Friday, March 19, 2010

Basketball Days

CBS coverage of the NCAA Basketball tournament preempts KTAB Noontab two days each year. It's strange for the news department. It means two short work days and an easy week here in this third week of March. That's a welcome little break. Some of us haven't taken any time off since the Christmas holidays. Naps are great! On the other hand, we do news. We get paid to do news. We like to do news. It's important for us to do news. It's a little bit frustrating and confusing to be ready to do the news and not to have our usual access to the TV station to put on the news. As I write this, my day has actually been over for almost an hour, but I'm still here...looking for newsworthy information that I would be producing if we had a noon newscast today. I'm also a sports fan, and the first day of this year's tournament had a lot of upsets and big surprises. I guess I'll just go home and watch basketball with many of the rest of you.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

How I got on Wheel of Fortune

Category is... Headline:
Wheel of Fortune is holding open auditions this weekend in Dallas and Fort Worth! This blog has all the information you'll need if you're planning on hitting up the Dallas Convention Center on Saturday or Billy Bob's Texas on Sunday. Make sure you click that link, because it has really important information.

So, yes, 10 years ago I was a contestant on Wheel of Fortune. I don't really go around talking about it a lot because it makes for very fun trivia or an upper hand in ice breaker games where you have to say something unique about yourself. BUT, I'm armed with quite a bit of knowledge on the audition process, so I'll go ahead and share.

Be prepared to be blended in among the several thousand other people who will be there. The only people who actually get to audition in a speed-up round are those whose names are drawn via raffle. If you do get selected, they want people who first and foremost are good at the game. Practice playing hangman or find an online version of the game. Secondly, they really want people who will react loudly to winning. Clap, jump, yell, celebrate... But remember, it's not the Price is Right. They also want people with big personalities who aren't shy and won't clam up. Here's how it happened for me:

Category is... People
My college roommate and I had just met each other one month prior to the Best Friends Week Dallas audition at the University of North Texas, and she convinced me that we could sell ourselves as "best friends." I was more than excited about a shot at Big Money Big Money, because the group I was in had ambitiously pledged $100,000 to help build an infectious diseases clinic in Cameroon, and fundraising efforts weren't going so well. So, why not give a game show a shot?

I woke up early and stood in line outside the auditorium, while Best Friend Michelle took her time waking up, then lazily wandered to the center of campus and walked in to the auditorium. Thank God! She met one of the show's big wigs, Lisa Dee, and talked to her about what they were looking for in a contestant. Armed with this insider information, we were sure we had a shot.

Category is... Event
So we were shuffled into the auditorium, a few hundred people at a time, to watch the auditions. Before the lucky auditioners were selected, they asked the audience a few trivia questions and handed out prizes. Michelle and I knew one of the answers, grabbed each other's hand to form a big W, and got it right. We won hats, tshirts, a fanny pack (eek!) and a computer game, which came in handy for practice later. They did not choose us out of the big raffle basket, so we watched the auditions, but were happy that they had noticed us in the audience. While we were watching, we drew a picture of ourselves doing a victory dance with Lisa Dee calling us to tell us we had been selected. We wrote down every single possible piece of contact information, and Michelle ran up at the end to hand Lisa the paper. We felt like SUCH cheaters, but just knew it would pay off!

Category is... Before and After
We waited on pins and needles for the callback. They gave us a window of time, but I don't recall how long after the initial audition that was. Then it happened. The contestant coordinator called and invited us to the callback audition! We practiced our victory dance, played hangman and our new computer game during every piece of free time, and showed up at the final audition. There were about 35 sets of friends there. We were briefed on ALL the strict rules and regulations, then given a test. Both partners had to pass the test in order to move on. This part made me nervous, because Michelle was the one with the personality, but I was the one with the Super Puzzle-Solving Skills. But, she passed. Everyone who passed played a mock game, complete with a little wheel and interviews about who you are, where you're from, and why you're best friends.

We must have done well because a few days later, Michelle's extra-large cell phone rang. We were headed to Dallas for the show.

So, here's the video. You may wonder why I'm alone, and that's definitely not a Dallas background. But this blog is about the audition process, not the twists and turns and drama that came after that :)