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Condit the Contestant

by Amy Zidell

Posted 09.09.01

Based on the whopping ratings of the Connie Chung interview with Gary Condit Thursday night, August 23rd, on ABC's Primetime Live, I know I'm not the only one who was oddly compelled to watch an hour of programming centered around a 30 minute interview. Perhaps football programming people were working behind the scenes. Connie Chung did quite an admirable job pressing the congressman, asking the hard questions and rephrasing the hard questions. She even restrained herself from slapping Condit upside the head and yelling at him to answer the stinkin' questions. She's too dignified a journalist to do that.

I thought of something Friday morning, as Condit's ill received media blitz started crawling out from under assorted rocks. As various news programs began reviewing, analyzing, and scrutinizing the interview down to issues such as whether Condit looked up or down before, during, or after a question, it occurred to me that perhaps another ABC personality powerhouse should be called in to put Condit in the hot seat. A seat where Condit is put in a position where questions would be answered, and monetary motivation is tied to each correct answer.

One word: Regis.


Imagine, if you will, that Condit is a contestant on a special 
Slime Bag edition of Who Want's To Be A Millionaire? 

INT: WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE STUDIO

The slick studio is sporadically lit in MOVING RAYS of LIGHTING FX. Anticipatory MILLIONAIRE MUSIC punctuates the austere studio. Audience APPLAUSE fills the studio. REGIS is illuminated. He stands, facing the audience at the entrance of the Millionaire coliseum style stage. REGIS Okay, let's see who's going to be our next contestant in this special Slime Bag edition of Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? Here's the next fastest fingers question. FASTEST FINGERS DRUM ROLL. LIGHTING FX dance across the stage. REGIS (cont'd) Put these women in order of the scandal they were associated with starting with the earliest, Gennifer Flowers, Donna Rice, Fawn Hall, Anita Hill. FASTEST FINGERS MUSIC plays softly. FASTEST FINGERS GRAPHIC appears across the bottom half the screen showing the question and choices as Regis reads. LIGHTING FX FLASH on and off. REGIS (cont'd) Okay time's up. Let's see the answers in the correct order starting with the earliest scandal the women were associated with. FASTEST FINGERS CHOICE MUSIC SIGNALS follow Regis reading each choice along with FASTEST FINGERS ANSWER GRAPHICS appearing on the right side of the screen. REGIS (cont'd) It was Donna Rice, then it was Fawn Hall, and then Anita Hill and then Gennifer Flowers. Now that's the right order did anybody get it right? Yes and the fastest, the winner, GARY CONDIT. MUSIC, coordinating with LIGHTING FX, plays as Condit walks to the hot seat smiling. There is a smattering of uncertain APPLAUSE. Condit shakes hands with Regis. REGIS (cont'd) (To Condit) Congratulations. Condit and Regis sit down. Regis discreetly wipes his hand on the side of his jacket. The studio is quiet. REGIS (cont'd) Gary Condit from Modesto, California in the hot seat right now. Going to go for a million dollars. How are you Congressman? CONDIT Out of respect toward my family, and a request from Levy family, I won't go into details about that. REGIS (puzzled) Alright. Now I understand your wife isn't feeling well. We all hope she feels better soon, and so with you is your attorney ABBE LOWEL. CLOSE ON - ABBE REGIS (cont'd) (to Abbe) Hello Mr. Lowel, at the prices I'm guessing you bill out at, Gary could really use a million dollars. ABBE (smiles insincerely) I'm confident representative Condit is prepared to answer any questions you may ask. MEDIUM ON - REGIS AND CONDIT REGIS For Gary's sake, let's hope so. (game demeanor, to Condit) Now you know the rules. You know the lifelines, 50/50, phone a friend, and ask the audience. Okay, Gary let's get going. It's time to play, Who Want's to be a Millionaire? BACKGROUND MILLIONAIRE QUESTION MUSIC PLAYS as Regis prepares the question. GRAPHICS APPEAR below Condit's face showing the question and choices as Regis reads.

REGIS $100, it's said people who live in glass houses should not throw what? Tantrums, Rocks, Parties, Nerf Balls? Condit considers the question thinking hard about it. CONDIT I can say, B, Rocks. REGIS Is that your final answer? CONDIT Yes, B, final answer. REGIS You shouldn't through rocks. That's correct. You won a hundred dollars. ANSWER GRAPHIC FLASHES the correct answer. CORRECT ANSWER MUSIC plays. A smattering of APPLAUSE. A CRANE SHOT PANS audience. CLOSE ON - Abbe Lowel applauding. DOLLAR AMOUNT WON GRAPHIC of $100 appears briefly on screen below Condit. MEDIUM ON - REGIS AND CONDIT BACKGROUND MILLIONAIRE QUESTION MUSIC PLAYS as Regis prepares the question. GRAPHICS APPEAR below Condit's face showing the question and choices as Regis reads. REGIS Okay, for $200, someone who criticizes someone for doing something they do themselves is often called what? Hypochondriac, Hypercritical, Hypocrite, or Hypnotic? Condit swallows. He looks vacantly straight at Regis WAITING FOR ANSWER MUSIC PLAYS softly in the background. Condit sighs heavily. He licks his lips and looks down. REGIS You've got all your lifelines. You could use one, but you've got a ways to go. What do you think? CONDIT I've heard of this. REGIS You think you know? CONDIT I just need some time. REGIS Alright. You've still got all your lifelines. STILL WAITING FOR AN ANSWER MUSIC plays in the background raising in volume slightly. Condit shakes his head. CONDIT It's not A. I don't think it's D. (pauses) I'm going to say C, Hypocrite REGIS You sure about that? CONDIT Yes, Hypocrite C, final answer. REGIS Right! That makes you a Hypocrite. Correct answer C and you won $200. ANSWER GRAPHIC FLASHES the correct answer. CORRECT ANSWER MUSIC plays. A smattering of APPLAUSE. DOLLAR AMOUNT WON GRAPHIC of $200 appears briefly on screen below Condit. REGIS (cont'd) Your district's in Modesto, California? That's in Northern California? CONDIT That's right I enjoy serving my constituents, and I've been married 34 years. REGIS Married 34 years huh? CONDIT Yes, my wife and I have been married for 34 years. REGIS You seem pretty certain on that. No question that's your final answer. Too bad that's not your next question, you seem to know that one pretty well. CONDIT (nodding) I've been married 34 years. REGIS Right. Okay, going now for $300. BACKGROUND MILLIONAIRE QUESTION MUSIC PLAYS as Regis prepares the question. GRAPHICS APPEAR below Condit's face showing the question and choices as Regis reads. REGIS (cont'd) Here we go. If someone tells you, you're fly is open, you need to zip up your what? Mouth, Pants, Office, or Apartment? Condit smiles pathetically and shifts in his seat, crossing his legs. WAITING FOR AN ANSWER MUSIC plays softly in the background. Condit contemplates the question, his thin lips forming the various possible answers silently. Regis fidgets. REGIS (cont'd) Maybe you want to try a lifeline? Condit shakes his head, no, but says nothing. Regis sits in his seat impatiently. STILL WAITING FOR AN ANSWER MUSIC plays in the background raising in volume slightly. CONDIT (unsure) I think it's B, Pants, but people do (making a motion) zip up their mouth also. REGIS Sometimes not enough. CONDIT That's right. Um... REGIS You don't sound too sure. CONDIT (sighs) Maybe I should do 50/50. REGIS You sure? CONDIT Yeah, 50/50. REGIS Alright computer, please take away two of the wrong answers. 50/50 MUSIC AND GRAPHICS run. Revealing remaining answer choices A: Mouth and B: Pants. REGIS Those were the two you were thinking about. CONDIT Right. Um, I'm ah going to stay with B, Pants. REGIS Is that your final answer? CONDIT Yes B, final answer, Pants. REGIS Yes! You need to zip up your pants! Correct. ANSWER GRAPHIC FLASHES the correct answer. CORRECT ANSWER MUSIC plays. A smattering of APPLAUSE. DOLLAR AMOUNT WON GRAPHIC of $300 appears briefly on screen below Condit. REGIS (cont'd) Alright, you've got two lifelines left. Going for $500. Condit smiles nervously. BACKGROUND MILLIONAIRE QUESTION MUSIC PLAYS as Regis prepares the question. GRAPHICS APPEAR below Condit's face showing the question and choices as Regis reads. REGIS (cont'd) For $500, what nickname was given to Confederate General Thomas J. Jackson? Brickwall, Blockwall Hole In The Wall, or Stonewall? Condit tilts his head and thinks. REGIS (cont'd) As a congressman you probably are familiar with American history. CONDIT Not as much as I should be really, but I think I know this one. It's um D, Stonewall, final answer. REGIS There's no stonewalling that question! Stonewall is correct for $500. ANSWER GRAPHIC FLASHES the correct answer. CORRECT ANSWER MUSIC plays. A smattering of APPLAUSE. DOLLAR AMOUNT WON GRAPHIC of $500 appears briefly on screen below Condit. MILLIONAIRE MUSIC CHORD plays. REGIS (cont'd) He's up to $1,000. That might just pay for Mr. Lowel's appearance tonight. Let's play. BACKGROUND MILLIONAIRE QUESTION MUSIC PLAYS as Regis prepares the question. GRAPHICS APPEAR below Condit's face showing the question and choices as Regis reads. REGIS (cont'd) Which airline is known for the slogan, Come fly the friendly skies? American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, or United Airlines? Condit stares blankly at Regis REGIS (cont'd) You must rack up a lot of frequent flyer miles in your line of work. CONDIT Uhm, yeah. Regis waits as Condit sits. REGIS You have an idea? Condit shakes his head. CONDIT Not really. REGIS You've got two lifelines left. Maybe the audience can help you out. CONDIT I really should know this. But I'm not sure. Let's ask the audience. REGIS Okay audience, Condit needs some help. If you're ready on your key pads choosing A, B, C, or D vote now. ASK THE AUDIENCE POLLING MUSIC PLAYS. A CRANE SHOT PANS THE AUDIENCE. Audience members sit still. Light bars ILLUMINATE in sequence around the stage. AUDIENCE POLL GRAPHICS appear to the right side of the screen and remain unchanged for a prolonged time. The POLLING MUSIC continues to play. After some time the END POLL MUSIC CHORD SOUNDS. The POLL GRAPHIC reveals 0% results for each option. REGIS (cont'd) (perplexed) Hmm. I've never seen that before. Regis is stumped momentarily. REGIS (cont'd) Well this is a first. No one from the audience voted. They all abstained. That doesn't happen often does it? CONDIT I guess not. REGIS Don't know what to tell you Condit but guess you're not going to get any help from this audience. Your Mr. Lowel, obviously didn't have any help for you either or it would have registered. CLOSE ON - ABBE REGIS (to Abbe) Abbe, you don't know who wants you to, come fly the friendly skies? ABBE I'm afraid I can't answer that question, Regis. MEDIUM ON - REGIS AND CONDIT REGIS (to Condit) Guess you're on your own for now unless you want to phone a friend. CONDIT I think I can get this one. I'm thinking of the jingles. Condit nods his head along as he hums a couple different airline jingles. STILL WAITING FOR AN ANSWER MUSIC plays in the background raising in volume slightly. REGIS That's one way to jog your memory Condit stops his humming and looks thoughtful. REGIS (cont'd) You think you know the answer? CONDIT Yes I do. That would be D, United. REGIS Are you sure? That your final answer? CONDIT Yes, United, D, final answer. REGIS You're right for $1,000. ANSWER GRAPHIC FLASHES the correct answer. CORRECT ANSWER MUSIC plays. A smattering of APPLAUSE. DOLLAR AMOUNT WON GRAPHIC of $1,000 appears briefly on screen below Condit. MILLIONAIRE MUSIC CHORD PLAYS. BACKGROUND MILLIONAIRE QUESTION MUSIC PLAYS as Regis prepares the question. GRAPHICS APPEAR below Condit's face showing the question and choices as Regis reads. REGIS (cont'd) Let's move on, the next question is for $2,000. Here it comes. Typically, an intern works in exchange for what? Little or no money, Fame, Romance, A new car. CONDIT (defensive) I believe I've already answered that question. REGIS No you haven't. CONDIT You sure? REGIS (laughing) Yes, that's my final answer. CONDIT Oh. (laughing) It's not a new car or romance. It's A, Little or no money. REGIS That's right! Interns don't make much money. You've got $2,000. ANSWER GRAPHIC FLASHES the correct answer. CORRECT ANSWER MUSIC plays. A smattering of APPLAUSE. DOLLAR AMOUNT WON GRAPHIC of $2,000 appears briefly on screen below Condit. REGIS (cont'd) He's up to $4,000. You've got one lifeline left you're nine away from a million. BACKGROUND MILLIONAIRE QUESTION MUSIC PLAYS as Regis prepares the question. GRAPHICS APPEAR below Condit's face showing the question and choices as Regis reads. REGIS (cont'd) Who directed all of the following movies: Tell 'Em Nothing, Indiscreet, Satan Never Sleeps, The Awful Truth, and An Affair to Remember? Alfred Hitchcock, Leo McCarey, Victor Fleming, or George Cukor? Condit gulps some water down. He appears flushed. CONDIT Let's phone a friend. REGIS Okay. You have movie buff on your friend list? CONDIT I'm not sure how much of a movie buff they are but they're pretty smart. REGIS Who would you like us to call? CONDIT Richard Gephardt. REGIS Oh, Congressman Gephardt? CONDIT Yes. REGIS Okay, AT&T lets get Richard on the phone for Condit here. A PHONE RINGS. GEPHARDT (V.O.) Hello? REGIS Hello Richard? GEPHARDT (V.O.) Yes. REGIS Regis Philbin here calling from New York. How are you? GEPHARDT (V.O.) Fine Regis. How are you? REGIS Fine Congressman. I've got Gary Condit sitting in the hot seat here. He's trying for $4,000 and needs your help. Abruptly, the PHONE HANGS UP. A few seconds of DEAD AIR is followed by a DIAL TONE. Regis is surprised. Condit sits unemotional. The phone line CLICKS then RINGS and a RECORDED FEMALE VOICE begins. RECORDED FEMALE VOICE (V.O.) If you'd like to make a call, please hang up and try your call again. If you need help, hang up and then dial your operator. If you'd like to make a call, please hang up and try your call again. If you need help, hang up and then dial your operator. A TONE SOUNDS followed by LOUD UNPLEASANT QUICKLY REPEATING BLEEPING. Regis jumps at the noise, which is silenced shortly. REGIS We seem to be having some trouble with the line. Let's try that call again AT&T. A BUSY SIGNAL. Regis is stunned. REGIS (cont'd) Sorry Gary, seems your phone a friend's not going to be able to help you with this one. Unfortunately, you're also out of lifelines. You're on your own. Condit nods silently in acknowledgement. REGIS (cont'd) You can stop now, you've won $2,000. Or, maybe you want to chance a guess and raise your winnings. It's up to you. CONDIT Well, the smart thing might be to stop but... REGIS That hasn't stopped you before. CONDIT (nods, agreeing) Right, I think I'm going to live dangerously. REGIS Alright. CONDIT I'm going to say A, Alfred Hitchcock. REGIS Final answer? CONDIT Yes, final answer Hitchcock. REGIS Said it was Alfred Hitchcock and your wrong. It was Leo McCarey. WRONG ANSWER MUSIC PLAYS. ANSWER GRAPHICS SHOW Condit's SELECTION and then the CORRECT ANSWER FLASHES. REGIS Well congressman you've got $1,000. Thanks for playing Who Want to Be A Millionaire. CONDIT Thanks. Regis and Condit get up and shake hands. Regis claps Condit on the shoulder instead. Condit exits the studio. The audience ERUPTS IN ENTHUSIASTIC APPLAUSE. MILLIONAIRE LOSER MUSIC PLAYS as Condit exits. TOTAL PRIZE MONEY GRAPHIC of $1,000 appears briefly. Regis stands at the entrance of the Millionaire coliseum style stage smiling. REGIS An Affair To Remember, great movie with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. Too bad, Condit couldn't get much help. He didn't help himself much either. Thought a congressman might do better. When we get back after these messages, we'll find out who's going to try for a million next on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? CUT TO COMMERCIAL:

[WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE IS PROPERTY OF ABC, INC.   THIS ALMOST COHERENT PIECE IS A FICTIONALIZED ACCOUNT OF THE GAME SHOW AND IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH ABC, INC.   ANY OPINIONS THAT MAY OR MAY NOT BE CONTAINED IN THE ALMOST COHERENT PIECE ARE THOSE OF ALMOST COHERENT AND IN NO WAY REFLECT OR SHOULD IN ANY MANNER BE CONSTRUED TO IMPLY THAT THEY IN ANY WAY REFLECT OPINIONS OF REGIS PHILBIN AND/OR ABC, INC.]

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