Meredith Vieira Preps to Play Regis

09/12/2002 AT 01:35 PM EDT

Already, Meredith Vieira is getting the Regis Philbin treatment.

According to the Associated Press, Vieira, 50, who next Monday begins hosting a new daytime syndicated version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," says she was in a restaurant ordering dinner with friends when one asked her, "Is that your final answer?"

Vieira, already a hostess on ABC's "The View," joked that she wanted to toss her drink at her friend -- but she stayed cool. She also says she now understands what the primetime "Millionaire" host, Philbin, probably went through.

Previewing what's in store for the daytime incarnation, Vieira tells AP Radio: "At this point, they have no intention of having celebrity versions. I think they want to get back to the roots of the show."

Those roots, she said, include the fact that "the very first contestant for this new weekday version ... is a New York City firefighter. It's regular people for whom winning this kind of money is life-changing."

Among the other changes: Players will no longer be subjected to the "fastest finger" contest. Instead, this will be a kinder, gentler "Millionaire."

Said Vieira: "Those who pass the audition and the interview process end up on the hot seat. So those who come to New York to play 'Millionaire,' you will play 'Millionaire.'"

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