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Cedric the Entertainer Offers 5 Things to Know About 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire'

"I just mainly want to be as sharply dressed as Regis [Philbin] and hug and kiss as many people as Meredith [Vieira]," the comic quips of the game show's former hosts.

TELEVISION: Cedric the Entertainer
Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images
Cedric the Entertainer

Cedric the Entertainer didn’t need any lifelines Sunday as he fielded questions from a room full of reporters.

The veteran comic was on hand to peddle his latest small-screen project, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, at the Television Critics Association’s semi-annual press tour. His iteration of the long-running game show will bow Sept. 2, and he says viewers should expect “a lot more fun.”

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Here are the five things Cedric and his executive producer Rich Sirop suggested are in store:

1. Expect More Excitement

Asked what Cedric will take from his predecessors, Regis Philbin and Meredith Vieira, the comedian quips: “I just mainly want to be as sharply dressed as Regis and hug and kiss as many people as Meredith.” He continues by praising Vieira’s passion and kindness and Philbin’s wit, but notes that his version of Millionaire will have him out of his seat and offering “more fun and excitement throughout the show.” What’s more, he’d like to open up the series to contestants “from all zip codes,” he says, adding: “I’m not expecting everyone to be a rocket scientist because I’m going to ask you questions from Hamlet to Honey Boo Boo.”

2. There’s Funny in There

Since Sirop took over Millionaire three years ago, the exec producer has made a concerted effort to inject more humor into the long-running game show. In fact, the show’s writing staff includes a former head writer from Saturday Night Live’s "Weekend Update." The goal in doing so is to appeal to a broader audience. “We’d ask you about a line from Shakespeare,” Sirop says of the way the daytime show would have posed a question years earlier. “Now, we’d ask you which one of these is a line from Shakespeare and not Britney Spears.”

3. He Can Be Himself

Cedric suggests that Steve Harvey’s winning turn on Family Feud served as inspiration for him. That comedians, including Drew Carey (The Price Is Right) and Jeff Foxworthy (Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?), have found success with the game-show format was similarly compelling. As he sees it, the genre allows comedians to “be ourselves,” which is to say that they can joke with the audience as they go through the game.

4. Game Shows in his Blood

The comedian insists he’s been a fan of game shows for much of his life. He ticks off former series including Match Game, Press Your Luck and Whammy! as some of his personal favorites. As for Millionaire, he says he’s been both a viewer and a fan of that show, too, though he’s been surprised at how much harder it is once you’re in the hot seat, as his contestants will be. He admits that before his recent trial runs, he was convinced he should have won $8 million by now.  

5. Cedric Will Be Cedric

Between August and November, the comic will be shooting -- and banking -- five shows a day in New York. The location, he says, should help his stand-up act, too, as the melting pot of New York City’s streets can provide potential fodder. As for his style, he says to expect tailored suits and plenty of his trademark hats.