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 Post subject: Audition Advice
PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 5:00 am 
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Audition season is fast approaching. Every year, newbies want to know about the process, and even seasoned auditioners look for tips to improve their performance. I thought folks should have a complete guide to auditioning for Millionaire. There's certainly lots of things I wished I'd known earlier.

I'd like to express my deep gratitude to the volunteers who contributed and greatly improved this writeup. I'd also like to thank all the folks on the Bored, for the fun, great information, and help I've received over the years.

Due to the length of this information, I'll break it up into several posts in this thread. I'm looking forward to everyone's comments, additions, and even the corrections. Since I want this to represent the collective wisdom of the Bored, I'd ask the Moderators to feel free to help edit as needed.

If you would like to help with some additional writeups, I've got Google Docs drafts of ones on New York, Happy Card arrival to The Call, and Taping Millionaire. I'm looking for anyone who could help add information and/or assist with the editing. Just email me, and when I add you to the access list, you'll get an email with a link to the documents.


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 Post subject: Re: Audition Advice
PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 5:03 am 
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You’re considering auditioning for Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Congratulations, you’ve come to the right place for information that’ll have you more prepared for the process than the average person waiting in line.

Can You or Can't You?
First, check the show rules (especially the eligibility rules) at http://www.millionairetv.com/rules.html to get an idea of what to expect. If you’re not eligible, don’t waste your time. For example, if you are under 18, or you or a family member works for a company involved with the show in some way, you would not be eligible. The rules contain lots of formal, legal information that covers just about every aspect of the show.

Should You or Shouldn't You?
Should you even bother auditioning? Auditioning can be lots of fun and highly rewarding; however, you should audition only if you can afford the time and money. You will not be reimbursed for your expenses, either for auditioning or for your appearance on the show. And taxes take a large chunk out of any winnings. It’s an incredible adventure, but less than 1% of the people who try out each year appear on the show.

To keep your expectations real, you need to know that historically, 3% of players walk away with nothing, 32% win $1,000, and 30% of contestants win from $2,000 to $16,000 (Please notice that 65%, a large majority of contestants, will leave with zero to $16,000!) 18.8% win $25,000, and 11.2% win $50,000. Only 4% win over $50,000 (and since you’ve read the rules, you already know that the really big prizes are paid in part with annuities). It’s nice to dream of riches, but you’re much more likely to win enough to pay for your trip to the taping and maybe afford a smaller splurge.

You have roughly a 1% chance of making the show when you audition, assuming a random selection. Since the selection process is not random, you can improve your chances with a bit of effort. Your chance of getting on the show by sitting at home and not auditioning is exactly zero. The next question is, How well do you perform at home while watching the show? Are you consistently performing the same as or better than the contestants on the show? The first hurdle on audition day is a trivia test, so you need to be able to pass if you expect to appear on the show.

You Should, Now What?
The http://www.millionairetv.com web site is the place to go for audition announcements and to sign up for auditions, audience tickets, and even contests. TPTB [“The Powers That Be”—Bored lingo for the folks running the show] announced the 2008 audition season on April 14th, with the auditions starting April 28th and running into July. The 2008 Millionaire auditions in New York City were held mostly Monday through Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m. at the ABC Studio, 57 West 66th Street, in the ABC cafeteria. The dates, times, and locations have changed over the years, so check the web site for the latest information.

Auditions are also held on days when they're taping the show. The web site asks whether you want to audition when you request tickets. A WAG [Wild-A** Guess] at the number of slots for the audience auditions is roughly 33. Some people do make it onto the show from the audience, and Meredith typically includes that fact in the banter. Most of the successful audience auditioners seemed to be local folks, and we’ve heard of a few called with short notice. They’re most likely to use these as a way to fill in if they’re running short. Having auditions gives the audience something to do, so it’s a draw to get folks to show up for tapings. If you've never seen how a television show is created, it's worth the trip to NYC. It's fascinating to see all the things that go on behind what you see on your set.

There usually are Road auditions in a few cities each year. These auditions are announced on the http://www.millionairetv.com web site, usually after the New York auditions have been going for a few weeks. In 2008, these cities were: Sacramento 6/23, Las Vegas 6/25, Atlanta 6/27, Minneapolis 8/11, Detroit 8/13, and Washington, DC 8/15. In a new twist for 2008, written testing is 7–11 a,m., with afternoon interviews. Most folks advise showing up 1-2 hours before tests start, because the crowds can be quite large. The turnout can vary wildly however, depending on the local advertising. Some cities have had virtually no lines after the initial group, other cities have had long lines all day running a 2–3 hour wait, minimum. Showing up early also lets you catch TPTB while they’re more rested and relaxed as well.

When Should I Audition?
There are theories favoring both early and later attempts at auditioning. People who make the Contestant Pool before taping begins could be selected for any show during the entire season. People who qualify later could be fresher in the minds of TPTB. Your travel expenses might also figure into where you’ll want to audition.

Some folks think that it could be good to skip the first week of auditions while TPTB work the kinks out of the new tests, staff members, and system. There’s also the possibility that the first week gets more hard-core auditioners, so your competition may be stiffer. Some people do make the show from those early auditions though.

One of the best times for your audition in New York appears to be early in the process, in the first three weeks or so. If you wait for the last week of the audience auditions, all the slots for the season are probably filled, and the best you can do is hope they remember you in six months for the next season. Even if you think your story is unique, still be first. You could be a yodeling, unicycle riding juggler, but if they’ve already selected one of those for the season, then you’re probably out of luck. Go early, and be the first one they see. The second best shot seems to be from the Road auditions.

TPTB normally announce four weeks of auditions at a time on the Millionaire web site. Sign up for your preferred audition date and second choice. Double-check all your contact information before submitting the form. The sign-ups appear to be first come, first served. It takes about a day to get the confirmation reply email. The email will contain lots of information, including the audition address, date and time (there are usually three audition sessions each day), forms, and a questionnaire. They usually do the tests in New York City 4 days a week, for a couple of months.

Whatever you decide, don’t wait too long or the sessions fill up.

Where Should I Audition?
If you’re from outside the New York area, you could wait for the Road auditions, but you may stand out more if you’re able to come to the Big Apple. On the other hand, the Bored statistics indicate a Road audition interview could be fresher in the minds of TPTB, making it more likely you’ll get called to tape. (gsabc: But don't necessarily wait for them to come to you, especially if you're nowhere near a big city, or even if you are! The last audition in the Boston area was in 2001! Take a vacation to NYC, see a Broadway show, play tourist for a few days, and oh, since you're in the area. attend a WWTBAM taping and audition. You auditioned on a lark, right? :-D ) (Catfish: You may stand out, but stand out in a bad way. I think it may be better to have, or appear to have, a reason besides a BAM aud for being in NYC.)

A WAG is that each Road audition city probably gets roughly 10–12 contestant slots (out of 2,500 maximum auditioners). Because Road auditions are promotions for local affiliates, you may have a hometown advantage at a Road audition in your own viewing area. You also will feel more comfortable on your own turf. (Catfish: You also have the advantage of being fresh and alert while TPTB feel like crap from traveling. You will gain points if you can make them feel less crappy and crabby.) Good out-of-area auditioners do get selected though.

If cost is a limiting factor, there is an adventurous alternative. It’s possible to do an audition in New York for not much more than the cost of transportation, which can be reasonable. It might involve a bus ride instead of flying first class, or sleeping elsewhere than a four-star hotel (like at the airport), but it can be done if you’re motivated. (mikehardware: That’s how I pulled off auditions while I was almost broke. I’m working up a section on New York, to help folks not familiar with the city figure out transportation, restaurants, hotels, etc.)

The procedures for Road auditions are similar to what happens in New York, with just a few adjustments. No sign-up is necessary, just show up at the right place and time. The limit is 2,500 people according to the official rules. Be prepared for waiting outdoors. Typically, they’ll let in big groups at one time, so the line will move, then wait again. The locations and test conditions vary depending on the location. They basically need a place with lots of parking, space for a long line, and a big room. You may get to sit at a table, or you could wind up in a folding chair balancing the test on your lap. They’ve been doing both the regular and theme tests, such as for movie week, so you may be taking two tests, which should take roughly 45 minutes total. (mikehardware: The last time I did a Road audition, the number you write on your card (and listen for) was written on the back of the souvenir magnet TPTB handed you as you walk into the audition test room.) Test takers who pass will be announced in three groups: for both tests, movie test only, and regular test only, so listen carefully. In 2008, if you passed, you were given the audition paperwork and questionnaire and asked to come back at a set time in the afternoon (12:30–4 p.m.) for your interview. TPTB also do the second taped interviews at the Road and audience auditions.

Themed Shows
Every year, TPTB schedule some special themed weeks. For 2008, these included: movies, engaged couples, people with famous names, Halloween, and three generations. Check the web site for details, since special rules and audition dates can apply to them. TPTB need only 7–9 contestants for each of these weeks, so it’ll probably be more difficult to get on those than on regular shows. If they happen to hit on a specialty of yours, go for it. There have also been weeks with special guest hosts, to give Meredith Vieira a bit of a schedule break.

If you pass both the regular and movie tests, you only get one interview, and typically get asked which show you would want to be on. (mikehardware: Since I only wanted to be on the regular shows, I have flunked the movie test on purpose. That let me avoid unwanted questions about my movie skills. I’ve also intentionally left one blank on the regular test when I was absolutely certain I would have had a perfect score, since perfection could also attract unwanted attention. Keep in mind that TPTB may not want to blow the show’s budget by casting a bunch of trivia geeks.)


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 Post subject: Re: Audition Advice
PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 5:05 am 
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Getting Ready

What Do I Do with These Fleebin' Forms?
The paperwork changes slightly year to year. Typically, there’s one page for your contact information, another to check your eligibility, and a questionnaire. The questions may seem a bit weird, but it’s how TPTB get to know your personality and telegenicity. Make sure to triple-check the phone numbers for contacting you. It’s important to have an answering machine or voice mail, in case TPTB call while you’re out. For tape date auditions, you may not get the forms ahead of time. (Don’t staple or clip your paperwork sheets together.) Check the Bored for the questionnaire questions from earlier years, and see if someone has posted them for the current year. It definitely helps to have your answers prepared before arrival.

How much should you write on your questionnaire? One school of thought is to keep things short and neat, to make it more likely that the interviewer could scan your answers quickly. Of course, that doesn’t leave much extra for them to peruse later on. Other folks choose to write more on their questionnaires, and even highlight or decorate them a bit to draw attention to certain answers. It would depend on what goes best with your personality and stories. Additional short teasers might be good, but long, drawn out stories probably would not be useful. (mikehardware: I hand wrote my answers, since I print very neatly. I also wrote a few drafts first, to get things to fit properly. I did use a word processor to fill in the form once, and that drew a comment from TPTB, but I felt that was perceived as a bit overly prepared.)

Work on your presentation. Keep your anecdotes short. Use intriguing headlines on the form, and take less than 10 seconds to tell it without being brusque. You want TPTB to be so fascinated they will keep asking questions. They see tens of thousands of potential contestants each year and hear the same stories over and over. Come up with something unique about yourself, or at least in the way you present your stories. In the past, TPTB sometimes put up a short description of a contestant, like “Breakdancing Accountant” or “Skydiving Plumber.” What short description of you would you condense your story down into? (mikehardware: I’d be something like “Family Nerd.”)

Should I Study the Show Transcripts?
Transcripts are posted on the Bored, and there are collections of transcripts in spreadsheet form available for all the versions and seasons of the show. Some folks think studying helps in passing the written test. It certainly helps give an idea of the types of questions you can expect to encounter on the show. It’s a fairly difficult test (about 20% pass), but many people feel that passing the written test is much easier than the interview part of the audition. The Bored does not condone cheating, so do not post actual test questions. Many if not all of the questions on the test are from previous shows and from the middle tier ($1,000 to $25,000), but some may be from shows taped in the current year and haven't been broadcast yet. Don't stress about it too much. If you've been doing well while watching, you should do fine on the test.

What Do I Wear?
The stated dress code for the auditions is casual, so dress neatly but comfortably. You’ll be waiting outside, so watch out for the weather. Just be yourself and natural. (mikehardware: Since I’m from Alabama, I wore my good blue jeans and flannel shirt, my normal attire at home. If that helped me stand out in the crowd, that’s OK, but you probably don’t want to dress just to draw attention.) People attending tapings are instructed to wear dark clothing, so that you won't stand out in the background by glowing in reflected stage lighting. Pay attention to this! One thing TPTB want to see is if you can follow instructions.

Millionaire really seems to try to get a wide variety of ordinary people on the show, especially compared to the contestants on other games, like Jeopardy! or Wheel of Fortune. Keep in mind that TV is a visual medium, so it probably wouldn’t hurt your chances if you looked your best, but there’s no need to go to extremes. Could you dress so that TPTB can just imagine you in the hotseat? If you’re going to start a diet for health reasons anyway, then looking better for an audition is just a bonus. (mikehardware: I’ve even used Crest Premium White Strips on my teeth the week before an audition, and that actually boosted my confidence and made me feel good.)

How Do I Practice for the Interview?
You might consider video taping yourself, to see how you really look and sound while practicing for your interview. That can be handy for getting rid of any nervous fidgeting or sloppy verbal habits. (“Like, ummm… you, ummm, ever notice, like, how people, ummm… you know, who talk that way don’t appear on the show?”) Watch your body language. You should appear excited (but in control), happy, confident and relaxed. Practicing your answers can help you master your interview skills, but you definitely want to appear natural, not scripted or robotic.

The selection process is somewhat subjective once you get past the written test. TPTB must try to be consistent, but it’s human nature to have specific likes and dislikes. Try out your stories on several other people, to get an honest critique of how they come across. (Hint: Several folks on the Bored are great at this.) Be aware of any possible negative interpretations of your stories. (mikehardware: For example, one of my early audition stories was a nostalgic tale about my family driving across the country when I was a kid in the 1960s. To young New Yorkers, no seat belts and sleeping in a car trunk might sound like child abuse instead.) Your presentation is probably much more important than your actual story, but it can’t hurt to have a great story as well.

How Do I Get There?
(mikehardware: I'm working on a draft of New York information to help folks get around.)

If you arrive more than an hour early for an NYC audition, there are some good places to wait in the neighborhood. There’s a large and very good Barnes & Noble bookstore across the street from ABC, at 66th and Broadway, right in front of the Lincoln Center subway stop. CDs and DVDs are in the basement. Restrooms are on the third floor and on the fourth floor near the snack area. (Important note: There are no restrooms available at the non-tape-date auditions!) The snack area is good place to sit and relax before the audition, and maybe enjoy a cookie. Other folks recommend a Starbucks around the corner from the studio at 152 Columbus Avenue. If the day is nice, there's the small Richard Tucker park near the Barnes & Noble and Lincoln Center, with some chairs and tables available for pre-audition relaxing.


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 Post subject: Re: Audition Advice
PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 5:07 am 
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Audition Day

Getting In
On your audition day, simply show up at the appointed place with your audition paperwork and a photo ID (a driver’s license is OK) about 45 minutes to an hour before your test time. The line will probably have just started by then. (Tape date auditioners are told how early to show up for their tryout. Add another 20 minutes to that, because the line will start forming early.) Why so early? If you’re looking for people who will be enthusiastic and on time when they tape your show, would you be more likely to pick someone who shows up early, or just shows up right before the doors close? It also gives you more time to interact with TPTB and the folks around you.

While waiting, be outgoing and take advantage of every opportunity. Some folks are just naturally outgoing, but the rest can learn, if they’re willing. You’re being watched while you’re standing in line (one of the reasons for showing up early), and when you sit down for the test. When you get called up and you’re asked, “How are you?” most people probably just say “Fine” and leave it at that. Do something different! You can take advantage of your opportunity to grab their attention and set the interview tone. (gsabc: The specifics for tape date auditions are a little different than those done before they start taping for the season. See below.)

Someone from the show will come by to check your ID and cross you off the master attendance list. (Hint: Smile, be nice and chat with them!) Roughly 10–15 minutes before the scheduled test time, they’ll start to let the group into the building for a security screening. They look through bags and pass you through a metal detector, so travel light. You’ll then receive a manila envelope (with a card clipped to it) from a staffer, and be directed to sit at a table. (gsabc: If you're there on a taping date, you'll get to go inside the studio about 45–60 minutes ahead of those who aren't auditioning. If you're with someone who isn't, that person won't be allowed in with you. The APs [Associate Producers] are usually accommodating in getting you together again afterwards.)

Walk-ins have been allowed to audition if space permits, but there’s no guarantee you’ll get in. It seems to be fairly common. If you really want to try that, get there early and ask the staff member nicely if you can audition. Expect to wait a long time in a separate line until all the registered folks go in and the staff can determine whether there’s room for you. Don’t argue if you’re not allowed in—it’s not the staff’s fault. (gsabc: This worked for me. I never got the card that would serve as my ticket into the taping. I did print out the auto-response to the ticket request and showed it to one of the APs handling the line. Be polite. It might have helped that I was schlepping a small suitcase, since I was squeezing in the audition and taping between two legs of some business travel. That's not recommended.)

You're Inside: Now What?
Be talkative while waiting and sitting around, since TPTB are looking for personality. (mikehardware: When they ordered everyone up against the wall, I assumed the COPS position – hands on wall, feet spread. That drew a comment from one of them.)

Once everyone is through security and seated, TPTB quickly go over the procedures. There are pencils on the table, and you’ll have that large envelope with a number on it and an answer card. It’s important to keep track of your test packet number, since that’s what they’ll call out for the passers. (Hints: Write the number down on a scrap of paper and put it in your pocket so you don’t forget. Also check your pencil before the test starts to make sure the point isn’t broken.) Listen closely and follow the directions exactly! You never know when they might change some procedures, so in case of a conflict, follow their instructions, not these. (gsabc: Tape date auditioners get to sit in the audience seating, which is tiers of benches around the stage. Just what you see on TV! This is where you'll end up to watch the taping as well. Get comfy. You'll be in place for a while.)

The Test
You’ll write your name and number on the computer answer card. When they give the OK to start, you can take the test out of the envelope. Do not write on the test itself, only the answer card. Just fill in the spot for the correct answer on the card, just as you did on the standardized tests you took in school. You’ll have 10 minutes to complete a 30-question multiple-choice test. TPTB will announce when there’s 5 minutes left and when there’s 1 minute left.

Test Tips! The numbers on the test go across, then down, then on to the back of the sheet. Since the test is double-sided, make sure you’re starting with question number 1, not number 16. Answering 30 questions in 10 minutes lets you take 20 seconds per question. That’s plenty of time, so don’t panic. If you don’t know one, you can skip it and come back to it later. Make sure to correctly match up the question numbers on the card and the test. It’s also OK to guess! You’ve got a 1 in 4 chance of getting it right, and leaving it blank counts as a wrong answer. If you must erase, do it completely. If you have time, double-check your answers. There are reportedly several versions of the tests, apparently to discourage people from repeatedly taking the test until they can memorize enough questions to pass. (There are rules that you can only audition once per day, and that TPTB can limit your number of audition attempts. Don’t be a pain by showing up every day!)

Once TPTB call time, you put down the pencil, and follow TPTB’s directions to hand in your answer card, and to put the test back in the envelope. The tests and cards are quickly collected and taken to be scanned and graded. TPTB will never reveal the passing score, but it’s believed to be approximately 25 out of 30. You will not get to know your score (other than if you passed or not). Overall, roughly 20% of potential contestants pass the 30 question multiple choice test. The passing rate in different audition groups varies.

When the test is over, expect everyone at your table or around you in the stands to start talking about it, like “What was the answer for the question about …?” For the few minutes it takes to grade the tests, TPTB generally have a short question and answer period and maybe a t-shirt give-away. Among TPTB instructions is that only test passers will get a postcard in 2–3 weeks to let them know their status. On the Bored, these are known as the Sad Card (thanks for trying) and Happy Card (Congratulations, you’re in the Contestant Pool). You usually get to keep your Millionaire pencil and a magnet as souvenirs, so store them away. This is the time to pop in a breath mint and comb your hair in preparation for the next steps. (gsabc: On tape dates, this is also when they bring in the rest of the audience and the warm-up comic starts doing his thing. He's very good and I recommend going to see his regular show in the NYC area.)

TPTB will then call out the passing numbers (not names), and the written test passers are directed to go to the other side of the cafeteria. Listen closely, since the numbers are not in order. (It’s just whatever order they picked up the cards.) The non-passers will exit after all the numbers have been called. Since you’ve passed, after they call your number, pick up your belongings, and on your way over you’ll quickly have a Polaroid photo taken (Hint: Stand up straight and smile! It’s a photo of your face to go with your paperwork.) Then you’ll be told to sit at a table near the far end of the cafeteria from where you took the written test. After a few minutes to set out pencils and magnets, TPTB will start letting the next group into the cafeteria to take their written test. (gsabc: For tape date auditions, they call out the numbers between shows, before the last one being taped in your session. Be enthusiastic when (not if!) they call your number! Remember they're watching you. After the last show is taped, the non-passers and the rest of the audience will be led out, and you'll go down to the stage area for your photo and interview.)

Quickly take a few deep breaths, relax, and focus. TPTB will interview all the passers very quickly (about 15 minutes) so they will be ready for the next test group.


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 Post subject: Re: Audition Advice
PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 5:10 am 
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The Interview
Have your photo and audition application paperwork handy, and you can leave your other belongings on the table while you interview. Four or five APs will be conducting interviews close to one another along a wall, so it can get a bit noisy with many people talking at the same time. You’ll get called up by name. (There appears to be no particular order to who gets called up when.) On tape dates, at least the ones between the day's two taping sessions, things are more hectic. One audience is filing out, and another is coming in, people are cleaning up the set and the seats, they're taping promos with the contestants. It's noisy and can be greatly distracting.

As you walk up to your interviewer, be happy and excited! Your interviewer will take your application paperwork and photo, may or may not look at it, and will chat with you briefly. Individual interviews are very quick, usually 1–3 minutes! You can expect a greeting and a few rapid questions. Be prepared for sudden shifts in subject. You may not get to elaborate your carefully crafted replies as much as you would like, so get to the point quickly. The questions may or may not be from the questionnaire. Stay focused on your AP, and speak loudly enough to be heard clearly over the surrounding din.

Think of the interview as speed dating! TPTB have lots of experience doing interviews, and can easily size up someone quickly. You want to give them a good first impression and be memorable (in a good way).

In a new procedure for 2008, if your first interview goes well, they’ll hand you a short legal form to fill in (authorizing the taping) and you’ll have a second interview on camera. About a third of the written test passers got the second interview. The second interview is similar to the first, just with the camera and a different (senior) staffer. You’ll go to another table to fill out that form and wait for the person to call you up. Their instructions are to look into the camera and state your name, and then ignore the camera for the rest of the interview. After the interview(s), you can grab your belongings and exit.

Why the camera and the instruction to ignore it? They want to see if you can take direction and whether you can focus on the task at hand rather than the business of making television. Does the camera make you nervous? If you’re going to be on the show, it shouldn’t, so relax. They want contestants interacting with Meredith, not looking around for a lens. It also gives them something to show to others be in the decision-making process and to review when selecting contestants from the pool.

In their instructions, TPTB stress that getting the second taped interview does not equal getting in the contestant pool, and that people can make the pool without the second interview. That may be accurate, but The Bored does not have any independent confirmation. The Bored’s sample size is relatively small, but although not everyone who had a second interview got a Happy Card, everyone in the 2008–2009 pool who announced getting a Happy Card also had a second interview.

It’s not uncommon for the interviewer to completely ignore the questionnaire, so be prepared to lead the conversation where you want it to go, to your stronger stories. The questionnaire changes regularly, but some commonly asked questions include: What would you do with the million? What do you do for a living? Tell me about yourself. What do you do for fun? What do you do that makes people laugh? What does your spouse (or do your children) think about your trying out? Why are you auditioning? (Hint: You really need to think about that one in advance to have a unique answer.) How do you know so much trivia? If you’re from out of town, you might get “What have you seen in New York?” If you’re recognized as a repeat auditioner (and TPTB are quite good at that), then you may hear “What’s new this year?”

Make it clear that you watch the show, are a fan of the show, and have thought of a creative use for that $1,000,000. They want to know that you are going to do your best to make their show fun for viewers.

(mikehardware: It took me awhile to realize that I didn’t necessarily just have to simply answer their questions directly. It’s possible to answer on the general subject while directing the topic onto something I wanted to talk about.)

What is the purpose of the interviews? To gauge how you might interact with Meredith! Can you hold a conversation while under pressure? Can you think on your feet, and give a snappy comeback? When the show is taping, your conversations with Meredith are partly scripted from your questionnaires and interviews and partly ad libbed.

Look at TPTB as your friends. They want to find great contestants, and since you’ll be one, they’re your buddy! You can be calm, confident, and relaxed around your buddies! They’re not the enemy to be overcome. They want to help you appear on the show, not be an obstacle! It helps them if you have stories that are ready to go, so they don’t have to spend a bunch of time working with you to draw out something that could be used on TV. TPTB took potluck on the old phone game qualifier for the prime time version of WWTBAM and still had some wonderful, memorable contestants, but it just took extra effort to get their stories ready. Everyone has interesting unique stories. The key is getting that across in a short interview.

Work on your stories until you can get the point across very quickly, 5–10 seconds. Cut, edit, and focus each word until you can do that. (Also work on the follow-up questions TPTB might ask.) You may have a great 5-minute story, but there’s no time on the show for that. Tell your story in a punchy way that has them wanting more! Sell them that you’re the best contestant they’ll see that day! If you're selected, they’re going to be escorting you for several hours the day of your taping. Be the kind of person they wouldn’t mind having around. Keep a positive attitude!

Some good advice from peacock is to, “Be yourself, only bigger.” Find your best quality and emphasize it. What would have the audience wanting to root for you? Watch the show yourself and look for the common traits among the contestants. That’s probably as good an indicator of what they’re looking for as anyone is ever likely to get. They do want all kinds of people, but there do seem to be some common desirable traits. TPTB want confidence, humor, expressiveness, fun, outgoing and upbeat personalities, and ability to think on your feet. Smile, make eye contact, and be expressive! Engage them in a conversation, and make them laugh. Don’t tell them you’ve got the qualities they seek, show them! Be bold.

TPTB definitely do not want someone who would freeze up in the hotseat, unable to handle the pressure. That could be one of the reasons actors, teachers, and lawyers are often contestants. They’re used to performing live! If you have any performance experience, or anything you can spin that way, or a good anecdote that shows your coolness under pressure, include that story! (Make sure you include it on your application. For example, if you do community theater, make sure to list it as one of your hobbies.) Previous game show experience can be a plus. TPTB will stress you to gauge your reaction.

There are some things that could be hurtful to your chances. If you're there to show off your trivia knowledge, pick something else to emphasize. Passing the test gives them sufficient info about your trivia skills. They also don't want people who seem to think they have a right to be on the show. TPTB must hear the same answers over and over again in the auditions, so if you’ve got the same old tired story as everyone else, that’s not good. Other problems include cursing, inappropriate comments, lying, tales of illegal activity, stories that are downers or make TPTB think you can’t handle pressure, shyness, nervousness, quiet voice, monosyllabic answers, lack of emotion, controversial opinions or topics, and not following directions.

Watch your attitude. Be pleasant, attentive, and competent. Don’t be a pain, rude, fussy, difficult, complaining, demanding, or a downer. A touching story may work, but a sob story probably won’t. Don't appear desperate for the prize money. How do you think viewers would feel bad if someone they liked needed the money desperately but won only a grand? Letting TPTB know that you’ve traveled long distances just to audition for the show might not be a great idea; they seem to pick some people with “I auditioned on a lark” stories every year. (You’re in town for work or a vacation, right?)

Taking props to your interview may not be good. It can come off as prepared and unnatural. They're casting a quiz show, not Let's Make a Deal. Stuff that you would normally carry might be OK, like family pictures in your wallet, or a lucky charm that’s always in your pocket.

Here’s what might be some overly used answers to what you would do with the million: Cash the check and roll around in the money, give 10% to your church, take a vacation, retire, buy a new car. In reality, everyone is going to pay taxes and bills with their winnings, save or donate some, and maybe buy a treat or fulfill a dream. You need to put your unique spin on it and make it interesting. Why do you want the hot tub? The new car? To take the trip?

Focus your stories on yourself. You, not your family and friends, will be in the hotseat. (mikehardware: Most of my early audition stories were about my family, because I think they’re lots more interesting than boring old me. [Catfish: This attitude will guarantee you a Sad Card. TPTB want you, not your family, and if you think you're boring, why shouldn't they?] On my successful attempt, instead of saying basically that I love my wife, I told a story about there being only one thing I could razz her about in 28 years of marriage. That’s something they may not have heard before. [Catfish: Tread carefully. This story shows how charming mikehardware is, but it makes the story about Mrs. hardware, not mike. Then again, it makes them curious about the one thing, thus extending the conversation, which is what you want. To repeat, it's all in the presentation.])


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 5:11 am 
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The Aftermath

The Good News
Once you pass the written test in New York or on the Road, the only official notice of how you did is a postcard letting you know whether or not you’re in the player contestant pool. Cards take about 2–3 weeks to arrive. (Some lucky folks have received the phone call without the card, but this is a rare phenomenon.) If you do not receive a postcard, the safest plan is to just assume you didn’t make the cut and be willing to be proved wrong if TPTB give you a call.

In the past, the selections were made quickly. (One Bored Buddy received The Call late on the day of her Road audition.) Even with the taping, it's believed the selections are still made fairly quickly, probably immediately or by the next day, but no later than the end of the week. The 2–3 week delay in sending postcards is probably done mostly to discourage quick repeat auditions.

The Bad News
If in spite of all your preparations, you’re among the vast majority of people that didn’t pass the written test, or you received a Sad Card instead of a Happy Card, or you’re getting tired of floating in the contestant pool, don’t be too discouraged. It’s just the numbers. You’ve got lots of company, so don’t take the rejection personally (unless you behaved like a world-class jerk at the audition). If at first you don’t succeed, so much for skydiving, but you can still try out for Millionaire again.

If you’ve received a Sad Card, it’s probably best not to do another audition quickly. You would probably do better to think things out, work on your stories, and otherwise try to improve. That might take awhile. (If you failed the written test, you cannot take the test again that day.) You do not want to be viewed as a repeat auditioner who keeps spouting the same information time and time again. Show them something new about yourself at your next audition.

What things (that you can control) can you improve? It’s mainly things like your test preparation, stories, presentation, nerves, attitude, interactions, and appearance. What seemed to get a positive reaction? Try to do more stuff like that! What seemed to not go over well? Try to avoid those things! (mikehardware: After every audition, I’d write down all the details. Then I’d be able to review my notes for the audition next year.) Check the Bored for other audition stories, and learn from everyone. There’s always room for improvement. Never give up, never surrender!


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 5:13 am 
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You Have Friends

Keep in Touch
Please let your Bored Buddies know about your auditions, so we can keep up with the latest procedures, learn from your experience, refine the statistics, and help root you on the million!

Please post about your audition experience on the Bored! For newbies, delurk! We love to root for everyone, and it’s helpful for keeping up with changing procedures, and for Bored statistics. Folks will want to know when you auditioned and your results. If you could, please get a general idea of the number of people in your session taking the written test, the number of passers, and the number of folks getting a second interview. General demographic information is also nice to know.

Messages from Friends
mikehardware:
I auditioned for the fun and adventure of the whole experience. I really enjoyed the planning and travel, taking the test, figuring out how to do better at the interview, and the anticipation of waiting for a postcard, every time, every year. Yeah, I may be weird, but I always have fun. And it only took ten auditions for me to receive a Happy Card. Even after all that time, I’ve only talked to TPTB for maybe 20 minutes, which is way too short to talk about everything. Life continues, and I’ve still got lots of new stories.

gsabc:
I don't get to audition very often, having managed two in the last two years only because I had business trips that went through the NYC area. But I love the background stuff, and seeing them tape the show was a blast! Relax and have fun. It's just a game show, after all!

Catfish:
After two unsuccessful road auditions in Michigan—not my home turf but within a 4-hour drive, which was my limit—I auditioned successfully in Chicago, my home turf, following most of the above advice, and received The Call before the postcard. It was a whirlwind. I didn't win big bucks on the show, but I had a blast with Meredith and my green room pals. You can too.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 5:16 am 
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The Odds
For the math geeks out there, here are some wild, general guesstimates on Millionaire audition odds.

Overall Audition Success
The New York auditions last about 8 weeks, with auditions 4 days per week, and 3 sessions per day, with roughly 120 people auditioning per session. That’s roughly 11,520 people auditioning in New York.

For the Road auditions, there are six cities, and a maximum of 2,500 people can audition for each city. That’s a maximum of 15,000 more auditioning.

Then there’s the audience auditions. A WAG is that there are about 35 tape dates, 2 sessions per day, and roughly 75-100 take the test, so maybe another 7,000 auditioning.

With a total of about 33,520 people auditioning each year, a 20% passing rate for the written test gets that down to 6,704 candidates. If one third of those get the second interview, then it’s down to 2,235. That’s still a lot of great candidates to choose from! With a guesstimated 375–450 slots available in the pool, your chance of getting a Happy Card after a second audition interview would be roughly 20%, at most. You need to be the best potential contestant they see in that session!

As a rough example, if your audition group starts with 150 people, you could expect about 30 to pass the written test, 10 would get the second interview, with 2 people selected for the pool, and one of those appearing on the show. The suspicion is that TPTB don’t use fixed numbers per audition group. If a group had 5 great potential contestants, they’d give them postcards, and groups that didn’t have any outstanding folks would get none. Things would get evened out over the whole audition season, but TPTB could be searching for only specific types of contestants to fill certain slots later in the season.

Audition Timing
The 2008 statistics of the Bored Buddies indicate some possibly interesting results. (Of course, our numbers are self-reported and may not be representative.)

For the entire season, 53 auditioners (59 attempts) received 14 Happy Cards, and 8 taped. So overall, 26% of auditioners received Happy Cards and have a 57% chance of taping after receiving a Happy Card.

Breaking the season statistics down a bit further:

1. For the first 3 weeks of auditions, 12 auditioners (16 attempts) received 7 Happy Cards, and 3 taped. That part would be 58% of our Auditioners receiving Happy Cards, and a 43% chance of taping after receiving a Happy Card.

2. For the rest of the audition season, 41 auditioners (43 attempts) received 7 Happy Cards, and 5 taped. That part would be 17% of our Auditioners receiving Happy Cards and a 71% chance of taping after receiving a Happy Card.


Breaking down that “rest of the audition season” part further:

1. For the Road Auditions only, 21 auditioner attempts resulted in 5 Happy Cards and 4 Tapings. That’s 23.8% of our Auditioners receiving Happy Cards, and an 80% chance of taping after receiving a Happy Card.

2. For the rest of the audition season minus the Road auditions, 22 attempts by 20 auditioners resulted in 2 Happy Cards and 1 taping. That’s 10% of our Auditioners receiving Happy Cards, with a 50% chance of taping after receiving a Happy Card.

Demographics
Contestant demographics are a controversial subject on the Bored. Just casual observation of the crowds taking the written test verifies that some groups are likely to be under or over-represented in the audition test passers. There’s still enough variety in the folks who do pass the written test and interviews for TPTB to be highly choosy! You can’t change your demographics, so you’re better off working on what you do have control over. You won’t get a free pass just because you’re in a highly desirable demographic, and you won’t get passed over just because you’re not. Just try to be the best potential contestant they’ve ever seen, no matter what your demographics are like.

Contestant Pool Size
The contestant pool must be somewhat larger than the number of contestants they can use in one taping season. If there are 175 shows per season, and an average of 1.6 to 1.8 contestants per show, about 300 contestants will appear on the show, with about a 50/50 male/female ratio. They’ll also need some extras (in case of speedy contestants, folks unable to travel, etc.) and to give TPTB a choice of people. Exactly how much larger the pool is than the minimum is unknown, but some will be left to tread water until the pool is drained.

A WAG (since there is little hard data on the subject), is that a minimum of approximately 375 people are put into the pool annually, about 25% extra. With 2 years of pools between drainings, that's three people in the pool for every two whom TPTB needs to use. That seems like the minimum for balancing things out as needed. That would give folks in the pool an approximately 67% chance (maximum) of making the show, which is good, but not certain.

The 2008–2009 season statistics from the Bored don’t clearly indicate the pool size. About half the people who received a Happy Card this year also got The Call for this season. That would indicate a pool size of approximately 450, but it could easily be a result of fewer contestants being used per show. (The stats are showing approximately 1.4 contestants appear per show for the 2008–2009 season instead of about 1.7 in previous years. That would work out to about 50 fewer contestants used this year.) Some people do get The Call during their second year in the contestant pool, so don’t despair if you’re treading water.

Audition Location
Does audition location affect your chances of making the pool? Another WAG is that there would be roughly 165 contestant slots from New York auditions, 66 from the Road auditions, about 36 for 4 weeks of specialty shows from all the auditions, and maybe 33 or so from the audience auditions. That’s 300, about the average needed for a season.

For New York then, 165/11,520 = 1.43%
Road auditions, 66/15,000 = 0.44%
Audience auditions, 33/7,000= 0.47%

So all things being equal, your chances of making the cut are roughly two or three times greater if you audition in New York (and of course, pass the test and interviews). The other advantage of a New York audition is that if you qualify early, you’ll be in the pool for the entire taping season, instead of for only part of the season. For the 2008–2009 season, about 20% of the shows were taped before the second set of road auditions in August.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 5:16 am 
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And that's it for now. Thanks again to everyone!


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 5:55 am 
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Wow. Thanks, mikehardware and all those who helped read it over! That was a very interesting read, and will be very helpful to those auditioning this year.

The stuff about answering the questionnaire about yourself and not your family members was spot on for me. In my Jeopardy audition two years ago, it was very hard for me to come up with five things that were about me, not all the fascinating people around me. I eventually got there, and that was good practice for my Millionaire audition.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 7:13 am 
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As promised, I have added this to the Bored Reference thread.....

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 7:18 am 
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Excellent work!

It is really nice of you to have taken the time to do this.

Are you still doing the spreadsheets as well? I know you are obsessed!

I think I am going down early this year. I waited too long last year.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 4:14 pm 
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Damn good thread Mike.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 4:58 pm 
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I've made this thread a Sticky. We want newbies to see it so I don't think we want to content ourselves with sticking it in the Bored Reference thread (though it should also go there). --Bob

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 17, 2009 11:44 pm 
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Bob78164 wrote:
I've made this thread a Sticky. We want newbies to see it so I don't think we want to content ourselves with sticking it in the Bored Reference thread (though it should also go there). --Bob



You can stick it wherever you like. Just make sure it sticks.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2009 9:21 am 
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Bob78164 wrote:
I've made this thread a Sticky. We want newbies to see it so I don't think we want to content ourselves with sticking it in the Bored Reference thread (though it should also go there). --Bob


I do think this should be a sticky but I have a question on Bored procedures.

Who goes about deciding on what is a sticky and for how long?

We have a few moderators and I wondered if you guys discuss this amongst yourselves.

Bored games, etc can be here for awhile.

I quess for auditioning, I have to start reading the transcripts going backwards. That is on the other section or maybe an easy link is http://www.wwtbam.biz/test.php.

Anyone have any better answers for studying for the audition?

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2009 6:25 pm 
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christie1111 wrote:
Bob78164 wrote:
I've made this thread a Sticky. We want newbies to see it so I don't think we want to content ourselves with sticking it in the Bored Reference thread (though it should also go there). --Bob


I do think this should be a sticky but I have a question on Bored procedures.

Who goes about deciding on what is a sticky and for how long?
I think our procedures have sort of developed organically. Game threads usually are maintained as stickies until the game deadline, if there is one, or until it's solved. In rare cases, a game may be de-Stickied if it's taken too long to solve -- there is a downside to having too many sticky threads on the Bored, because people with small screens have to scroll past them to look at active threads.

Announcements of BB appearances on the show generally are made sticky for the day of the broadcast, to maximize the number of us who remember to watch the show.

Other than that, I think the moderators simply use their individual judgment, typically (but not invariably) deferring to the person who made the thread sticky in the first place. In this case, I intend to leave this thread a Sticky through audition season, in the hope of luring in additional new members. --Bob

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2009 3:06 pm 
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Bob78164 wrote:
christie1111 wrote:
Bob78164 wrote:
I've made this thread a Sticky. We want newbies to see it so I don't think we want to content ourselves with sticking it in the Bored Reference thread (though it should also go there). --Bob


I do think this should be a sticky but I have a question on Bored procedures.

Who goes about deciding on what is a sticky and for how long?
I think our procedures have sort of developed organically. Game threads usually are maintained as stickies until the game deadline, if there is one, or until it's solved. In rare cases, a game may be de-Stickied if it's taken too long to solve -- there is a downside to having too many sticky threads on the Bored, because people with small screens have to scroll past them to look at active threads.

Announcements of BB appearances on the show generally are made sticky for the day of the broadcast, to maximize the number of us who remember to watch the show.

Other than that, I think the moderators simply use their individual judgment, typically (but not invariably) deferring to the person who made the thread sticky in the first place. In this case, I intend to leave this thread a Sticky through audition season, in the hope of luring in additional new members. --Bob


But if, organically, enough people didn't think it should be a sticky, one of the other moderators could unsticky it?

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2009 3:07 pm 
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SportsFan68 wrote:
Bob78164 wrote:
christie1111 wrote:
Bob78164 wrote:
I've made this thread a Sticky. We want newbies to see it so I don't think we want to content ourselves with sticking it in the Bored Reference thread (though it should also go there). --Bob


I do think this should be a sticky but I have a question on Bored procedures.

Who goes about deciding on what is a sticky and for how long?
I think our procedures have sort of developed organically. Game threads usually are maintained as stickies until the game deadline, if there is one, or until it's solved. In rare cases, a game may be de-Stickied if it's taken too long to solve -- there is a downside to having too many sticky threads on the Bored, because people with small screens have to scroll past them to look at active threads.

Announcements of BB appearances on the show generally are made sticky for the day of the broadcast, to maximize the number of us who remember to watch the show.

Other than that, I think the moderators simply use their individual judgment, typically (but not invariably) deferring to the person who made the thread sticky in the first place. In this case, I intend to leave this thread a Sticky through audition season, in the hope of luring in additional new members. --Bob


But if, organically, enough people didn't think it should be a sticky, one of the other moderators could unsticky it?
Correct. --Bob

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2009 10:04 pm 
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Speaking of auditions does anybody know when they're going to post audition info for the new season of Millionaire?


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 6:53 am 
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Millionaire Fan wrote:
Speaking of auditions does anybody know when they're going to post audition info for the new season of Millionaire?


We don't know, but I've been expecting some announcement of the "summer" auditions in NYC being posted sometime this month. I haven't seen anything yet.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 7:56 am 
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MarleysGh0st wrote:
Millionaire Fan wrote:
Speaking of auditions does anybody know when they're going to post audition info for the new season of Millionaire?


We don't know, but I've been expecting some announcement of the "summer" auditions in NYC being posted sometime this month. I haven't seen anything yet.

Website says information on tickets for tapings will be up during June, arguing for July tapings, early August at the latest. Granted, there are still many in the pool, but signups for new auditions should be posted soon. My bet is next week.

It's possible that they were waiting for the decision on PTBAM, and then making a decision on the format for choosing contestants for that. Someone mentioned the possibility of merging the auditions for both shows. I hope that is not the case.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 11:00 am 
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Dates might be different this year because Meredith is not attending the Olympics as was the case last season. I think that might have altered the start of the season to an earlier date, but this is pure supposition.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 11:21 am 
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I'm home sick today, and watching the show in real-time. They actually had a bumper saying that "to audiiton to be a contestant, visit milionairetv.com." I don't think they use that until they're about to put up the dates (or early in the seaso, when they're still taping), so I'm thinking it's going to be soon that this year's audition dates will be announced.

IIRC, they just about always post the dates near the end of April/beginning of May, and start the auditions themselves in June. Yes, they started taping early last year because of the Olympics, but I don't think the auditions were any earlier than usual.

My guess is that we'll see the new dates (at least the first month's worth) next week.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 12:06 pm 
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I saw that announcement too. I ran to my computer to check the website and nothing has been posted yet.


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