- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 27, 2001

Everyone supposedly re-ceives 15 minutes of fame. Local residents seeking their due time auditioned for a new, half-hour, syndicated version of the game show "Weakest Link" on Thursday at the Sphinx Club in the McPherson Square area of the District.

Coordinators from NBC Enterprises Domestic Syndication in Los Angeles held an open call throughout the day to find contestants. Tomorrow, they go to Pittsburgh. The staff is traveling nationwide in search of participants for the 315 shows, which begin to air Jan. 7. Comedian George Gray will play host to the episodes.

Natalie Fields, a conference coordinator for George Washington University who attended the 10 a.m. audition, says her grandmother inspired her to try out for the program.

"She watched them all the time when I was a little kid," Ms. Fields says. "Since I can't be an actress, I thought I'd try out for a game show. My friends tell me I know odd trivia."

Sarajane Smollin, executive in charge of contestants for "Weakest Link," says the producers are looking for bright, articulate and enthusiastic participants. Unlike other game shows, "Weakest Link" is cast.

"We want people to be themselves," she says. "We like to see as many people as possible. We hope they take it as a lark, a fun thing to do. If you end up in the show, great."

The interview process, which takes about two hours, involves an application, an introduction to the staff and a 20-question written quiz. Six persons are chosen from the larger crowd to proceed to the next step, where they take part in a mock game show, which is videotaped for producers in Los Angeles to review. The questions asked during the audition are confidential.

Corey Shapiro, a law student at George Washington, says he has a knack for retaining useless information.

"I might as well use it for something good," says Mr. Shapiro, who attended the 10 a.m. audition. "Now that I'm in law school, I don't have much time to watch game shows, but I still watch 'Jeopardy' sometimes."

Jessica DiPietro, an academic adviser at George Washington, says she heard about the audition from her friend Oscar Jones, the social director at Howard University.

"He called me at work and asked me if I wanted to go," she says. "At first, I was hesitant, but then I decided to come."

Mr. Jones already had decided how he would spend any prize money he wins.

"If I win," Mr. Jones says, "I will pay back my student loans, put a down payment on a house and go on a shopping spree. It may not be in that order."

Chris Earnshaw, an independent photographer and musician, says that if he wins money from the game, he will use it to buy equipment for his band. "Or maybe I'd buy a vintage car," he says.

Kevin Lankford, lead singer of the local band Nightlife, says he always thought he could be a game show host. "I've been trying to get into acting my entire life," Mr. Lankford says. "This could be my 15 minutes of fame."

Kathy Goodenough, contestant coordinator for the series, says decisions about who will appear on the show are made within six weeks to 10 months of the auditions. If someone is chosen as a contestant, the game show flies that person to California, where the contestant meets the producers and tapes the episode. Barring unforeseen technical problems, it's a commitment of two nights and one day.

"We're very excited about the show," Miss Goodenough says. "We will start filming in November at NBC Studios in Burbank, Calif."

Hard-nosed Briton Anne Robinson will continue as host of the hourlong version of the show, which appears on NBC and the BBC. The program began last summer on BBC2. Because of its success, NBC says, the network wanted to create a syndicated version of the show. It will be identical in format but feature six contestants instead of eight.

For information about auditioning for "Weakest Link," call 800/390-1001.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide