This morning my twin brother Damien and I attended an open casting call for the hit game show Deal or No Deal, which airs on NBC three nights a week. Following in the tradition of our audition last summer for The Amazing Race 9, we figured it was worth another shot at willing a million dollars.
Being identical twins with a similar physical look as that of the show’s host Howie Mandel we agreed the best way to catch the casting director’s eye (and make a memorable impression) was to dress like Howie in a dark suit with a brightly-colored shirt, no tie and at least one hoop earring each. Oh yeah, we also went to the costume shop and bought some obviously-fake stick-on goatees. What follows is a review of the casting process, some photos we took and some reflections on what the crowd had to say.
5:00 AM: The alarm goes off. I jump in the shower and run the razor over my head to make sure it’s as cleanly-shaved as possible. I put in my contacts, affix my fake goatee and get dressed. Howie has one of those goatees that is basically a tuft of hair on the lower lip, but nothing on the chin. I’ve never grown a goatee like this so having a fake one makes me realize it would take me quite a while to get used to it.
5:30 AM: I pick up my brother and we scoot across the Manhattan Bridge to Bowery Street. Right away we see that there is already a line of what we estimated at the time to be over 100 people, most of who camped out overnight. The casting call was being held at Blvd., a night-club on Bowery near Spring Street. I drop Damien off to hold our place in the line and I go to park the car. Luckily, it being so early in the morning I found parking pretty easily.
6:00 AM: I join Damien in line, which has already wrapped around the block on three sides. I realize my first estimate of 100 people in line was way too low. The figure is closer to 300-400.
6:30 AM: I wander off to find something to drink and curse the fact that all the bodegas are not open yet and eventually find a place with coffee and juices. I later realize this is a mistake as there are no public bathrooms anywhere nearby. The closest, we quickly learn, is the Starbucks 3 block away on Delancey St. Later I spend more than 30 minutes in line just waiting for the bathroom.
7:00 AM: Lots of waiting. The line grows longer and longer. The police, who have finally shown up to do crowd control, wrap the line around the block and then straight up Chrystie Street. It’s fortunate that this area is mostly restaurant supply stores, a majority of which are not open on Saturdays – since the line is almost impenetrable. Any business that relies on walk-in foot traffic would have suffered, unless they were able to cater directly to the people in line.
8:00 AM: Damien and I take turns wandering the line, talking to people. Incredibly, a few people thought he or I was actually Howie Mandel. A large number thought we were with the show, which I suppose is an easy assumption to make. Some people thought we were there just to keep the crowd entertained. We fell into this role easily and took a lot of pictures with potential contestants who “wanted their picture with Howie.” It was fun.
9:00 AM: The line finally starts to move as the casting people have arrived and started ushering people into the corrals in front of Blvd., where they then wait to be sent inside.
10:00 AM: We finally get to the front of Blvd. and the first people directly affiliated with the show spot us. One of them gives us a smile (we later find out she is a supervising producer for the show).
10:15 AM: We enter Blvd. and are handed a two-page application. The first page is 6-7 questions like “What is your most embarrassing moment?” and “What is your proudest moment?” The second page is a simple legal document stating that you agree to be considered as a contestant, etc.
10:30 AM: We are led downstairs in groups of 10 people. Each group of ten stands around a table with one casting person. The casting person tells us we have 8 minutes and each person will get 30 seconds to a minute to reply to her questions and tell her about ourselves. She asks similar questions as what is on the application, like “Why would you be a good contestant on Deal or No Deal?” and “What would you do with a million dollars?”
I get the embarrassing moment question and I reply “I once lost my car for 6 hours in a parking garage. She asks, “So, where was it? How did you find it?” and I reply “It was at a different casino.” The rest of the group laughs, because they know how similar all the parking garages are in Atlantic City. One of those true-to-life moments we’ve all dealt with on some frustrating level.
11:00 AM: After the group interview, we head upstairs and stand around the entrance for a bit. A TV crew spots us and shoots a few seconds of video from a distance. We also are cornered by a reporter from the New York Daily News, who had a photographer with her earlier who had already taken our picture. I would not be surprised to see it in the paper tomorrow or Monday.
11:30 AM: Damien and I decide to walk the line once more as we know there are another 2000+ people who have showed up who did not see us earlier. This time we get to walk the line together and people respond very favorably. Again, many people think we’re with the show but others plug us with questions about the casting process, realizing we’d just gone through it. We spend close to an hour doing the same spiel over and over again, explaining to the little crowds gathered around us what they are about to go through. Many people are very grateful for this information and tell us so. Many others tell us they are rooting for us to get on the show.
End Note: This was a fun and interesting experience. We’re fortunate the weather cooperated. It could easily have been pouring rain or 90 degrees out. Would I do it again? Perhaps, I guess it depends on the show and whether I have the time. I recommend everyone go to a casting call at least once in their life. Not all are fun experiences but the fun crowds and the professional casting directors can make it a pleasant experience all around.
Posted by Cameron Barrett at May 13, 2006 02:13 PM