[08/18/08 - 03:54 PM]
'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire' Kicks Off Seventh Season by Introducing New Changes to the Game, Creating New Levels of Excitement, Emotional Drama and Heart-Pounding Tension for Both Viewers and Contestants
Changes include questions played against a clock, updated lifelines and a brand new partnership with Skype, which will enable contestants to "Ask the Expert" for assistance through a face-to-face video call.

[via press release from ABC]

'Who Wants to be a Millionaire' Kicks Off Seventh Season by Introducing New Changes to the Game, Creating New Levels of Excitement, Emotional Drama and Heart-Pounding Tension for Both Viewers and Contestants

Meredith Vieira Helms the Popular Quiz Show, As a Re-Energized 'Millionaire' Premieres This Fall

NEW YORK, Aug. 18 -- "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire," with Emmy Award-winning host Meredith Vieira, kicks off its seventh season in national syndication by announcing new changes to the game, which are guaranteed to keep contestants and viewers on the edges of their seats -- including questions played against a clock, updated lifelines and a brand new partnership with Skype, which will enable contestants to "Ask the Expert" for assistance through a face-to face video call. The format changes will debut this fall, as a re-energized and even more exciting season of "Millionaire" premieres September 8, 2008. Go to http://www.millionairetv.com to find out where "Millionaire" airs in your market.

"Millionaire has been both made over and restored this season," says Michael Davies, executive producer. "We have looked at every element of the show -- the music, the graphics, the questions, the contestants, the lifelines and the overall gameplay -- and figured out how to make them stronger, more contemporary, more relatable and more exciting to the viewer. We've held on to all of the fundamental elements that people love about the brand -- but have built on that, to create the same level of emotion, drama and visual innovation that characterized the introduction of "Millionaire" to the U.S. in 1999."

NEW -- Clock on the Questions

The hot seat will become hotter than ever, as contestants will face a clock with each "Millionaire" question. Contestants will be required to give host Meredith Vieira their "final answer" within a pre-determined time limit that increases as questions become more difficult. If a contestant fails to give an answer before time expires, a buzzer sounds and the contestant will walk away with money they have already earned. The only way a contestant can stop the clock is to give an answer or choose a lifeline. Whatever time a contestant doesn't use for the first 14 questions is banked for use on the million-dollar question.

"After just a few days of taping, we've already noticed how having a clock on the questions, speeds up game play and builds tension-both with the contestants and the audience," says Davies. "The visual clock and this intense ticking sound reinforces the drama, making it that much more exciting."

According to Davies, contestants are allotted 15 seconds for the first five questions (valued at $100 -- $1,000), 30 seconds for the next five questions ($2,000 -- $25,000), 45 seconds for the next four questions ($50,000 -- $500.000), and 45 seconds plus banked time for the final million-dollar question.

NEW Lifeline Lineup

Contestants will be given four lifelines to help them navigate their way up to the one million dollar question -- "Ask The Audience," "Phone A Friend" -- and new for this season -- "Ask The Expert" and "Double Dip."

"Millionaire" has partnered with Skype this season for the new "Ask the Expert" lifeline. Contestants are invited to ask an expert's advice on any question beyond the $1,000 level. Experts appear via a live face-to-face Skype video call and will include newsmakers, journalists, former "Millionaire" contestants, politicians, doctors, professors and trivia champs, among others. Bill Nye appears during the show's first week, airing September 8-12, and Ogi Ogas, a former "Millionaire" contestant who won $500,000, appears during week two, airing September 15-19.

"Millionaire" revives the popular "Double Dip" lifeline, giving contestants two guesses on any question. The lifeline, which replaces the "50-50" lifeline, was first introduced during a special presentation of "Super Millionaire," which aired on ABC Primetime.

Leaving the lineup this year is the "Switch the Question" lifeline.

NEW Look

"Millionaire" adds graphic elements to the show, enhancing the viewing experience and creating a refreshed and modernized look and feel to the show. The "Millionaire Menu" reveals the categories of the contestant's 15 questions -- from "Scary Movies" to "SNL Characters" -- giving home viewers a sneak peek at what's coming up on the show.

The "Phone-a-Friend" lifeline gets a new look, too. When contestants opt for the lifeline, photos, names and hometowns of each of the three "Phone-a-Friend" candidates appear on screen.

"Millionaire" continues to showcase its unmatched blend of pop culture trivia and dynamic entertainment with host Meredith Vieira at the helm. A 33-year television veteran and multiple Emmy Award winner, Vieira brings her enthusiasm and endearing sense of humor to the "Millionaire" stage, guiding contestants through the popular game show's questions, lifelines and final answers. Vieira, the second woman ever to take home an Emmy Award for Outstanding Game Show Host (2005), has hosted more game show episodes than any other female in history.

About "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire"

"Millionaire" is produced by Valleycrest Productions Ltd. and is distributed by Disney-ABC Domestic Television. Michael Davies and Leigh Hampton are executive producers. Meredith Vieira is co-executive producer. The game show is directed by Emmy Award-winning director Matthew Cohen.

About Disney-ABC Domestic Television

Disney-ABC Domestic Television is the domestic distribution arm of The Walt Disney Company, providing motion pictures and television programming to pay television, basic cable, broadcast television, video-on-demand (VOD), pay-per-view (PPV), mobile and broadband. Disney-ABC Domestic Television is a wholly owned subsidiary of Disney Enterprises, Inc.

  [august 2008]  


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