In 2001, a new idea was born on our TV sets called reality TV. It all started with “Survivor” which I’m sure everyone is well aware of. I watched this show the first season and like a lot of people, I decided that I could do a much better job at “surviving” and subsequently applied to be on the next seasons show in Austrailia. I submitted my lengthy application and a 3 minute video of myself demonstrating my survival talents and techniques. Needless to say, I didn’t get accepted to be on the show, but I did get something almost as good.

One day soon thereafter a fellow worker came into my office and suggested that I put in for a spot on the Sally Jesse Rafael Show as they were doing an episode on this new reality TV craze. The episode was to be called “Reality TV Wannabes.” I thought what the heck, went on line to Sally”s website and typed in a short plea for help in getting on the next “Survivor” season. Well, that was that and I didn’t think anything else about it until a week later when my daughter called me at work to tell me that the “Sally” show called and they wanted me to be on the show. After she finally convinced me that she was serious, I called the contact number to find that indeed they were considering me for the show. They asked if I would send in my “Survivor” audition tape. I did and subsequently was picked to be on the show.

My apologies for the poor quality.

They flew me in to New York a few weeks later for the taping of the show and put me up in a fancy hotel in Manhattan. Well, all of this was quite new to me and I was enjoying all the attention. I never thought I would ever be in a hotel in Manhattan, much less getting to be on a major network TV show. The next day I was whisked to the studio for taping. Here I was escorted to the “green room” where I met the other contestants on the show. You see, there were to be 4 contestants all vying for a spot on one reality TV show or another. In addition, there was to be a panel of 6 guest judges from different reality shows who, through a series of reality related questions, would pick the contestant most likely to be a “reality TV star.”

We were placed in our designated positions of entry onto the stage and as we were introduced we made our debut on national TV. I think I had the best point of entry. Due to my rappelling skills on the “Survivor” tape they had me situated up in the ceiling next to all the hot lights. I was to hang there for the duration of a commercial break and then upon introduction, rappel down to the stage. I must say it was a grand entrance.

Once I landed on the stage and introduced myself as the next survivor, the game was on. Reality TV was explained to the viewers and the panel of judges began asking their questions to the 4 contestants. When all was said and done the panel of judges voted on who would be the next reality TV star. Guess who won.?.?.? You got that right. I was picked as the winner of the contest and awarded an all-expense paid trip to LA, California to audition for USA Network’s first reality TV show called “Cannonball Run 2001.” Wow……..this is unreal!!

Sometime later I was flown out to LA and put up in another fancy hotel. Again I was whisked off to USA Network’s headquarters where I was greeted and asked to wait until called. I assumed I was in line behind others auditioning for the show. I remember trying to be cool and wondering what they would have me do for my audition, afterall, what does one do to get on a reality TV show? Well I soon found out as they escorted me into a room full of suits and sat me down on a stool in front of a camera. The barage of questions came next; questions about everyting and anything. I tried to anticipate what they wanted to hear and responded accordingly. I learned from the survivor questionaire that they don’t want a fearless wilderness mountain man who can survive anything. No indeed, what they want is someone that will be confrontational in a way or someone that will produce “good TV.” The only question that I can really remember them asking is the one that, I believe, got me on the show. When they asked me what kind of music I liked, I responded with “anything but rap!” More on this later. So they did the “hollywood thing,” they thanked me and said that they would be in touch.

I flew home in wonderment. I went back to work and my routine and waited. I don’t remember the duration in between the trip to LA and the “call” but I do remember that it came at the most inopportune time. Imagine that. Six months prior to that audition I had planned a hiking trip to New Mexico with my 2 brothers Richard and Chuck (Charlie). We were at base camp the night before our hike into the mountains. We were enjoying the night with a good meal, a beverage or two and some good conversation as we had not seen each other for some time. This was to be a week-long trip of bonding and adventure. We all were stoked about the trip and ready to go when my cell phone rang. It became clear instantly that I was on a conference call with who knows how many suits and executives from USA Network. They told me that I had been selected to be on their first reality TV show, “Cannonball Run 2001, Race Across America.”

I was selected??!! Wow. OK, what next? They said that they needed me in New York on Thursday to begin taping the show. Well, it was Tuesday and I was in New Mexico with my brothers, who I had not seen in years, getting ready for a week-long hike in the mountains. This has just become a major dilema! If I said yes to being on the show, which is deffinately what I wanted to do, it would totaly screw up this hiking trip. My brothers would have to drive me 8+ hours back to Texas to get on a plane for NY City. If I said no to their offer, which was not gonna happen, I would miss an incredible opportunity at fame and fortune. My brothers , hearing this conversation, pleaded with me not to give in to their untimely request. Long story short, after some tedious negotiation, I agreed to cut our trip short and arrive in NY on Saturday.

My brothers and I hiked for a few days and then reluctantly drove me back to Texas. Now you would think that I would just hop on a plane and that would be it bit no……USA Network faxed me a contract to be signed and returned overnight, I had to have a drug test with the results faxed to NY overnight and I had to shop for clothes and assundries for my 2 week taping of the show. Being from North Carolina, all I had with me was my hiking gear. Well after notifying my family that I was not coming home for a while, I hopped on a plane to NY City.


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