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A Potential "Million" Dollar Decision (or "Who Wants to Be the Host of Millionaire") - April 7

(Jason Block)
The biggest news in game shows this week didn't happen in game shows directly. Katie Couric, co-anchor of the "Today" show on NBC, announced on Wednesday that she would be leaving the chair she sat in for 15 years to become the lead anchor at the CBS Evening News. She is leaving the show in May.

But what makes this story newsworthy is the lead candidate to replace her. That would be Emmy winning game show hostess Meredith Vieira. Vieira, a capable newswoman in her own right, would leave the ABC show "The View" and become the show's anchor in September of 2006.

This leads to the $1,000,000 question. IF she becomes the lead anchor(and speculation says she there is a 4 yr/$40,000,000 deal on the table) ,will she give up the Millionaire gig and should she?

In my opinion, the answer is YES. Having "The View" right next to ABC Studios and having Millionaire be a compliment on her resume is a good thing. The "Today" gig is a giant step up. I do not think she will want to get up at 4AM, do a 3 hour show and then prepare for 4 shows a day for another 6 months out of the year. I smell a buy out of her Millionaire contract.

This could be the biggest jump in her career. She got royally screwed by CBS when she wanted a family and she was frozen out of "60 Minutes". She was hired in 1989 by CBS to be on "60 Minutes" but by 1991 she was gone. She isn't going to make that same mistake again.

Unfortunately, for us she will be gone from Millionaire sooner than we want her to be. But I believe for her career, her final answer will be "goodbye."

(Gordon Pepper)
One of the big news items this week is that Meredith Vieira will be leaving The View and will be going to 'The Today Show'. on NBC. The price for the move? Forty million dollars and a much higher profiled gig. The cost, however, could be that she may have to relinquish being the hostess of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?"

As of the writing of this column, none of us have any idea if she is actually going to do this, but my gut reaction is that she shouldn't. She may not be missing the money should she leave Valleycrest, but she may be giving up a lot more.

Meredith Vieira, in the years that she has done the show, has set the field for female game show hosts. We have seen Paula Poundstone, Elayne Boosler, Kennedy and even Betty White try their hand at the medium, but Vieira is the first female to achieve the success in the form of 4 seasons at the helm. She has also won not only awards but the hearts of game show fans everywhere for her masterful hosting style.

Not only would she be giving that up, but Vieira would also be giving up a piece of cult fandom by completely crossing over from the world of the exciting game show to the world of the mundane early morning show. Sure, she would be familiar and famous, but she would not have that rabid fandom - something that Regis Philbin never had until Millionaire, or Phil Keoghan before the Amazing Race, or Anderson Cooper before The Mole. All of the aforementioned were or still are in their own daytime or news programs, so there's no reason why Meredith couldn't do the same.

Before Meredith says that it is her final answer on leaving Millionaire, she should think about what she would be giving up. There would be no reason to not try a Double Dip and get everything accomplished. The move to stick around could be a million dollar save for not only the WWTBAM franchise, but to her own legacy as well.


We've all been around here long enough to know that anytime none of the singers sing well, especially for a stretch of time, the Chaos Theory rears it's ugly head and sends someone home that shouldn't be going at that time. We also all know that the problem with writing this column before the Tuesday show is that those performances, which is such a huge factor in deciding who goes and who doesn't, don't come into play yet. For instance, after I saw Mandisa's lackluster effort, I immediately stuck her into the Trouble Section. That being said, neither myself or my colleagues thought that she was going to be out. This is the reason that we always put up the disclaimer assuming that people are actually going to show up and sing, because when they don't...well...this happens.

As always, the point of this column is to look at said trend and figure out what everything means. This column will be filled with the opinions of Grandma Pepper this week, as she was pretty on the money. So lets see what last week means for this week coming up...

The public was shocked when you left. SHOCKED! I wasn't as much, and neither was Grandma Pepper. She loves Mandisa - but she didn't vote for her this week, because she thought that Mandisa was not only not that good, but she felt alienated by her selections of gospel for the past few weeks. I have to agree with her. Mandisa has one of the best voices, but her song selection was fatal. Let's look at her song choices...

Week #1 - Never - Heart
Week #2 - Cry - Faith Hill
Week #3 - I'm Every Woman - Chaka Khan
Week #4 - Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing - Stevie Wonder

Nice song choices. Nice mix of Country and R&B with famous tunes sung by well known singers. (Of course, she HAD to do Stevie on Week #4, but who's counting?) Now we get to...

Week #5 - I Don't Hurt Anymore - Dinah Washington
Week #6 - Wanna Praise You - Mary Mary
Week #7 - Any Man of Mine - Shania Twain

Has anyone heard of those songs before she sang them? I didn't, and I certainly consider myself a music buff. Even more importantly, most of the voting audience didn't, and I sense that it's one of the reasons why Mandisa went bye-bye. Another one is that 2 of those songs were gospel, which caters to a much smaller audience base than Rock, Pop or Country, and you simply won't win if you try to get that audience Vs. a country audience. Now before I get e-mail saying that Week #5 was 50's night, let me point out that Paris, in contrast, did 'Fever', a song that was remade by Madonna and that the voting audience certainly has heard of. That's a big reason why Paris is still in the competition and Mandisa is not.

So who does this help?

So Taylor is now the man to beat? Well, no, but he's the biggest beneficiary of this. Grandma Pepper points out that she considers Taylor R&B, and when you see what he does, I'll have to agree. Based on the fact that Lisa and Mandisa SHOULD have gotten some of the departing Lisa Wilson's vote, yet they both dropped into the Bottom 3, it appears that the R&B contingency went to somewhere else - and that somewhere else is Taylor. Assuming that Mandisa's votes go the same way, you now have Taylor as a legitimate dark horse to win the whole thing.

He's probably not going to get Mandisa's votes, but he did show up and deliver to Simon's challenge, pulling off a country song very well. I also think that this week's Queen Theme fits right in his wheelhouse. Assuming that he does not pull a Constantine Maroulis and starts kicking things like he's performing Nickelback, he's good to go for next week.

Remember when Kellie, Chris and Taylor were all in the same group? I don't think it's a fluke. Like her or not, Pickler has a stranglehold on the country vote, and should she not fall apart on those interviews, or on Queen Week, she's got Final 4 written all over her. Even if she should screw up on Queen Week, her fans should bail her out - and I suspect that someone is going to screw up worse than she does.

Grandma Pepper also thinks that Katharine, who sings in the same style that Mandisa does, will also get some of her vote. I have to agree with that, and the fact that she was one of the better singers on Tuesday certainly will help her longevity on the show. Now can she follow that up and pick up some more of that vote?

You have not been singing well and like Mandisa, your choice of songs have also been weird. The only good thing is that your supporters, who now know you are in trouble, will be voting to save your hide. Now you have to sing like you need their votes, because you do...desperately.


The fact that 2 R&B singers are in the bottom three in a show that's rich in R&B leads me to believe that you did not get the Lisa Tucker vote. That's going to be a problem, because I don't expect you to get the Mandisa vote either. However, that was also your first time in the Bottom Three, and I expect your voters to come out and vote like mad to keep you in it. Like Elliott, though, you better deliver.

You did a good job this past week, so why are you this low? Because Elliott is in the bottom, and the votes going to him are going to be the same ones taken from you. The only good thing for you is that you, with the Constantine factor going on, you should be able to do a nice performance and remind people that they need to vote for you too. Just make sure, like Chris, that you don't wind up kicking things either.

There are a lot of things going against you this week. Elliott and Paris's people know that they have to call in. Ace and Chris are probably going to do bang up jobs, Queen is probably not going to be your strong suit, and the week after a Chaos Theory elimination, the voters start voting for talent and against who they think caused the mess to begin with. This week, that person is you. You either need to wow us all and shock the world, or you need to sing so badly and put yourself in such peril that the Bucky-philes know that you need votes. I don't see either happening, and I see you leaving.

So my three people least likely to hear 'We Are The Champions' will be the loser between Katharine and Paris (Probably Paris), The Loser between Ace and Elliott (Probably Ace) and Bucky. The person most likely to hear 'Another One Bites the Dust' next week should be Bucky, but if no one decides to break through, then we may have another surprise. We'll see who the show no longer goes on for next week.

Gordon Pepper and Jason Block both wouldn't mind inheriting the host seat. Vote for either at jb.regis@verizon.net or gordon@gameshownewsnet.com.

 

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