ABC is bringing back Regis Philbin for an 11-night tenth anniversary “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire” extravaganza August 9 to August 23, Sundays through Thursdays.
It’s hard to believe but it’s been nearly 10 years since the British import came out of nowhere in August of 1999 as a fill-in summer show for ABC and take the country by storm. Phrases such as “I need a lifeline” and “Is that your final answer?” turned into instant pop culture nuggets. Regis, already a popular morning talk show host, became HUGE. Heck, I tried out for the show via phone at least 130 times. I got past the first round at least 30 times but never won the lottery to get to the second round.
For a few months, the show would easily surpass 30 million viewers per show. ABC began airing it up to four times a week, spawning copycat shows such as “Greed” on Fox. Then almost as quickly, people got tired of it. By 2002, the show disappeared from primetime.
The show never really went away. Meredith Vieira hosts the syndicated version, which does well but nowhere near as well as “Wheel of Fortune” or “Jeopardy.” And Oscar winner “Slumdog Millionaire” uses the show as part of its plotline.