Reality TV finding stars in Chandler
Ryan Gabrielson, Tribune
April 10, 2009 - 10:14PM , updated: April 11, 2009 - 5:32PM THE
WAY TO FAME? Chandler appears to be turning into a reality show casting
hot spot. "Big Brother" was searching for contestants at Dos Gringos,
April 11, 2009
Ryan Linford knows someone who knows
someone who’s on a reality TV show. The Chandler information technology
specialist has no interest in exposure, or even in watching people he
knows on the relatively unscripted dramas.
“I’d rather watch a real show,” he said.
for Linford and many others living and working in Chandler, the degrees
of separation between regular folks and temporarily famous reality
television stars are shrinking fast.
Aspiring entertainers no
longer must transport themselves to the California coast. They now
audition for national shows across America, hours or minutes from home.
Chandler is increasingly among the cities serving as Hollywood’s understudy.
On Saturday, the CBS reality show “Big Brother” held one of its 11 open casting calls in Chandler.
cable network, TV Land, made Chandler High School’s graduating class of
1988 the subject of its reality series, “High School Reunion.”
few years ago, when NBC resurrected the obstacle course extravaganza
“American Gladiator,” recruiters searched out potential spandex
warriors in the city known more for computer chips than fitness.
Linford and his wife, Erin, are friends with a Chandler High alum whose classmates were on “Reunion.”
“It’s really funny to see these people he went to high school with all on TV,” said Erin Linford.
what makes Chandler — a Phoenix suburb, less hip than Tempe and less
glitzy than Scottsdale — a veritable hotbed for reality stars?
a very good question,” said Shawn Mitchell, chief executive at HNE
Casting in Los Angeles, which specializes in booking reality shows.
has seen Chandler listed on a number of casting calls but said he isn’t
sure what draws reality show producers to the East Valley.
People-watching at Chandler Fashion Center on Friday, Paul Rossi speculated that the passers-by might be luring casting agents.
“Definitely, they’re good looking,” Rossi said.
Chandler, more than other Valley cities, is a desirable locale to find cast members, he said. “Scottsdale is full of posers.”
But sorry, Chandlerites. Reality shows are not specifically looking for you and your neighbors.
The arrival of “Big Brother” in Chandler was a coincidence.
Ullinskey, casting producer for the CBS show, said she needed a good
venue to house hundreds of potential television personalities. As an
Arizona native, Ullinskey knew the managers at Dos Gringos, a local
chain of Mexican cantinas, and arranged to use their Chandler
“It’s not necessarily a city or a type of people,
because people might even come in from Colorado for this open call,”
Ullinskey said. Some drive nine hours to audition.
Scottsdale, Tempe and Phoenix have all also hosted auditions for a slew
of programs, including NBC’s “The Biggest Loser,” Fox’s “American Idol”
and MTV’s “The Real World.”
Valley residents have repeatedly
made their way onto reality show casts since the genre came to dominate
prime time a decade ago.
That likely has much to do with the
Valley’s rocketing population growth. The resulting buzz of new
residents has given Phoenix and its surrounding cities a higher profile
nationally, Ullinskey said, which puts it on casting agents’ list of
places to visit.
“We don’t want an entire show of everyone from
one city,” she said. “We want to get the entire United States
represented in the show.”
Without a hometown advantage, Chandler
residents need to find other ways to boost their reality show appeal.
“Big Brother” hopefuls must complete a 13-page questionnaire more
resembling an FBI background check than a job application.
Producers want all the basic information — name, gender, Facebook address.
Then they delve deeper.
Do you get along with your Mom? When was the last time you faced aggravated assault charges? What’s your swimsuit size?
there is the standard inquiry: “Are there any nude or other revealing
or compromising images of you that are available publicly either
through the Internet, video or otherwise?”
Personality and individuals’ world view are what count most for reality shows, Mitchell said.
lot of the time they’re looking to mix it up instead of just big city
folks all the time,” he said. “They want diversity between small-town
people, with different outlooks on life.”
Which is, of course, why the application asks for swimsuit size. web page