Chicago-area trivia buffs who want to test their mettle for money on TV took a pretest of sorts Friday morning in Naperville as "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" producers rolled in for contestant auditions.
The line was longest early at Hollywood Palms cinema, where more than 200 people participated in a contestant screening in hopes of scoring an interview with a producer and an invite to the show's candidate pool for its 13th season.
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The first group to go through screening shortly after 7 a.m. included roughly 160 people, all of them vying to be on the trivia show that lets contestants phone a friend or ask the audience when they're stumped en route to a potential $1 million prize.
"I skipped work to be here," said Michael Schwartz of Chicago. "I love trivia, I love the show and I wanted the chance to win a million."
"It's something I do every year," Hilde Elg of Glen Ellyn said about the audition. "I love game shows."
Schwartz, Elg and other test-takers such as Landa Midgley of Aurora and her daughter, Siobhan Midgley, were given 10 minutes to complete a 30-question test, which was given "old-school, high school-style" with a pencil and a Scantron form, said Liz Harris, the show's supervising producer.
"The test is set up exactly how you see it on the show," Harris said.
Each question has four possible answers. Choosing one and bubbling it in on the Scantron is equivalent to giving a "final answer" on the show -- minus all the bright lights and TV cameras.
Hopeful contestants who finished with the requisite score -- producers wouldn't say what that score is -- were called by number to return in the afternoon for face-to-face sessions with producers.
"I don't want anyone to feel intimidated about coming out to audition because our million dollar winners in the past have been a teacher, a truck driver, a bartender, so it's really anyone's game," Harris said. "We're not looking for one specific thing. But we are looking for enthusiasm, people who generally love trivia, who've been picking things up along the way and who are really excited about being on the show."
Elg and Schwartz were among those who scored well enough to get an interview with a producer. Harris said candidates chosen to become part of the "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" contestant pool will be notified by email in about two weeks.
The new season of the show will be hosted by Terry Crews and will air on My50 Chicago.