Audience hopefuls answer casting call

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 2, 2005

The opportunity to become part of a new fulfillment-based reality show, set to air on ABC-TV, drew a cross-section of Greenvillians to the Greenville High School Cafeteria Wednesday afternoon and evening.

Nearly 200 hopefuls, of all ages and walks of life, showed up to fill out applications for "My Kind of Town."

Some also showed off their special and unique talents for videotaping.

"We had a lot of great talent. There were singers, rappers, dancers, people reciting poetry, magic acts…and a few crazy things, too. One guy put a string through his nose and pulled it out of his mouth – now, that was interesting," Barbara Philpot of the Mayor's Office said with a laugh.

Smiles, frowns, giggles – and a few puzzled looks – were exhibited as applicants mulled over the questionnaire each was required to fill out.

The lengthy form covered such subjects as their most embarrassing moment in town, what they were most noted for in high school, the unique (and annoying) qualities of their neighbors, and the person they felt was the most interesting "character" in town.

The production plans to bring 200 people from small towns across America to New York to star in their own show for a single, memorable night.

A lucky handful of those audience members will get to participate in individualized comedic games and gags tailored to their lives, interests, and needs (hence the extensive questionnaire).

One person is chosen to play the big end game, where he or she will shoulder the burden of either winning, or losing, a huge prize for the other 199 audience members.

The possibility of gaining "15 minutes of fame" was simply too irresistible for some to pass up.

"Hey, I want to be on TV," said local salon owner Kristi Mayes with a grin.

For Amy Killough, a chance to experience the Big Apple was too good to pass up.

"I've always wanted to see New York – and I'd like to see what kind of talent Greenville has," said.

Just Julie's Coffee Shop Manager, Rebecca Richardson, also wants to pay a visit to America's biggest city.

"I've never been there," she said.

Taylor Autrey, daughter of Just Julie's owner, Jan Autrey, has already visited the "bright lights, big city," but says she is ready to go again.

"I liked seeing the Broadway shows, seeing all the lights – and shopping," Taylor said.

While everyone expressed excitement at the possibility of Greenville being in the national spotlight, some also shared concerns about exactly how the city would be represented by the network.

"I just hope they don't try to make us look like a bunch of hicks. It's hard to tell, sometimes, with these reality shows," applicant Susan Murphy said.

While Greenville fell a little short of the goal of 200 potential studio audience members, Philpot believes the Camellia City still has a "really good chance" to make it into the finals.

"We were very close to the mark. Also, several people took applications home. We had some additional applications dropped off today we are going to mail in," Philpot said.

She believes the time of year affected Wednesday's turnout.

"This is summertime, after all. Quite a few people are out of town on vacation right now. Several of them would have been here otherwise, and they probably will be involved in the taping,

assuming we are chosen," Philpot said.

According to Philpot, Greenville definitely made a good impression on the reality show scouts, Megan Miguez and Becky Lewis, during their two visits to the city.

"The scouts were very, very impressed with Greenville. They kept talking about what a pretty town it was, what a really nice school we had, and commenting on our southern hospitality. They seemed very pleased with how everything went at the casting call," Philpot said.

She said Greenville was the only town in the state picked for a casting call.

If the city is picked as a finalist, the taping for the show will take place sometime in late July, Philpot said. An initial order of six episodes of "My Kind of Town" is currently in place.

"We should know if we are being picked up for the show by the end of next week," Philpot said.