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Adventures in Auditioning for Travel Channel

Alternative Title: “$111.00 in gas money, parking and fast food” (Sorry Sam, had to rip off your awesome blog title).

If you’re reading this post, congratulations – you got the password!

As you’re reading this, you should know I’m typing in my underwear (because I can), listening to the best of 2Unlimited (because I can) from my hotel room overlooking runways 25L and 25R at LAX. The soundproofing in here is divine. Then again, so are the mini glasses of wine I picked up at the Ralph’s from down the street.

 

Ever since my roller coaster “bender” trip of 2008, I have had a lingering thought – someone should PAY ME to have this much fun and share it with others. In that sense, that’s really when this whole “Great American Thrills” thing got started (officially it was Feb 13th, 2010 for legal reasons).

Fast forward to today. It’s pretty clear to those around me that I’ve got serious aspirations beyond reading the news once a week on the radio (on the weekend no less). I’ve always thought I had a decent on-air personality for television, so together with Nicholas, Robert, Andy and Barbara (plus Taylor on occasion) I’ve worked to hone my skills as an on-camera presenter.

So I made my way down here to Los Angeles this week to take a chance on fate.

THE ACTUAL EXPERIENCE:

Ironically, I would have never had found out about this opportunity had it not been for one of my worst enemies. Let’s just say there’s some interesting” personalities in our roller coaster community, and one of them from the midwest (who’s behavior was so reprehensible he was BANNED from all Six Flags’ properties) had uploaded a video in the hopes of being the next Travel Channel Star. Somehow, it caught my attention, and I found out about these open auditions in Santa Monica.

In a sick sort of way, I actually OWE him for this – amazing how ironic the world can be, huh?

The day had not started off that well – I had realized unpacking last night that I needed a belt. So I found the nearest Ross and styled up for less.

On route to my first scheduled appointment of the day in Glendale, I got stuck in L.A. traffic (shocking!) and was late to meet my good friend Andrew, who had just recently been hired by WDI.

After showing me to the cafeteria (I had a delicious burrito from the Taco Bar) he took me to the EXCLUSIVE Imagineering gift shop.

Big mistake.

When you’re an amusement or theme park fan, you’re automatically a Disney fan. Imagineering is the heart of the park operations – it’s where the magic is quite literally designed and tested before it goes into the parks.

The new limit on my AMEX card could have easily been tested. Thank God I didn’t see the really expensive stuff hanging up to the side of the register until after I bought my items. Perhaps I’ll come back again when I’m rich and famous and contribute to Andrew’s salary in a much larger way.

Since I was in the Glendale / Burbank area, I decided to make an old fashioned cold call to KCET, one of the largest independent TV stations in the nation, and former home to the great champion of California, the one and only Huell Howser. With a DVD of the entire “Lost Parks” series in hand – I was able to meet up with a very nice gentleman in the lobby who not ONLY took the DVD for review, (with cleverly hidden business cards from Nicholas and I inside) but the KCET employee also gave me a name and number of the person who would be reviewing it.

SCORE! As any salesperson will tell you – a name and number is the best currency you can have. Expect a call early next week, Mr. DVD at KCET!

With the time rapidly approaching 3:00pm, I wanted to head back to the general area of the studios (Santa Monica) just in case traffic was horrible. Thankfully, the traffic Gods were smiling and I found the studio around 4:15pm. With the fortunate glut of time available, I did what any respectable thrill seeker would do – seek out the local amusement park. Thankfully, Snata Monica has just the ticket, on a pier over the Pacific Ocean.

And of course, being near Hollywood, there was a film crew there. Looks like they were filming for a new Ross commercial (how ironic) given my previous trip there earlier in the day.

Now, Santa Cruz this park is NOT. With less than 15 rides (most of the middie variety) it befudded me how they coudl charge $99.00 for a seaosn pass, when the Boardwak comes in around $75.00 – SoCal logic I suppose. I got my single ride ticket for the “West Coaster” and walked up the queue to the station.

Like Quicksilver Express, West Coaster is a Morgan built hypercoaster that’s not really a hypercoaster. It had some decent force in the back, and a nice floater hill, but that’s about it. Two hexices and an airtime hill. Thankfully, they let us all re-ride (all three of us aboard, that is) so the price went down to just $3.00 per ride…

That being said, IF (and I stress IF) Santa Cruz wanted to get into the hypercoaster business (like the neighbors would let them after the Double Shot fiasco) it’s quite do-able if they use Santa Monica as inspiration. Maybe over the wharf? 😉

Back to the real reason for the trip. After getting the mandatory ride credit in, I drove back to the studios to stake out a parking space in the general vicinity and change in the car into what would be my audition clothing. (For the record, it was khaki pants, brown shoes + socks, blue dress shirt and black blazer.)

I found a spot about block from the studios, and walked there. We were directed by a security guard into what looked like an alley, which led to the studios themselves. That’s where we’d wait for about an hour. In the meantime, we had several passes of camera interviews and employees telling us about the Tastemade App (it was after all, their studio).

That’s where I made my first move. The camerawoman (wearing one of the SAME pieces of equipment Nicholas uses on set) asked our group, “…so what’s your sthick?”

Don’t set a softball up like that and not expect me to swing for the fences…

If Travel Channel was looking for a good show idea, just the conversations waiting in line were worth filming. I feel like I have several new friends now. The guy in front of me brought a giant, Tiki-like mask behind me wouldn’t shut up about his quirky travels and food (he once went to Kansas JUST to see the World’s Largest Ball of Twine) but he didn’t have the personality in my opinion. In fact, many of the people tonight were all about being foodies, which didn’t really make them stand out IMHO.

After going into the first room (as a group of three) we were given our official numbers and asked to choose a background from our shoot. (I went with LA because there was no theme park option). We were directed to an ancillary room where we filled out the required paperwork (via iPad). Figures mine had a split keyboard issue so it took forever to type my info in.

We were then led down a long hallway into what they called “the holding room.” This was actually the Tastemade production office, so it was cool to see how they operate from the inside. This is where we spent the majority of our night. But, I was so happy that I did.

Originally, I had chosen a seat in the small bleachers they had. But I found the seat uncomfortable and moved to a bench with a table.

I am so glad I did.

You see, about 15 minutes into sitting down, a stunningly beautiful woman named Tensia sat down next to me. Me being the suave ladies man that I am (insert you own laugh here) I stuck up a conversation and we got a good repertoire going.

Turns out she works at USC and loves fashion. (For the record, she approved of my getup for clothing, and was very happy I had chosen khakis over jeans at the last minute). She even showed me her dress she wore to the Oscars.

Yeah, she went to the freaking Oscars. Go on…

It didn’t feel like a date, but in a cool way – it was. We enjoyed each other’s company, kept our own nerves distracted from the audition and vowed to stay in touch. If I could, I’d absolutely ask her out.

And on that bombshell, you’ll just have to wait for part II tomorrow. I’m already down to just two mini bottles of Sutter Home left and the clock strikes 1:00am – might be time to pass out. Yup. Until tomorrow, thrill seekers!

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