- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
 April 18, 2003 

Money for Nothing: Who wants to win 5,000,000 drams?

Some trends and phenomena from the West are faster reaching Armenia than others. But they get here eventually, as evidenced by a television commercial that began appearing recently on Shant TV:

"Who wants to be a millionaire?", the ad asks, echoing the rather rhetorical question that has been answered in 101 countries since 1998. Now, Armenia.

"Call 0 90 11 11 if you wish to win a million," the commercial teases.

Shant, one of Armenia's most popular stations, has obtained broadcast to the wildly successfully British quiz show and says it will begin the local version after evaluating the number of responses.

"Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" is already part of the TV culture in Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and Azerbaijan.

Local producer of the game Artashes Parsadanyan believes that Armenian society is not only ready for the show but has been waiting for it for a long time.

Actor Adamyan will ask the questions."The game hasn't failed in 101 countries. It enjoys big popularity everywhere. I don't think it will be different in our country," says Parsadanyan.

Its popularity may not be different, but the questions fired at contestants will be.

The difficult questions will be designed to test a contestant's knowledge of Armenian-related facts. Ashot Gomtsyan, who has previous game show experience, has been chosen as a special editor to come up with questions that will have relevance to the Armenian audience.

Since the show became a hit five years ago in Great Britain, it has offered contestants chances to win one million pounds sterling. When it jumped the ocean to America, the show offered $1 million. In Armenia, the payoff would be five million drams.

"The game itself is very versatile and our goal is to integrate the Armenian audience to the standards of the international show," Parsadanyan says.

Potential contestants call the advertised telephone number and give their qualifications for becoming a contestant. Also, a computer randomly selects a certain number of potential contestants. The final decision on players will be made by Shant executives who will choose eight contestants for the broadcast which will air twice each weekend.

The show's producer says Armenia will be successful audience 102.According to Shant's agreement made with the British owner of the show, the format will be the same as in Britain and other countries. The set will feature dramatic sound effects and lighting that emphasize the tension of trying to earn the big prize.

Actor Ashot Adamyan has been chosen as the show's emcee.

Hasmik Martirosyan, 37, from Yerevan says she has watched "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" on Russian public TV.

"I'm a big fan," Martirosyan says. "I never thought it would be in Armenia as well. It is an opportunity that must be made the most of."


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  Photo of the week
  Spring Rites
Click on the photo above to enlarge

Spring Rites

April 13 was "Tsaghkazard", known in other places as Palm Sunday, the week before Easter, marking the day Jesus entered Jerusalem. Here, part of the commemoration includes making wreaths from branches which are worn by young people and then placed in homes. The day is also the seventh Sunday of the Great Fast, as observed among the Armenian Apostolic Church.



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