Friday, March 04, 2016

Going Down The Mole Hole

Last week, I was tooling around online, and something from Reality Blurred caught my eye. According to Andy Dehnart, The Amazing Race is looking for single people to be cast along with teams for the 29th season. Unlike the disastrous 26th season from last year, Andy clarified that the show wasn't strictly looking for people to go on a blind date from hell. My emotions were mixed. First reaction: "Hey, there's gonna be a new season!" Second reaction: "Shit, is CBS forcing the producers to mix things up again?" The third thought didn't occur to me for a few hours . . . "Hey, maybe I can do this."

As it stands right now, I do not have a partner to apply for TAR under normal circumstances. Also, I hate myself. I hate myself a lot. I feel that I have a face made for radio, and a voice made for print media. I am out of shape . . . I can count the number of doughy guys who raced with one hand (Marshall & Lance and Chip in TAR5, Dave from TAR9). My exercise is usually limited to a recumbent bicycle; I do not use the treadmill. I only speak English; I took Italian for years, and very little of it has sunk in. Shit, I haven't been outside of the United States and Canada. I am not good under pressure, and that's a constant in TAR. I haven't swam in decades. I hate the idea of falling or diving. I don't drive stick shift, and that's something that comes up a lot on the show. And I would have people judging me on a weekly basis. Even if you factor in folks who know me online and would support me even if I'm an asshole (see: Justin, TAR27), I don't know if I can handle the "playa hatred." That would probably drag me back to junior high, the worst three years of my life.

Why would I want to run the Race in the first place? Because I don't have adventures. I want to get off North America. I have seen every episode from every season, and I've absorbed enough to know how to handle certain game situations. I could use half of the million dollar grand prize, even after taxes. And unlike Justin, I would be aware that I might come across as an ugly American, and I would nip that in the bud. I'm not saying I'm the ideal partner, but I feel that I can bring a lot to the table. Also, I don't think I'm qualified for any other reality show. To wit:

Survivor: I don't go camping and I don't gel with certain people. Sure, I could probably lose weight faster than normal, but forming alliances would be a pain. Even when you factor in Mark Burnett and Jeff Probst's casting of trainwrecks and Section 8 cases, I would probably last two weeks. I'd make it to the traditional tribal shake-up, but I wouldn't last past the merge. And Probst would ignore me at the Reunion because I am not an alpha male., even if I insist on going by my last name.

Big Brother: I don't watch this show. I can see myself sacrificing a month and change for CBS's other shows, but three months with no contact with the outside world? No dice. Also, this show tends to scrap the bottom of the barrel in terms of casting. I wouldn't be the worst person on the show, but I may end up strangling somebody who got on my nerves. The biggest upside: The odds of me getting cast on TAR and Survivor would be increased dramatically.

The Challenge: First of all, I don't have any connections to Bunim-Murray alumni. Secondly, I don't drink, so I'd probably be sitting at the club, sipping a diet soda and working on my bitch face. Finally, the urge to assault some of the "stars" would be too great for me. Who doesn't want to haul off and punch Johnny in the face? It would be worth getting a lecture from TJ Lavin, even though he's a poor man's Jeff Probst. Why BMP hasn't tried to develop a "plan B" in terms of hosts, I do not know.

In reality, I am not cut out for "reality." I have only attempted to go on three shows. In 2000, I tried to get article fodder by applying to The Real World. Had I succeeded, I probably would have been cast on Back To New York, and I would have been eaten alive by Coral. The following year, I waited on line for hours in New York City to audition for the second season of The Mole. That didn't pan out to anything, but I did end up meeting Dorothy Hui, the woman who would eventually win The Next Betrayal, and I wound up interviewing her for Reality News Online.

Cut to 2008. I was working a temp job at the Department of Sanitation. Thanks to the television writers' strike, networks were desperate for new material. ABC had launched The Mole in early 2001, and the ratings were good enough to warrant a second season. The Next Betrayal was scheduled for Friday nights, and the network wound up shelving the show after three weeks. The whole season was run in summer 2002, but between the low ratings and host Anderson Cooper leaving ABC for a more serious gig at CNN, The Mole was effectively dead. The following two years had "celebrity" editions and noted Michael Jordan-suckup Ahmad Rashad hosting. The only thing that saved Celebrity Mole: Hawaii was reality TV fan Kathy Griffith, who wound up winning the $233,000 pot. Celebrity Mole: Yucatan wound up bringing back headcases Stephen Baldwin and Corbin Bernsen, and featured lots of mugging from Mark Curry. Dennis Rodman wound up winning that season. The less grey matter we spend focusing on that season, the better.

To me, The Mole was the perfect show for me to apply for. Sure, there would be paranoia about the identity of the titular Mole, and the games might prove to be a drag, but it was a leisurely adventure to scenic locales, with first-class accommodations. Having seen all of the episodes, as well as meeting folks from The Next Betrayal at various TARCons and venues where Dorothy played, I felt that I was qualified to apply for the revival. In January 2008, I formally applied to the show. I gave my name and other vital details, as well as a few sentences about my "story." While I feel my life sucks ass most of the time, I tried to put a good spin on it. Soon, I got an e-mail asking for more information. I upped the details to two paragraphs about myself:

I was born in Brooklyn, NY, on Christmas Day, 1975. Emotional problems on my part put me in special education until ninth grade, when I was decertified upon entering high school. I graduated from Wagner College in 1997 with a B.S. in mathematics, but my heart wasn't that into numbers. So I ended up enrolling in New York University, and I came out with a Master's in Journalism in 2001. Currently, I write for Beyond Race Magazine, a publication geared towards progressive thinkers. I've been with the magazine since its beginning in 2006, writing feature stories, doing some light editing work, and distributing copies throughout my home borough of Staten Island. I'm also working as a temp with the office of the Department of Sanitation's medical office.

I feel that I'm sharp enough to be a contestant on The Mole. While I haven't been off the continent yet, I don't think exotic locales would distract me from finding a saboteur in the crowd . . . though I would definately apprecitate my surroundings. You should know that The Mole is not only the only reality show I would apply to be cast, but I did that back in 2001 for the second season. In fact, I wound up meeting Dorothy Hui, who ended up winning the $636,000 pot for that edition. I don't think winning will be easy -- and that's not taking into account the number of mutations that are commonplace with long-run reality shows -- but I'm ready to see how far I can go.

The next day, I got an e-mail from a guy handling the auditions. He wanted to see me. I was getting closer to the dream. I would eventually find myself going to the Lower East Side for an audition. I wound up going there after work, with paperwork in hand. I'm a little hazy on the exact details. I remember seeing a few other people vying for a spot on the show. I wound up getting in front of the camera, talking to somebody about my life. I wish I could say I blew the process out of the water. I wish I could say that I was thisclose to making the show. But I bombed. My mouth dried up throughout the process. I struggled to incorporate the wording of the questions into my answers, which reminded me of writing in grade school. And I balked at the thought of being the Mole . . . partially because I didn't think I could do a good job in that role, partially because I couldn't handle the pressure.

I didn't hear back from the casting people. That was disappointing. Understandable, but disappointing. Eventually, I heard the new season had started filming, and that was the end of that. I would have tried again, but ABC wound up burying the show on Monday nights at 10 p.m. After a few weeks, they didn't bother to promote it. I'm still bitter that the network sticks to the formulas of The Bachelor and Dancing With The Stars, and they don't ever think of bringing The Mole back from the dead, like NBC keeps doing with Last Comic Standing. The fifth and final season itself wasn't that memorable, as the casting skewed towards drama cases, but they came off better than most reality ensembles. The guy who turned out to be the Mole that season was overweight and had glasses like me. Craig Silke was a graphic designer from San Diego, and he was willing to sabotage games a lot more than me. Sometimes, I wonder if I could have been effective playing that part. I don't think about it all the time, but it comes up in my head on occasion.

After visiting the official site for TAR casting, I hit a roadblock. Turns out they want video from applicants, and I don't own a webcam. I e-mailed them asking if there would be any open calls in the near future, but I'm not expecting an answer anytime soon. Reality television may not be as alluring to me, and I'm less likely to go all-out to make a cast, but it is nice to dream about.

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