Interview with Peter Bonner of WWTBAM
Toeth: How was the trip on the way getting to New York for the show?
Peter: The trip was great. My wife and I took Amtrak to New York, which is a much more civilized way to travel than either driving or flying: hassle-free. We also were very favorably impressed with the Lucerne Hotel. It had the very comfortable feel of a family-run small European hotel. It also is located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where I used to live, which is a very interesting and convenient neighborhood for a visit to New York.
Toeth: Have you ever done any Game Shows prior to Millionaire?
Peter: No. In fact, I never had considered the possibility until a work colleague, who had been on Jeopardy 16 years ago, mentioned the show to me in late 1999.
Toeth: What do you plan to do with the $32,000 you won?
Peter: On the show I said it would go toward a convertible and playing baseball. If I had won more that might be true. Instead, I told my wife to go ahead and get the outdoor hot tub she has long coveted, and the rest - boringly - will go into a Section 529 college savings fund for my 2 kids. I will, however, probably also buy myself some new catching gear.
Toeth: Will this money help to publish your Eggplant Guide?
Peter: No. That was a very obscure passing remark on the questionnaire they sent subsequent to inviting me on the show. My associate producer was fascinated, however, and therefore it became an absurdly prominent part of my appearance. Hey, it's their show.
Toeth: How was Meredtih as host in your opinion?
Peter: She was very professional and welcoming. I was taping on her first day though, and as a result I think she relied too much on following the scripted parts and the teleprompter. I am hopeful she will become more spontaneous in time.
Toeth: Overall, what was your favorite moment on the show?
Peter: I think it was knowing the $8k and $16k questions cold. I had been very afraid of the questions between $1k and $16k, expecting to have to burn up my lifelines.
Toeth: Is there anything you regret, and if you could, would like to do over?
Peter: Of course that would be my use of the 50-50 after my PAF told me that he was certain of the answer. When the choices came up the only one I thought it almost certainly could not be was Cary Grant. I really really really thought he was too young. So when the first answer came through from Leszek as "Cary Grant" a major claxon went off in my internal alarm system. At some level I heard him say "100%", but the outer space nature of the experience somehow did not let me erase my nagging doubt. (By the way, did I mention I'm an idiot?). Fear took over. I am fundamentally very risk-averse. Meanwhile, it was almost like I had a Gregorian chant going off in my head: "Cary Grant is too young. Cary Grant is too young." Add that to my fear of not reaching 32k (or rather my pre-determined definition of success as achieving 32k), and I completely unnecessarily burned my 50-50.
Anyway, I'm not going to beat myself up (at least not too much). First, because there is absolutely no point. Second, I doubt that even with the 50-50 I would have gotten my 64k question. I have never ever thought of AARP as a service organization. To me, AARP has always been of and for its membership. That motto, which I had never heard before, connoted to me some concept of service to an external constituency. I know the "not be served" part could possibly have been used to deduce the right answer, but that would not have overcome my perception of AARP as more an advocacy organization for the 50-and-over set. The 50-50 is random. If it had been AARP and Salvation Army I would have gone straight to the wrong answer. If AARP and Red Cross had remained, I tend to think I would have made the same mistake. Maybe not, because I had a vague (incorrect) sense that the word "hope" appears in the Red Cross motto. But in any event not sure what I would have done. If it had come up AARP and NAACP then I would have stopped in my tracks, because I really didn't think it could be either. Under that one 50-50 I think I would have gotten it right. But hey, no whining. All I wanted was a shot, and I got one. I had a great time and a huge amount of fun in New York. And $32k beats a sharp stick in the eye.
Toeth: What are your thoughts on harder Questions, and no "Fastest Finger" for this new version?
Peter: For me, the harder question format is better. The "Fastest Finger" is a pressure-cooker crap shoot. I would much rather take my chances with hard questions than poking a touch-pad with my thumbs.
Toeth: If you had the choice, ABC calls you to ask which version of Millionaire you would rather do. Choices are Primetime Millionaire, and Syndicated. Primetime has a Fastest Finger, Regis, and easier Questions. On the other hand, Syndicated Millionaire has no "Fastest Finger" guaranteed Hotseat, Meredith, but harder Questions. Which would you choose and why?
Peter: Again, as a player I would prefer the current format. I tend to do pretty well with the higher-value hard questions. I also think as a viewer I prefer watching harder questions. I couldn't stand the infantile questions between 0 and $1,000 on the primetime show. I like watching the show more for the difficult questions than for the theatrics of the Fastest Finger result. I am not, however, representative; I think I am the only person I know who could not stand Regis as a host.
Interview conducted 9/20/02.