Deal or no Deal

There are four television shows coming to Connecticut this year: Jerry Springer, Maury Povich, Steve Wilkos, and “Deal or No Deal”. Unfortunately, none of them are interested in hiring me. So when I saw an ad on craigslist inviting people to come to an open audition for “Deal or No Deal”, I thought, “Yeah, maybe that’s even better than working on the show”. At least I could learn more about the behind-the-scenes process including how Audience Coordinators work, and how they cast for game shows like this.

The audition was at the Hartford Marriott, and it was a true cattle call. Hundreds of people, filling out applications with questions like, “What’s the luckiest thing that’s ever happened to you? “Do you carry a good luck charm? and “Is your first or last name Howie?” (True!).

Next, we were called into one of the larger conference rooms, and seated in 50 rows of 15 chairs each, and a young production assistant comes out and asked us if we were ready to be on “Deal or No Deal”, and of course no matter how much noise we made, no matter how much screaming and carrying on, it’s never enough. “I can’t heeear youuuu! he says, and we do it all over again, (not me), until even he finally got bored and explained the rules to us. Then, in smaller groups of ten at a time, we approach a desk at which two members of the production company are seated, and we each have 30 seconds to make a really good impression and tell them how interesting we are. Everyone tries to be entertaining, but really, what do they want us to say? They made one old lady tap dance, or maybe she volunteered, I don’t know which, though I sensed she might have been acting out of desperation. I played along, and I felt more than my own share of regret. I felt as if I were being used in a most unseemly way. I am the type of person that likes to get to know somebody before I start grinning like an idiot and whooping and hollering.

Anyway, at the interview table, where we get our 30 seconds to impress these quasi-judges, I realized I was the only male in my group of ten. The rest were women of all kinds, housewives, ambulance dispatchers, students, etc. When it was time for them to perform, the girl at the desk would say things like, “What would you do with the money, if you won $1,000,000?” or Tell us, how would the money change your life? Most contestant hopefuls responded with, “Oh, I’d travel”, or “I’d buy a new house”. I was right in the middle of the group, so I had a few moments to try to think of something that would make me stand out. At this point I felt that my gender was only going to exaggerate how wrong I was for this show. I could either walk away and save my self-respect, or stick with it and see where it went. All this is going through my head as I was hearing the woman next to me wrap it up by saying that she’d been married for 30 years, and today was the 20th anniversary of her job at some pharmaceutical company. Then it was my turn.

“Okay, um, John? Tell me about yourself”. I decided that I’d Wow her with tales of my past life as a stagehand.

“Oh well, I’ve worked on Broadway, and toured all over the U.S. with all sorts of shows, blah, blah, blah.”

“Oh what shows have you worked on?”

What shows? I was blanking! Grasping for a straw, I told her about “Titanic”, which hasn’t been on Broadway in about ten years! I could tell I was losing her.

“What would you do with $1,000,000,000?” she asked.

“Oh, well, I’m trying to get started in movies, and if I won, I’d use the money to finance an independent film”, I said.

“What would the movie be about?”

At first I was clueless! I didn’t have any ideas for movie scripts! Then suddenly, it all came rushing out as if I’d been rehearsing for this moment all my life! “I want to make a movie about a poor beggar boy, growing up in India. He falls in love with a girl, but he’s impossibly poor. The only way he can make enough money to win the girl is to go on a game show! He goes on the Indian version of “Deal or No Deal”! Each time he’s offered a deal, and has to choose, it triggers a flashback to a time in his life with a strong parallel to the deal, which is being offered on the game show. The lesson that he learned in his past, inspires him to make the right decision on the game show! I’ll call it “Filthy Rich Ghetto Cat”!

They all stared at me as if I was stark raving mad! The people behind the table froze and their mouths hung open and I realized everything was moving in slow motion and I suddenly couldn’t hear anything. Had I told the crazy story of the century and won them over?

No Deal!

I thought it was a winner, but in the end, they picked the Grandmother who vacations in St. Martin’s every year!

I guess that’s why they call television, the small screen.