Oh Wendy ~where you there ??
Hopeful Pittsburghers audition for "Survivor"
Justin Robinson/Photo Editor
By BRIAN PALMER and
June 16, 2004
Going on its 10th season, the reality television program "Survivor" has a ridiculously large audience. Its draw is enough to bring people from Pittsburgh, as well as every major city across the nation, running out to participate in open auditions.
What does it take to audition for "Survivor?"
A tolerance for the smell of fish and other various seafood aromas -- if you're auditioning in Pittsburgh, at least.
Open auditions for the show took place Tuesday in the upper level of Wholey's Fish Market in the Strip District. If applicants had expectations of spearing fish and eating them raw to show off their survival skills, they were let down. Starting at 9 a.m. and continuing until 5 p.m., anxious hopefuls filled out an extensive application in a setting that smelled rather fishy.
Application questions ranged from mundane to interesting: "What is you current occupation?" "What is your favorite topic of conversation at a dinner party?" "If you were stranded, who would you most want to be stranded with?"
But if you felt that the questions didn't show off your true character, then perhaps the filmed interview portion of the application process was more appealing. Several staff members from KDKA set up cameras and fake trees where the applicants were able to talk freely for two minutes, spilling whatever they wanted to spill to the "Survivor" casting directors via VHS.
In other words, if you were wishing for the host of "Survivor," Jeff Probst, to be in attendance, you would have been disappointed.
That's right. There were no casting directors from the actual show present to conduct interviews at the open auditions. Though some applicants were close to tears with trembling hands, others were full of confidence.
Laurel Rimel, a 36-year-old mother from Acme, Pa., felt she'd be perfect for "Survivor." She's already spent time in the jungle, living and giving birth to a son, in the forests of Hawaii.
The small turnout at Wholey's boosted Rimel's confidence in her chances. So did her son, who stood by with Rimel's husband for support.
People of all ages, shapes and sizes filled the room of applicants. Some were more confident than others, yet all were anxious with hopes of making the cast of the new season of "Survivor."
Rimel's husband and son weren't the only applicants' family members who came for support.
Philip Wicks, 54, of Butler, Pa., was accompanied by his 14-year-old niece, who coached him during the pre-filming minutes. While he's a fan of "Survivor," Wicks is really just looking for a way out of Pittsburgh.
"I'm stuck in a rut right now. It'd be nice to get the chance to get out," he said.
Wearing faded jeans, Timberland boots and a hopeful smile, Wicks appeared to be the rugged fatherly figure every cast of "Survivor" seems to possess.
If only there would have been personal interviews conducted by casting directors, then maybe the true spirit of "Survivor" would have been demonstrated. Like eating a bug for instance. Would these hopefuls be up for that?
"I would, definitely," said Tanya Senur, a 26-year-old resident of Butler, Pa., who did her two-minute audition sporting a pink T-shirt with the words "Pick Me For Survivor 10" printed on the front and back of her shirt.
"I'll do anything for a million dollars," she said
Across the room sat Dave Alexander, 25, of Oakland, also disappointed by the audition's lack of adventure. Perhaps a mouthful of worms would have widened his smile. Nevertheless, Alexander was taking a chance to win some money.
"I dropped out of college because I didn't have enough [money] to continue. If I won the million, I would use it to go back to school," he said.
After the auditions are handed over to "Survivor" casting directors, the applicants that are of interest will be notified for a callback, where they will get to interview face-to-face with someone from the show. If they make it past that interview, they'll move on to Los Angeles. One final interview after that and they may be the new face that everyone watches on next season's "Survivor." http://www.pittnews.com/vnews/display.v/ART/2004/06/16/40cfb511f1eff
Surviving the auditions - Hopefuls wait for chance at fame, $1 million
By Ellena F. Morrison - Star-Telegram Staff Writer
Posted Saturday, June 19, 2004
A line of hot, sweaty people snaked in front of and around Big Buck Brewery & Steakhouse on Wednesday, most clutching a Survivor application, a photo and a plan for capturing $1 million.
"This is a reward challenge right here," said Jill Brandenburg of Carroll, referring to the long line and heat that 600 to 700 applicants endured during the Survivor 10: Top Secret Location open casting call.
And, hey, who wouldn't want to wait more than three hours for an opportunity to do the kinds of things necessary to win on Survivor: sleep on the ground, eat bugs and wear the same clothes for more than a month? Of course, there is the chance for the $1 million Survivor grand prize and proverbial 15 minutes of fame.
"I need the adventure, and I need the money," said Shirley Wylie of Breckenridge. "And a friend told me I couldn't do it."
Texas has been well-represented in the previous eight seasons of the popular CBS reality show, which strands 16 players at a remote location and lets the viewing audience watch as physical challenges and emotional backstabbing whittle them down to one ultimate Survivor.
But few rested on their Texas twangs to grab the attention of producers. Many donned survivor garb (bandannas and L.L. Bean outdoor wear) or tried other eye-catching techniques.
Wolana "Yo" Britt, who drove from Kingston, Okla., dressed as a cannibal in honor of Season 9: Vanuatu, which will air this fall. Vanuatu has a long and hungry history.
"I also sent in a videotape which has me pretending to eat a foot," said Britt, wearing a grass skirt and holding a plastic skull and fake machete.
Just as a lack of sleep, insects and an assortment of often-grating personalities create drama on the series, group dynamics played out during the application process.
"I want a million dollars," said perky Grapevine resident Heather Lunsford. "I am totally different. I am overconfident."
Another hopeful, Pat Lancaster of Dallas, smirked.
"We were calling it high-maintenance," Lancaster said, laughing. He described his character as similar to Rupert, one of the favorite players from Survivor 8: Pearl Islands.
"But I play like Jonny," he said, referring to another player from the same season who lied and backstabbed his way to the final three.
Busy thinking of the money, few applicants were considering the fact that Survivor is usually in a beautiful, but isolated and primitive area. Showers are unavailable. Pillows are a luxury. And fast food is often whatever critters the players catch.
"Toilet paper would be a bit of an issue," said Scott Davis of Richardson.
Sherman resident Mike Morrison described himself as the ultimate survivor, with a wife and three daughters.
"Even the dogs are female," he joked. "The birds are female. The cat is female. I need to get on the show just to be around men."
Anyone 21 or older with a driver's license, photo and proof of U.S. citizenship could apply. Those with enough charisma and lack of personal hygiene hangups could be chosen to advance to the semifinals in July, and then the finals.
And all that's before the first castaway is voted offhttp://www.dfw.com/mld/dfw/news/local/states/texas/northeast/8944404.htm?1c
Wolana "Yo" Britt, dressed as a machete-wielding cannibal, came from Kingston, Okla., in hopes of landing a spot on Survivor.
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