Each week we take a look around our pop culture world and try to find one moment that stood out as the most inspiring. It might be a celebrity who is doing charitable things; a TV shows that inspires us to be better. Here is this week's most inspiring pop culture moment.
In 2002 Meredith Vieira took over the coveted hosting spot from Regis Philbin for the syndicated version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. She came to the gig with a sense of understanding that others might not. After all, Vieira had once been a competitor on the general knowledge game show herself. Just a year before taking the reins from Reeg, the former Today show host competed on the series.
In a recent exclusive interview, Meredith recounted, “When they had a celebrity week with Regis for charity, I was one of the contestants and I was so nervous… And I got physically sick before the game in the green room. So that tells you just how nervous I was and I went on to win $250,000 so I felt vindicated, more so for my charity than for me.”
Even though she was, no doubt, intellectually matched with stars like Kevin Bacon, Paul Rodriguez, Jon Favreau and David Allen Grier, Meredith admitted that she had a hard time getting into the hot seat. “They had that fastest finger element back then and I was terrible at that. So I was one of the last people to even play. They guarantee you to play because you were there for charity.”
When Meredith became the emcee of Millionaire, her prior experience had a profound impact on how she handled the gig. She conceded, “It’s affected me as a host because I know what it feels like to be on the other side. I know what it feels like to be a contestant. I know what it feels like to be on this Plexiglas floor, which is clear, so you feel a little weird as you walk out on it — and the lights and all of that and the sound effects.”
She channels her experience in the way she handles her nervous guests. Meredith acknowledged, “My job, as much as I like to mess with the contestant, my ultimate goal is to make them feel comfortable. That’s why humor is so important. I want them to relax so that they don’t jump into an answer without thinking. I want them to take the time and be comfortable in their own shoes and then they’re going to play the best game possible. The fact that they got on the shown indicates that they have what it takes to become a millionaire.”
To tune in to watch Meredith Vieira put contestants at ease check local listings for the weekday schedule of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire near you.
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