''Who Wants to Be a Millionaire'' producers seem to think so

By Tricia Johnson
Updated December 06, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST
Walter McBride/Retna

Here’s a $64,000 question: Why didn’t anyone select Ben Stein as a lifeline on ABC’s ”Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”? After all, the Yale-trained host of Comedy Central’s ”Win Ben Stein’s Money” is a walking ”Encyclopaedia Britannica.” EW asked Stein himself, and it turns out the egghead WAS recently contacted by a woman who claimed to be a contestant.

”A total stranger e-mailed me,” says Stein. ”I said I would do it, but then she said the producers [of ”Millionaire”] wouldn’t let her.” ABC didn’t return calls regarding the alleged Stein ban, but the know-it-all host thinks he’s got it figured out. ”I think I’m beyond amateur status in this area of answering questions quickly on television,” says Stein, whose show launched a new season Nov. 29. ”I’m known to be sort of a ringer.”