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November 17, 1999 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-11-17

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10 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, November 17, 1999
Regis, 'Millionaire' roll in the money for ABC ratings

LoAngeles Tines
Some key answers on the "Who
Wants to Be a Millionaire" phenome-
non a week into the quiz show's return
- August wasn't a fluke. While some
people remained skeptical after its late
summer premiere versus repeats, the
show is now an undeniable ratings sen-
sation - easily winning its time slot
nightly against original sweeps pro-
gramming, including NBC's vaunted
"Frasier" on Thursday.
Send in the clones - Every network
will try boarding this gravy train, while
ABC has yet to decide how best to ride
the wave, debating whether the show is a
"Hula-Hoop," as some rivals hope.
This is true "appointment" viewing.
Despite its success, the franchise
yields only a marginal "halo effect" -
that is, viewers spilling over into adja-
cent ABC programs. .
White men can answer trivia: The
vast majority of contestants continue
to be white men, with one woman and
no racial minorities thus far finding
their way into the "hot seat" to com-
pete for $1 million.
Clearly, "Millionaire" has been a
wake-up call to the networks and per-
haps even some sitcom and drama pro-
ducers, who - having lost prime-time
real estate to newsmagazines - could
see more hours devoted to game shows,
which share news' advantage of being a
lower-cost programming alternative.

The show is delivering more than 20
million viewers each night -- territory
normally reserved for NBC's top-rated
Thursday lineup - and leading ABC
toward what could be its first "sweeps"
victory since 1994. Moreover, some of
that audience is being wooed back from
cable as opposed to the other networks.
In a display of its power, an hour of
"Millionaire" averaged more than 23
million viewers against NBC's "Must-
See TV" comedies. The second half
outdistanced "Frasier" by nearly 7 mil-
lion viewers, becoming the first ABC
series to beat an NBC Thursday night
sitcom since 1983.
Notably, once those shows ended
more than 4 million people switched to
"Greed," a hastily assembled Fox
knockoff that gave away $1 million in
Thursday's episode. That project greatly
has improved Fox's Thursday ratings
but still drew less than half
"Millionaire's" audience.
With other imitators piling onto the
bandwagon (CBS, NBC and numerous
syndicators are developing their own
quiz concepts), there's fear that removing
the show would invite rivals to cannibal-
ize the franchise; still, ABC has yet to
make a decision what to do with it
beyond November
Executive producer Michael Davies
said he is "prepared to go forward in any
way they want to"-- either as a period-
ic weapon or a series airing once or more

nature of its success. We've basically
been getting everyone - younger,
middle, older, kids."
The producers are hard-pressed to
rectify this because of the blind screen-
ing process, which has people around
the country dial in and answer ques-
tions by phone, offering no means of
"casting" the series, as is done on
game shows such as "Jeopardy!" or
"Wheel of Fortune."
More women are watching than men,
even though the stated intent of broad-
ening the contestant base hasn't materi-
alized. Six shows into the new batch of
episodes, 50 of the 60 contestants have
been men, and only a few have been
What isn't clear is why this is hap-
pening, although there are theories rang-
ing from bias in the questions to men
simply being better at this form of triv-
ial pursuit.
Davies is convinced women are not
calling up in equal numbers. Part of the
problem, he suggested, might be the
requirement contestants clear a two-day
window on short notice to come tape the
show in New York City. "You eliminate
almost every mother of younger chil-
dren out there," he said. "Mothers are
not going to drop everything."
"It may be that you're getting a major-
ity show that hasn't percolated (out) to
the minority audience," added Harry
Pachon, president of the Tomas Rivera

Policy Institute. a thnnk tank alfiLted
with the Claremont Graduate Uninsitv
in Southern (alifoirna.
The overall solune of calls has be en
astounding, w ith 659,00) pourng in
one night. "We're crashing out i
phone system," Davies said.
Although no thnnie minorities hase
had the opportunity yet to play forihe
money, the show has featured gay ni-
testants. Although some viewers tnoted
one gay player's partner in the audience
was not shown rooting for him after stn
initial introduction, as wives and giri-
friends have been.
According to Davies, however, "ike
any of the contestants, we cut to (guests)
when they have a good reaction goi
on. I don't want (gays) to be treated a>
differently when this happens."
The producers' admission hbfItjc
"Millionaire's" new episodes began air-
ing that they hoped to book mbr'
females prompted NBC late-night host
Conan O'Brien to crack; "Apparentl,
most women who want to be million-
aires just marry and divorce Donald
Sure enough, in the rush to copy t
"Millionaire' phenomenon, the joke
could soon have a grain of truth.
Among specials under discussion t
Fox is one tentatively titled "Whd
Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire?, in
which women would vie for the right to
wed a wealthy bachelor.

Courtesy of ABC
Regis Philbin offers a reward for the head of Kathy Lee Gifford In "Millionlare."

per week - but acknowledged his own
preference would be to stick with the
current formula, presenting the show as
a two-week event each sweeps period.
"I know that this works, and it terrifies
me to do anything different," he said.
Like "ER," perhaps the last new pro-
gram to arrive with such ratings fury,
"Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" is a
show people tune in for specifically -
in this case, finding it on different
nights and times.

ABC points to certain series that have
benefited from "Millionaire's" after-
glow, such as Wednesday's live "The
Drew Carey Show," which captured its
biggest audience since early last year;
and "The Practice," which hit a ratings
high on Sunday.
"You can certainly make a case for
'Millionaire' helping the other pro-
grams," said Larry Hyams, ABC's vice
president of audience analysis. "The
key thing is really the broad-based

Does Morality Need God?
A public lecture by
Dr. John Hare
Philosophy professor at Calvin College
And author of The Moral Gap
Date: Thursday, November 18', 1999
Time: 7:30 pm
Place: Rm. 116, Hutchins Hall, School of Law
NE corner of Monroe and State Streets
For more info, see www.campuschapel.org
Sponsored by Campus Chapel Ministries, Graduate Christian Fellowship,
Christian Legal Society, andAdHoc (Christians atSSW)

Stop by Daily Arts Arbmhiyo ho
Arena to hostbriyewsw
at2 p.m. today to £J1( o tban e
pick up free concert- s.
By Christopher Tkaczyk head. songs ever wrtten.
tickets andC s of Daily Arts WriterA series of halluctnations and dreams "A New Brain" never made t
the band All That When Music senior Thomas Foster bring the star of Mr. Bungee's Lily Pad, Broadway last season, but was hailed b
emerged from the Mitzi Newhouse Mr. Bungee himself, to confront critics for its inventive charm. The Mitzi
Theater at Lincoln Center last year, his Schwinn about the quality of songs he's Newhouse is an Off-Broadway venue,
mind was racing with ideas about "A been writing. It becomes Schwinn's and the original production, starring
New Brain"the new musical by William remaining duty to write that one great Chip Zien, Malcom Goetz and liz
Finn he had just applauded. At that song, the life preserving tune that will Larsen, played for nearly four mopths.
moment, he knew he would one day pull him through his coma and illness. The show is so new, in fact, that
want to attempt his own "Brain" This "It's his new lust for life," said Music script this Basement cast has used is
weekend brings those dreams to the senior Todd Buonopane, who portrays first draft, complete with Finn's chicken
stage as Basement Arts welcomes "A Mr. Bungee. "It's about his quest to find scratch corrections, Buonopane said.
Wino $10,000 Shoping Spree New Brain" as part of its fall season. the songs in his heart. He has so many Foster began rehearsals for "A New
http://WinStuff ere.com Directed by Foster, the musical fea- songs to write, and he needs to keep Brain" on Oct. 1, since he wanted to
tures students from the musical theater going to get them down." ensure great performances by a rcady
department. This production of "A New "While he's sick, he can't do the cast. Directing a musical normally take.
Brain" also is important for Foster things he's talented enough to do,"Foster more time than a play. The script and



because it combines the talents of
University friends
and fellow stu-
"I'm finally
A New Brain working on a
Arena Theater show with all of
my colleagues,
Thurs. & Sat. at 7 p.m who are all amaz-
Friday at 7 & 11 p.m. ingly talented,"
Foster said.
"A New Brain"
was inspired by
Finn's battle with
a brain aneurysm,
which found him
in the hospital.
The musical, written in response to
Finn's illness, is also set in a hospital,
after Gordon Schwinn, a composer for a
children's variety show, falls ill from an
aneurysm. Schwinn, portrayed by Foster
in this production, collapses into coma,
and the musical takes place inside his

said. "He wants to leave something
behind to give to everybody"
The depressing subject of brain
surgery might appear to make for a
depressing musical, but such is not the
case with "A New Brain."
"It tells a terrible story in the most
humorous way possible," Buonopane
said. "The music is just wonderful.
There's an underlying since of hope
throughout the whole show. William
Finn's music is its own style of theater."
Finn, who doesn't read or write music,
sits at the piano and tinkers with the
melody until he arrives to the tune he
hears in his head. Then, a music scribe
will transpose the work onto paper for
him."Finn writes the way you speak,'
Foster said. "The rhythm of the words
flow in the same way you speak."
Andre Bishop, Lincoln Center's artis-
tic director, praised Finn's work by call-
ing "Heart and Music"a featured song
in the musical, one of the most beautiful

score for "A New Brain" are quite
demanding, topping out at more than
300 pages.
"It's a fast paced show. Itntakes quit@
bit of organization," said Foster, whose
previous directing credits include pro-
ductions of "Oliver," "Godspell" and
"John and Jen,' a musical writtcn by
University alum Andrew Lippa.
Of "A New Brain," Foster hopes his
production will move the audience vith
its hope for life and survival. "The
nature of the show is uplifting. In the
end, the character is entirely tna
formed. It needs color and brigtnesM
bring it out. This production is very col{
orful Foster said.
Admission to 'A New Brain ' is co nph-
mnentary, but seating will be limited to
less than 100. Musicals in'the
Basement always are forced to turn
away patrons, since the seating [sfirst
comefirst serve. To secure a seat, plan
to arrive early to beat the slo pokes

Five Great Reasons
to Get a Degee
in Pharmacy From
the University of

Outstanding employment
opportunities. (Retail practice is
just one of many career paths
from which to choose.)
2An average base annual salary
of $66,793 for pharmacists with
a PharmD degree - and climb-
ing FAST.
3 You'd be part of a small, yet
diverse student body.
(Only 220 PharmD stu-
dents total.)
4 An exceptional
alumni network. (More
than 3,000 worldwide,
with a high concentra-
tion in leadership posi-
a 5 Consistently ranked
among the nation's top
three colleges of phar-
macy in both US News & World
Report and the Gourman Report.
To learn more about the
Pharmacy Program and the
career opportunities for U-M
Pharmacy graduates, contact
Assistant Dean Valener Perry at
(734) 764-5550; or by e-mail at
vlperry@umich.edu. You can
also visit our Web site at hap:!!
Or visit the College in person at
428 Church St., Ann Arbor.


The Office of New Student Programs
is now recruiting
Summer 2000.
Orientation Leaders
For the New Student and Parent Orientation Programs
Employment Dates: May 22nd - August 9th, 2000.
Compensation: $2700 stipend plus room and board.
Work Schedule:
New Student Program: Leaders work 3 days a week
with early morning through late evening hours. Some
weekend work may be required. ,
Parent Program: Leaders work 4 days a week from
approx. 8 AM - 5 PM.
Eligibility: Must be an enrolled undergraduate student in good
academic standing. Leaders may not be enrolled in classes
during the 2000 Spring and Summer Terms.
Application Process: Interested students can pick up an appli-
cation at any of the Mass Meetings or at the Office of New
Student Programs (3511 Student Activities Building) after
November 15. All applicants must attend a group interview on
January 22, 2000. Selected applicants will have an individual
interview. Final selections will be made by February 16, 2000.
Mass Meetings: November 16 at 6:30 in 3410 Mason, and
November 17 and January 12 at 6:30 in Angell Hall Audito-
rium D. If you are unable to attend a Mass Meeting, feel free
to stop by the Office of New Student Programs (3511 Student
Activities Building) to pick up an application.
Call 764-6413 or e-mail onsp@umich.edu with any further

Applications are due by January 19 at 5FPM.

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