretty much guarantees contestants a good chunk of loot as long as they aren't overzealous gamblers, but I found this game instead. It's called Chain Reaction, it's a newfangled version of an old game show, and I'll play as long as it's a quiz show and not an adventure-dare show like Fear Factor because I'm not going to eat pureed worms for any amount of money.

It all started a few weeks ago when I sent in a photo and filled out the preliminary application on the show's Web site. The show requires a three-person, same-sex team, but only my application as the team captain was needed at that juncture.

Later that day I got a response. They wanted me and my teammates to fill out a hefty questionnaire. I crafted my team: Marissa (my sister) and Julia (my friend of 18 years). We each filled out the questionnaire.

Question One: "How do you know your teammates?" Easy. But the queries got more intimate: "What would you do if your teammate got a question wrong and it cost you the game?" My answer: "I'd kill her after the show." Marissa's answer: "It would be Julia to get it wrong, and Jennifer would kill her. Meanwhile I'd just take her new Hermes purse."

Next question: "If I wasn't doing what I'm doing in my life, I'd be ..." Julia said she'd be a stripper, Marissa said she'd be living in Israel, and I said I'd be a meteorologist.

Apparently they liked our answers because a casting assistant named Michael called later that week to say they wanted to set up an audition, which are only on Thursdays through June, so it would be only one of five days. They'd let us know soon, Michael said.

Oooh, oooh, we were excited. We squealed on a three-way phone call and waited on pins and needles for the audition date. Julia lives in Brooklyn, my sister is in Boston and I'm here in Boise, so we needed plenty of warning to all get to the Manhattan studio with ample time to flat-iron our hair.

The next day, I got an e-mail from the casting director. We had a date.

In New York the three of us quizzed each other on the American presidents, on world capitals, on remote pop culture references. We didn't know the premise of the show, and we didn't have a lot of time to juice our brains since Julia's apartment was only six stops from the studio on the L-train.

At the studio, two other teams were already waiting: one team of Dilberts who looked like they strolled in from their offices and a trio of Chatty Cathies.

From the lobby, the nine of us entered a small theater with folded desks mounted to the seats.

Someone explained the game: players fill in blanks to make phrases. Ha! I didn't even need to know that Regina is the capital of Saskatchewan to win this game. Several people didn't get it, though. Julia had a hard time playing by the rules. One of the Cathies said something exhibiting historic/racial ignorance. One of the Dilberts suggested refining the way the game is played because he found it overly complicated. Thankfully, Julia eventually got the concept by the time we all sat to take a timed, individual paper-quiz version of the game.

I knew I got most of the answers—which I can't legally repeat here—correct. But that's nothing. We have to look good on camera, we have to be likeable, relatable, we have to have a good reason as to why we deserve to be on the show. Those are the hardest parts.

They kicked out the other two teams to wait in the hall while they filmed us. Our team name was officially Gelband's Team, since I was the captain, and it may not have been creative but it was direct. (Interestingly, if I were in a rock group, I'd suggest it be the Gel Band.)

Once we were on camera, we all started gabbing in the way the three of us normally do. Julia tells them she was born in Russia; I say we became friends when she taught me to swear in Russian as a kid. The camera guy asked for an example and she unleashed a moderately inappropriate (yet charming) tirade that, when literally translated, instructs him to go sit on a chicken's beak.

We were off to a good start.

They lead us through a mock game. We didn't nail it, but we came close, and besides, I think they'd have been bored with us if we'd gotten everything correct.

In no time, it was over, and I didn't want to leave. I wanted them to promise us a place on the show. I also wanted to just play the game all day, because it's really fun, and I'm better at it than, say ... multivariable calculus.

Back in Boise, I just have to wait patiently for the final say. Frequent Boise Weekly readers may remember that this isn't the first game show audition I've written about. In fact, I've tried out for a lot of game shows. I've never made it to the second round. I've never even made it past the line to get into the studio.

You know how that guy in One Crazy Summer spends the whole summer calling in to a radio show in the hopes of winning a prize on air? I feel like that guy. I have that persistence. And I am going to keep trying out for game shows until I get on one, dammit!

Hopefully making it this far is a sign of change, and when you get suckered into the next hot prime-time game show this summer, you'll wind up watching lil ol' Boise me become a millionaire.

Questions? Comments? E-mail screen@boiseweekly.com.

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