My Father and Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
My father was a huge fan of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. I mean, he LOVED everything about it: the questions, the contestants who came on the show, Regis Philban and the life-lines.
I think he loved the theater of it and the humanity; the suspense, the drama, the real life being lived out on the tiny screen.
He loved: "Is that your final answer?"
My father was a high/low culture kind of guy. He was equally intense about an opera at the Met, a show of paintings at MOMA, a day at the races, American Idol or a book about Wittgenstein.
It was fun when he became obsessed with something on TV like Millionaire or American Idol. He’d call during a commercial break, "Are you watching?"
And he always like to test his own knowledge. So that was also a draw.
I thought of him last night watching Slumdog Millionaire, which we saw at a friend’s house. (Yup, we’ve got friends in high places who get copies of first-run films).
Slumdog is about a contestant on the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire and it’s an incredibly colorful film that manages to be simultaneously depressing (poverty, abandonment and cruelty) and feel-good in a mesmerizing, Bollywood way.
Last night, I was reminded of the time my dad was a contestant on the Who What or Where Game, a daytime NBC game show that was on in the 1970′s after Jeopardy.
That may well have been one of the most exciting times of childhood. He was on for three consecutive days and as far as I was concerned he was the smartest man in the world.
I remember when he came home after acing the test required to be on the show. And the way he studied the World Almanac for weeks in preparation.
We were devastated when he got an important question wrong on his third appearance and didn’t win the car. He did come home with $2000 dollars and lots of weird give-a-way dry skin products.
I will never forget that time and the sense of excitement that was in there air.
Slumdog Millionaire is an incredible movie that I urge you to see even if your dad was never on a game show.