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Getting the Drill
From the creator of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? comes a
sports-trivia game show bidding to be the genre's Jeopardy!

What if you took the most harrowing experience of your life and
from it created a game show? (Someone has, you say: Blind Date.)
"When I was 18, I faced an academic inquisition," says British
native Michael Davies. "I sat before a review board for half an
hour for my entrance exam at Oxford." Davies wound up
matriculating at the University of Edinburgh and has made
something of himself, considering that he became the executive
producer of the worldwide smash game show Who Wants to Be a
Millionaire? Now, collaborating with Win Ben Stein's Money
creator Andrew Golden, Davies has come up with 2-Minute Drill, a
sports game show. Beginning this week, the show, hosted by
SportsCenter's Kenny Mayne, will appear on Mondays at 7 p.m. on
ESPN; a weekly Thursday show will be added starting on Oct. 12.

2-Minute Drill is a 51-player (all male, natch) tournament. In
the first round, three contestants vie, with two advancing;
succeeding rounds pit two contestants. As for the format, "it's
based on the same idea as that review board," says Davies. "Each
contestant sits before a panel of experts--in this case, athletes
and ESPN personalities--and answers as many questions as he can in
two minutes." (Example: Who is the youngest major leaguer to
reach 400 home runs? Answer: Ken Griffey Jr.) The victor receives
$5,000 (which can be doubled if he correctly answers a bonus
question). The overall tournament's winner, to be determined on a
Christmas Day show, is guaranteed $100,000 and could earn as much
as $200,000 if he nails all his bonus questions. The bonus round
separates the knowledgeable from the hard core. At one taping
last week, the bonus question was: In Super Bowl XXI, the Giants
ran a flea-flicker. Who were the quarterback, the running back
and the wide receiver involved, and for how many yards--within
two--did it go? Answer: Phil Simms, Joe Morris, Phil McConkey, 44.

Traditionally, sports game shows are lame shows. But with viewers
sure to play along (as they do with Millionaire) and the suspense
of the tournament structure, Davies seems to have drafted a
winner in 2-Minute Drill. Moreover, in Mayne, he has a host whose
dry wit is perfectly suited for the genre. Yet if you tune in you
may wonder the same thing I did: How many of these contestants
will someday appear on Blind Date? --J.W.

It may have reached No. 1, but we can't yell it proud about Bring
It On

The girls on the five-time national champion Rancho Carne High
cheerleading squad have sharp tongues to complement their nubile
figures. Thus, they chirp such put-downs as, "She puts the 'ass'
in massive" and "She puts the 'lude' in deluded" as easily as
they perform back handsprings. Did the cheerleaders at your high
school possess such caustic wit? Neither did ours. Somehow Bring
It On, which stars Kirsten Dunst as earnest cheer captain
Torrance Shipman, was the nation's top-grossing film in its first
weekend in release, earning $17.4 million. Why? Two clues. Gimme
a T! Gimme an A! What does that spell? (A PG-13 rating, insuring
the patronage of the junior high set, helped.)

Like a poorly done sideline routine, Bring It On seems unfocused
and unsure of itself. Is it a satire, like Clueless? The campy
opening number ("We cheer as we lead/We act like we're on
speed"), which is the film's zenith, would suggest that
approach. Is it a racial struggle, like West Side Story? Seems
the upper-middle-class Rancho Carne unit has built its dynasty
by stealing the routines of an inner-city high school squad.
(Hey, copying black artists worked for the Rolling Stones.) Or
is it a celebration of a niche sport that builds to a climactic
championship scene, like The Karate Kid? Who knows? We do know
that Bring It On puts the pomposity in pom-poms. Or, as one
neophyte to the "sport" exclaims incredulously, "Wait! People
cheering cheerleaders!?"

On a scale of two bits-four bits-six bits-a dollar, we give
Bring It On four bits.


COLOR PHOTO: KEVIN MAZUR Mayne (center) is joined on an early show by questioners (from left) Tony Dorsett, Marcus Camby, Rich Eisen and Robert Wuhl.