On the Record
Apr 14, 2009 | 20792 views | 0 0 comments | 894 894 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ridgewood resident Risa Schiff watched the popular television show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire every day for a very long time before she finally got the gumption to try out for the program.

Once she did, it was only a matter of days before she found herself in the hot seat opposite show host Meredith Vieira, a real-life contestant playing for a cool million dollars and a shot at (temporary) T.V. stardom.

"I was looking for something to do," said Schiff in an interview after competing on the show, in the days before her episode is set to air on ABC. "It was kind of a dare to myself."

Schiff, a 52-year-old grandmother of four and artist who makes art out of trash, was born and raised in California. She spent much of her adult life in Minnesota, before moving to Ridgewood with her husband, who spent his formative years in Western Queens.

The jovial grandma, who admits to a fear of public speaking, said trying out for the show was so out of character it shocked her family members. Once they got over the initial jolt, however, Schiff said they supported her all the way.

Schiff said she recently went to a WABC studio in Manhattan to take the qualifying test for contestants. She scored well, because immediately after taking it she was invited to do a brief onscreen audition. She was later picked to go on the show.

The entire process, Schiff said, was amazingly quick. "If I can get through [the selection process] anyone can do it," said Schiff.

But enough - let's move onto the show. Oh wait, we can't, really. Schiff is not allowed to talk about how she did - or reveal how much money she won - until the show airs. Millionaire guidelines, sorry.

So readers will have to content themselves with a behind-the-scenes peak at the show that has gripped American audiences for so long.

"Anybody that reads anything about Millionaire should know that the most fun you're going to have is in the Green Room," said Schiff. She described a laid-back interior chamber filled with nice people, good food, and other friendly contestants eager to wish their rivals good luck on the air.

Schiff said her on-air highlights included speaking with pre-arranged expert Bill Nye the Science Guy, competing before her sister and daughter, who attended the session, and listing her husband and two of her sons as potential "Phone A Friends" lifelines in case she found herself in trouble.

Which, of course, she might or might not have gotten herself into. To see how Ridgewood's own made out, tune into the show's April 20, 12:30 p.m. WABC broadcast.

"No matter how much money you win you have a good time," Schiff said. "It’s just a good experience."

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