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'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire' (ABC)
Premiered: August 16, 1999
AKA "Who Wants to Kill the Golden Goose." Little was expected of this adaptation of the popular British game show, hosted by Regis Philbin, which was initially set for a brief summer run. Instead, it was such a huge hit that ABC eventually devoted five hours a week to the series, making "Is that your final answer?" a national catchphrase, turning Regis' tone-on-tone wardrobe into de rigeur men's fashion, and making Kathie Lee Gifford such an afterthought on "Live with Regis and Kathie Lee" (where she had once been the unequivocal star) that she quit within a year of the "Millionaire" debut. But by airing so many episodes of "Millionaire" per week, ABC not only burnt out the sweeping interest in the series, but made it impossible to develop new hits for the moment that the bubble inevitably burst. "Millionaire" still lives on in a daily syndicated version (Cedric the Entertainer takes over as host this fall), but the primetime version ended its regular run in 2002.
- Alan Sepinwall