Gregory Charette of Raymond described his appearance on TV’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” on Tuesday night as a dream come true, even though he didn’t get the million dollars.
When Charette, who works as a loan operations specialist at TD Bank in Lewiston, talks about the experience, it doesn’t seem like the money was the thrill.
“I’ve always wanted to live in the world in the TV set,” Charette, 44, said. “It’s something that has driven me since I was about 5 years old. And now I’ve done that.”
“It was one of the best 23 to 24 minutes of my life,” he said.
It doesn’t hurt that he did come away with nearly $18,000 in winnings.
The episode was filmed in November at JVC Studios in New York City and aired Tuesday night on NBC.
Charette started trying to get onto the show in 2000, traveling to New York during summers to audition and take practice tests as part of the show’s vetting process, he said. A few years of rejections didn’t deter him, nor did a close call with “Dancing with the Stars,” when the show asked him to come to New York, but ultimately did not select him to compete.
“People kept saying I was crazy, but I said, ‘You know, I’m going to keep trying,’” Charette said of the years of failed attempts to make the cut.
Finally, a “Millionaire” producer called him last October, asking him to come down to New York once more. Three weeks later, he was filming the show.
Charette was chosen to be on an episode during the show’s “Netflix Million Dollar Movie Week.” Charette, a self-described movie trivia expert, said that he thought he had a good chance.
“But it all depends on what lady luck draws your way,” he said. “There’s no way to prepare for it.” Charette said he memorized Oscar winning films and actors going back to the 1950s, but didn’t get any questions about about them on the show.
Charette answered the first five questions correctly, nailing details of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” “Pretty Woman,” and the horror series “Final Destination” with an exuberant, showman-like confidence. “Look at how excited you are,” host Meredith Vieira said.
But with $35,500 in earnings, Charette was stumped by back-to-back questions about the quirky underground hit “Napolean Dynamite” and Paul Giamatti’s 2004 “Sideways.” He said the correct answers out loud, but wasn’t positive, and jumped the questions.
When the next question, asking which of four films with the word “lady” in the title was oldest, left him clueless — he had heard of only one — he decided to bow out. The move cost him half of his winnings, and he left with $17,750.
Being on the show, he said, is “like being underwater. There’s no sound, no lights, and before you know it, they’re like ‘Oh, we’re sorry, thank you,’” and it’s all over.
“It’s totally different (playing along) at home. At home, you have nothing to lose,” he said.
Charette didn’t watch the show Tuesday night. “I’ve been kind of kicking myself since November,” he said, adding that he hadn’t used all his “life lines,” the hints and help from friends that a contestant can use if they don’t know an answer. “Coulda, woulda, shoulda,” he said.
“But I still won something, and it was a dream come true — 10 years in the making,” he said. Charette is now setting his sights on making the cast of the popular reality series “Survivor,” he said. “I’m on a kick of looking for uncommon experiences,” he explained.