ABC's 'Millionaire' Quiz Show Proves Winners Always Cheat

HOLLYWOOD -- ABC's new prime-time game show, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, soared to its highest ratings yet on Tuesday night, and the minds behind the network's surprise hit have revealed the secret to its success: cheating their contestants.

See also...
... by Evan O'Sullivan
... in the Whoa! section
... from August 27, 1999

"We're the only game show on TV where it doesn't matter if you give all the right answers, you can still lose," the show's chuckling executive producer, Michael Davies, told the Hollywood press today.

Davies was referring in part to last week's much publicized episode of Millionaire in which contestant David Honea correctly answered "Lake Huron" to the $64,000 question, "Out of the four Great Lakes, not including Lake Superior, which has the largest area?" The prime-time TV audience watched enthusiastically as host Regis Philbin told Honea he was wrong and that the correct answer was Lake Michigan.

"That's part of the appeal of our show," says Philbin of the incident, "People are getting tired of all these smarty-pants doctoral candidates and turtlenecked Ph.D.s going on Jeopardy! and thinking that just because they give the correct answers, they're going to get a free ride. Real life's not like that. Real life's not fair. You want to see what real life is like: We showed that know-it-all Honea he wasn't so smart, and look at today's Variety! Were a hit!"

Millionaire director Mark Gentile concurs, "We're taking a cue from one of the most popular franchises on TV today ... professional wrestling. Who cares if it's right or if it's real? Who cares if it's fair? People want to see the smart-alecks get clobbered!"

Meanwhile, David Honea is preparing to return as a contestant Sunday night, the final episode in the program's summer run.. Honea is optimistic, he says the show's producers have already taught him a valuable lesson that almost every millionaire has had to learn before they made their first bundle. "If you want to win, you've got to be prepared to cheat."

Evan O'Sullivan works as a freelance writer and video producer. He is best known for his alter-egos, Evan O'Television, a multimedia performance artist/comedian, and Shamus Self-Promotion, an Irish hipster/hypester.