Russian gameshow weighs anchors

Special lineup targets competish

MOSCOW — Some of Russia’s top TV figures will soon find themselves on the other side of the broadcasting fence.

Territory’s Dec. 31 edition of hit gameshow “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” — or “O Schastlivchik!” (Oh, Lucky Man!) as it’s called locally — will be an unusual one: Contestants will be 10 anchors from host channel NTV.

The special lineup should increase auds in the most competitive night of Russia’s broadcasting year, for a show which has already jumped to the top line of ratings since its Oct. 1 launch.

It initially aired on main commercial channel in a 10:45 p.m. slot, but from the end of November moved to primetime, at 8 p.m. on Thursdays.

Already “O Schastlivchik!” is battling against another much longer established gameshow, “Pole Chudes” (the local version of “Wheel of Fortune”), for Russia’s top TV audience rating.

Aside from the fact that prize money for the Russian show doesn’t match any of creator-formatter Celador’s other 12 international versions — 1 million rubles comes in at about $37,000 — there have been plenty of local quirks for the show’s producers to overcome, including overcoming audience suspicion that contestants have been chosen because they’re friends of those involved with producing the show and a reluctance from audiences to come to the aid of those who appeal to them for help, reflecting a local attitude that would rather see no one win, if you can’t win yourself.

As a result host Dmitry Dibrov has taken to asking studio auds to be considerate to contestants.

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