Ryan Seacrest is back on network TV a little early this season.
No, "American Idol" isn't trying a fall cycle, nor is Seacrest taking over as host of "The X Factor." Actually, he's part of something entirely new with NBC's "The Million Second Quiz," which kicks off on Monday night.
Of course, there's nothing new about trivia-based game shows, but this one has a really unique twist: you. The folks playing along through the "Million Second Quiz" app or online game have a chance to land themselves on the show during the two-week television event.
"There will be about 1,000 contestants that will take part in the competition," creator and executive producer Stephen Lambert said at a recent press event. "People who are playing the app at home, if they meet certain [point] thresholds, every night in primetime, somebody somewhere in the country will be chosen as what we call a 'line jumper.' We'll knock on their door live and tell them, 'Tomorrow night, you're going to be in the primetime show.'"
"One of the things I loved about the show is the volume of people who can come through and play it," Seacrest said. "I think that's great – it opens up the door."
The game itself is simple, at least according to Lambert. "You sit in the Money Chair. You try to stay there as long as possible. If you're one of the four people at any one point in the show who's spent more time in the money chair and therefore earned more money than anybody else, you're going to live in Winners' Row. If somebody then subsequently spends longer on the money chair than you did, then you get eliminated … The four people who are still there at the end of the million seconds, they're guaranteed to cash in their earnings and they also then compete for a jackpot prize of at least another $2 million."
Here are a few more things you need to know about the show … by the numbers.
1,000,000 Seconds: It's not just the title, it's the duration of game play.
10 Nights: That's how many live shows you'll get to watch.
24 Hours: Just how long players will be eligible to play the game per day.
3 Stories: Height of the outdoor hourglass structure built on the rooftop of a former Mercedes-Benz car dealership in midtown Manhattan where gameplay will take place during primetime. "It's the perfect location for us because when you see it from the roof, the view you get of New York – the Empire State Building, the New York Times – it's just a fantastic view," Lambert gushed.
1 Money Chair: The place the leading contestants will sit to play as others continue to challenge them. "The longer they stay in that Money Chair, the more money they could get, the better off they'll be," Seacrest explained.
4 People: The contestants who will earn the right to eat, sleep, and play on set in Winners Row. These will be the show's current leaders and you can watch them try to stay awake streaming live on NBC.com. "Not only is this a giant quiz show live, but the social experience of having these people who have had to leave the kids at home, take days off work as they go after this endurance prize and hope that they're the last people there when the million seconds are up," explained creator and executive producer David A. Hurwitz.
$10: Amount the person in the Money Chair can earn per second. "If somebody was able to stay in the Money Chair for the whole time from the very beginning, they will earn $10 million. But we think it's unlikely that anybody will do that," Lambert said.
$854,000: The approximate amount of money a contestant can potentially win in a single day.
$2 Million: Minimum amount of prize money the big winner will take home. "It's definitely intense when you're talking about this kind of money," Seacrest said.
25,000 Questions: Yep, that's how many quiz questions have already been written for the show, with more in the works. There will also be questions written during the days of the show based on current events.
4 Decades: How long it's been since a live quiz show was on the air in the United States.
1 Last Guarantee: Seacrest admitted he couldn't promise much about his role on the show, not even if he'd be charming, as Lambert asked. "I will be short, I guarantee you that. I will be shorter than most of them."
"The Million Second Quiz" premieres on Monday at 8 p.m. on NBC and will air for the next two weeks, with the two-hour finale slated for Thursday, Sept. 19.
- Ryan Seacrest