‘Millionaire’ Snubs and Olympians

Whether the Olympics or network television, it’s a cutthroat world out there. This from ABC’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” files: NBC and CBS are reportedly asking their network stars to not appear on special celebrity episodes of the Regis Philbin phenom, Daily Variety reports.

But viewers will be treated to 10 former U.S. Olympic athletes.

Last spring, funnyman Ray Romano from CBS’ “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “X-Files” G-man David Duchovny of Fox, and Vivica A. Fox from the CBS series “City of Angels” appeared on “Millionaire” alongside such notables as Lance Bass of ‘N Sync and Queen Latifah to high ratings.

Variety reports that Martin Sheen of NBC’s “The West Wing” and Conan O’Brien tentatively agreed to appear this time around but backed out after NBC officials suggested otherwise.

The scheduled TV celebrities so far are all from ABC, of course: “Spin City’s” Charlie Sheen, “The Drew Carey Show’s” Drew Carey and Joy Behar of the daytime talker “The View.” They’ll appear alongside Alec Baldwin and Sean “Puffy” Combs.

But if waiting around for the celebrity episodes proves too much, ABC has something else up its sleeves: See 10 former U.S. Olympians with Regis!

Each jock, some of whom will probably be seen by more viewers on the gameshow than during their Olympics events on NBC, will receive a guaranteed $16,000 for their appearances, ABC said.

The scheduled Olympians are: swimmers Lenny Krayzelburg, Jenny Thompson, Gary Hall Jr. and Dana Torres; runner Maurice Green; basketball player Lisa Leslie; soccer player Julie Foudy; pole vaulter Stacy Dragila; diver Laura Wilkinson; and wrestler Rulon Gardner.

The two special Olympic editions will air Oct. 22 and 24. Half of the winnings will go to charity, the other wherever the athletes desire.

And the Olympic spirit lives on.