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A 2nd Interview with

Dr. Kevin Olmstead

$2,180,000 Winner and Super Millionaire Wise Man

  • GSI: First off, thanks for agreeing to do another interview, it's great to hear from you again.
    Most recently, you've returned to the new Millionaire, now called Super Millionaire as one of the Wise Men. How did you first find out that you would become one of the Wise Men? Did ABC just call you out of the blue?

  • Kevin: The call was expected, since they were setting up to have past winners on the panels.  They first call to establish availability, then try to book folks as they can manage.

  • GSI: Is it harder trying to win money for yourself or a contestant? In this case, a contestant who could ultimately be playing for $10,000,000.

  • Kevin: We want to do well by the contestants, if there were actually anybody who were to be going for $10M.  As it is, as far as I recall, the Wise Men have been used immediately (going for $500K) or maybe for $1M.  Only one person has SEEN the $2.5M question, and he walked away with his $1M.    We answer what we know (or think we know), that's all there is too it---it's up to the contestant to make the final determination of what to do with our guesses.  

  • GSI: It seems Regis had some fun joking around about how concealed and creepy the Wise Men's room was. Can you tell us anything about it? Was it really that high of security? I understand you couldn't see the taping in progress until you were actually called on for help. Is that correct?

  • Kevin: The Wise Men studio is in a separate building from where the main studio is.   There's essentially a little crew that does the Wise Man stuff---a couple camera operators, a sound person, a director, and a producer.  The security is standard for studios nowadays.   We get to the studio, get made-up and seats set up, then the director of the Wise Man unit is told from the overall director when we have to be in our seats for a shot, either with the "shroud of mystery" (background lights only) or coming to us to reveal us (full lighting). We can see all the taping until someone gets to $100,000, then the monitors are turned off as we are "sequestered" until used (which so far has been almost immediately).   If someone were to use us and actually get it right, I assume we'd get to watch the show going forward.

  • GSI: Were you able to see the Millionaire set? Or even reunite with Regis and meet any of the contestants before the show?

  • Kevin: I didn't actually get up to the regular set.   Regis comes by and says "hi" to the Wise Men.   There's no way they'd let the contestants meet the Wise Men before the show. 

  • GSI: Many people have been anxiously awaiting another installment of Super Millionaire. Assuming you would be one of the first to know with your involvement with the show, do you think there is a chance of it returning sometime in the near future?

  • Kevin: ABC is doing this pretty much as a "sweeps" event, which is probably the right thing to do.  The next sweeps period is November, but nothing has been announced, and November would be tricky for several reasons:  there's Thanksgiving, it's still maybe a little early to give up on regular fall shows, and oh, yeah, there's an election this year.   A prediction I heard at the Game Show Congress was February and/or May 2005, and I can believe that.  

  • GSI: Alot of game show buzz has surrounded Jeopardy! ever since Ken Jennings started his super impressive reign. What are some of your thoughts about this? Do you think the reinstated fame of Jeopardy! could possibly pump new life into the simple trivia genre that most major television networks have seem to forgotten compared to a few years ago

  • Kevin: Ken is absolutely amazing with his run, and one would like to believe that some people will sit up and take notice.   I'm not betting on it, unless viewership stays up for several months AFTER Ken's run is done.  If it does so, then maybe networks will think about something.   Unfortunately, the way things go, they'd be likely to rush out shows that have structural/other problems or that won't appeal to desired demographics. 

  • GSI: At the time of this interview, Ken has racked up $1,321,660 on Jeopardy!. I must ask, at Ken's current rate, do you think it's possible that Ken could eventually eclipse your all-time record of $2,180,000?

  • Kevin: Oh, it's quite possible for Ken to pass me. If that happens, it couldn't happen to a nicer guy, and maybe Sony will be able to knock some sense into Guinness (who has never gotten my record right in print, and has botched links on their website.  At least I'll still have the network record, unless something else happens. 

  • GSI: You mentioned in our first interview that you had appeared on Jeopardy! in 1994, since then, the show has undergone many minor and major changes, including the newly added and even somewhat controversial "sky's the limit" rule. Do you feel like it's remained the same show over the years since you first appeared on it?

  • Kevin: Sure, it's the same show---it comes down to three players answering questions in categories.  They've tweaked how some questions are asked (i.e., the "Clue Crew"), they've increased the money amounts, and they allow someone to keep coming back as long as they win, but that doesn't change the fundamental game.   Some people claim there's more "pop culture" material---maybe a bit, but I venture that it probably evens out eventually.

  • GSI: I understand you were at Game Show Congress recently, can you tell me a little about what went on this year? I heard it was one of the best yet.

  • Kevin: The Game Show Congress 3 happened on August 15, 2004.   There were games played (a home game tournament with the winning teams getting first crack at Mike Burger's Game Show Round) and a game for top winners playing a bunch of questions, as well as some seminars and an industry panel discussion.  THE highlight of the Congress, however, was the luncheon honoring Ralph Edwards and Bill Cullen, in which lifetime service/achievement awards were inaugurated in their names.   This brought out an array of "legends" to speak in tribute to Ralph and Bill, including Jack Narz, Tom Kennedy, Bob Barker, Jayne Meadows, Betty White, Dick Clark, and Bob Stewart.  The whole time was magical.    Plans are now being made for GSC 4, likely again in the L.A. area in mid-August 2005. 

GSI: Thanks for doing this interview and sharing your views. It's been a real pleasure.

Kevin: Thank you for your interest.

Interview conducted Aug, 23, 2004.