Fearless hopefuls line up at 5 a.m. for TV spot
By Heather L. Nicholson
Daily Cougar Staff
City Streets closed its doors Saturday morning at 2 a.m., and the last
employee left the club at 5 a.m. At about the same time, the first people
started gathering outside the club's doors in hopes of getting their hands
Lorrie Novosad/The Daily Cougar
UH alumni Mile Cagney and Nancy Corson line up to compete
against other Houstonians for a spot on NBC's Fear Factor.
Hundreds of Houstonians accompanied by lawn chairs and ice chests filled
the parking lot of the usually quiet City Streets nightclub Saturday
morning. NBC's Monday night reality television show, Fear Factor, held
an open casting call at 10 a.m. for potential contestants who would be
willing to perform unusual stunts on television.
In a sea of exhausted and excited faces that reached all the way to
Richmond Avenue, Donald Chambers and Julie Peters of Bellaire were the
first people in line. Both are big fans of the show and had arrived
at 5 a.m. with lawn chairs in hand.
"I'm here first for the fun, second for the money," Chambers said. He
also said he is willing to do anything for the grand prize of $50,000,
face his biggest fear: being enclosed in small spaces.
Peters is also afraid of small spaces but said she would endure it,
too. However, after viewing last week's show, during which contestants
paraded on stage nude in front of strangers, she said, "I wouldn't
walk around naked. Only because it is more of a moral issue than fear."
Cammie Danko, 33, of Spring, arrived at 7 a.m. with three friends. Danko
says her biggest fear is that, "When I'm old, I'll cough and my false
teeth will fall out. Otherwise, I'm fearless."
Danko said she is willing to do anything the show can offer up because
it "sounds extreme." She wouldn't share if she was planning a strategy
to be noticed at the casting call: "It's my little secret. I'll just
be myself; it has worked for me so far."
Kevin Jackson from Tomball is a father of three kids. His 8 a.m. arrival
put him halfway through the line.
"I watch the show as much as I can," Jackson said. "Most of the things
I see on the show, I think, 'I could do that.'"
While Jackson said he believes that some Polaroids of himself holding
an American flag will set him apart from the other applicants, he hopes
that they don't ask him about spiders.
"What scared me the most, is this one show where they dumped live tarantulas
on everybody," he said. "I wouldn't be able to handle that."
Inside the club, where impatient applicants longed to be, casting assistants
and club employees scrambled to create an interview process that
will accommodate 100 people at a time. Once applications were filled
out, two groups of 30 went through oral interviews.
"This is where a lot of people get eliminated," said Fear Factor casting
director Roz Taylor-Jordan.
Once the interviews are finished, the applicants' names are either on
a callback list or in the trash can. For a lucky few, there is a room off
side with all its windows and doors covered up like a World War II
These individuals impressed the casting assistants so much during the
interviews that they were invited to the room to talk directly to the casting
director on videotape. These people are the most promising contestants.
"I'm looking for fun, energetic, competitive, adventurous people who
challenge themselves," said Taylor-Jordan. She has also casted three
Survivor seasons and Love Connection before coming to Fear Factor.
Taylor-Jordan says she is definitely looking for Texas standouts to
be on the show.
"We want people with Texas drawls and cute cowboys," she says, "Above
all, I need someone extroverted — introverted people will never make
The number of people who were chosen for Saturday's casting call is
unlimited. The show wants as many willing and qualified participants that
Houston has to offer. The chosen ones will appear during seasons three,
four and maybe five, depending on how many people are found.
Fear Factor is in its second season and hosted by Joe Rogan. Rogan may
be more commonly known to some television viewers as Joe
Garelli, the witty resident electrician in the sitcom News Radio.
Fear Factor, however, is very different from any sitcom.
Each episode recruits six different contestants from across the country
to compete against each other and themselves for the grand prize. Three
horrific and unusual stunts are planned for the contestants to perform,
which usually correlates with their biggest fear.
Past episodes entertained viewers by making contestants eat live Madagascar
cockroaches, leap from one moving 18-wheeler truck to another,
lie in an encased bed of snakes and be submerged in a tank of water
upside-down by their ankles.
To those who couldn't make the open casting call but have a lust for
$50,000 and 15 minutes of fame and are willing to eat animal parts that
their body will violently reject: Have no fear.
Taylor-Jordan tells us that "if this all goes well, we'll be back."