By Olu Alemoru, Staff Writer
We’ve had the bombast of Regis Philbin and maternal warmth of Meredith Vieira. Now Cedric “The Entertainer” is hoping to add a cool dose of comedy to TV’s popular “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.”
Beginning Sept. 2 weekdays at 2 p.m. Cedric will be the one asking “and is that your final answer,” as he joins fellow King of Comedy Steve Harvey as the host of a nationally syndicated game show.
Based on the British show of the same name and debuting with Philbin in 1999, contestants have won over $80 million by answering 15 pop culture and general knowledge questions. That includes eleven contestants who have answered the final question and become instant millionaires.
Meanwhile, Cedric shared some lively banter with journalists in a conference call Tuesday from New York where he has already begun taping the new season.
How will your style differ from that of Regis and Meredith?
Regis has a great personality and the show was new and it was in primetime and he made it dramatic. Meredith operated with a more loving, nurturing personality, making the contestants feel real warmth. I’m going for a combination of the two and hope to add a bit more humor to it. I plan on encouraging people to play the game as well as have a good time. I hope to respond to the answers with humorous comments and I think you’ll see the show become a little more upbeat and exciting.
Have you spoken to either one of them about the show?
I know both of them pretty well, but I haven’t talked to them. We were supposed to see each other at a recent event but that didn’t happen. I love the way they both presented and like I said I hope to add my own brand of humor to the show.
What about Steve Harvey?
He was one of the first people I called. His advice was to just relax and be yourself. He said you’d be going into a lot of homes where people haven’t seen you before. Let people come to you; which I thought was great advice because when you’re hosting a game show you don’t know whether you might want to put on that trademark game show voice…HI I’M CEDRIC THE ENTERTAINER! Steve said, ‘yeah don’t do that.’
Are you a trivia fan yourself and how do you think you might do on the show?
I’m not a person who plays a lot of trivia games, however I do think I’m smarter than most people — just playing. No, that’s the exciting thing about this show; it’s based on all those little things you think you know and have in your head. Most of us have a little bit of knowledge so we watch the show and think we can win. [Thus] I’m excited about being the host and being the guy that will be coming into American homes on a daily basis.
[As for Cedric the contestant] I like to think I could answer any of the first three questions, but I’d be weak in anything after that. So if it’s about Shakespeare or 18th century emperors then I’m going to be totally guessing.
What has surprised you in your tapings so far?
I think one major thing; the seriousness of what happens when people realize they have an opportunity to win life-changing money. We had some big winners yesterday and you see them playing the game really loose having a good time, but then feel the anxiety in that moment. The crowd want to jump in and you see the contestants get really serious about what they are about to do.
Now you’re in New York where do you get your grub on?
I go to Del Frisco’s Steak House (midtown Manhattan), that’s one of the first places; they don’t have one in L.A. I discovered it here and my kids love it. I’m just trying all sorts of places, there’s a lot of great food in this town. [Unfortunately] it’s not gonna help my waistline. I’m old school so I also love Sylvia’s in Harlem, gotta get my wings, greens, beans and all that.
With your film acting and producing career, your TV show “The Soul Man” and stand up performances, how will you fit it all in?
This is actually great for me because we do a bunch of shows back to back and shoot in a short timespan, so I can put a movie on my schedule for the winter. With “The Soul Man” being on a cable network they don’t have regular seasons so we just kind of schedule them around when I’m available. You saw that with “The Sopranos” and “Entourage,” which had the ability of moving their seasons around.
Cedric is the new host of WWTBAM. Courtesy of ABC Disney