Posted by: lucylightning | November 8, 2012

The Next Reality Star: Pittsburgh

by Lucy Leitner

Pittsburgh is a city of unique quirks. Its roads seems to end at random. It has an interesting dialect that was integral in making Pittsburgh Dad a YouTube sensation. It is on the cutting edge of both robots and zombies. Its largest university has five buildings in its quad. It is home to the only tunnels in the nation that inspire such fear that it is necessary to stop before entering them. Yes, a place like this can only breed the most interesting characters. Those that should have their own TV shows.

And now a joint venture between the One Louder Productions and the Pittsburgh Innovative Media Incubator intends to do just that with its The Next Reality Star: Pittsburgh competition.

An open casting call will be held at the WQED Studios on Saturday, November 17 from 10 AM to 4 PM for the role of you.

“We felt that Pittsburghers are good hearted people, true fans,” competition casting director Ellen Berkman Davis said. “The qualities that define Pittsburghers are what people want to watch.”

pittsburgh reality tv competition
Aside from the prestige and validation of the fact that you are, in fact, worthy of your own television show, the winner/winners will have their lives pitched to major networks in New York and Los Angeles for a potential series.

Pittsburgh’s involvement in reality TV dates further back than Lifetime’s Dance Moms. Latrobe native Bob Kusbit has created shows for MTV and CMT and has won an Emmy for serving as executive producer of the MTV series Made. He teamed up with Pittsburgh-raised Davis, former casting department manager for Survivor and The Amazing Race, to create Pittsburgh’s Next Reality Star as another means for Pittsburgh to shine.

“We want colorful characters who are a show within themselves,” Davis said.

Indeed, Davis and Kusbit are not searching for pitches, but people — an individual or group around which they can build a show. The winner/winners of the contest will dictate the format based solely on who they are. The competition judges are not looking for anyone particular, just someone fascinating enough to be the subject of a sizzle reel for which network execs will salivate like they’re waiting in line at DeLuca’s on a chilly morning.

And Pittsburgh certainly has those.

Entrants may submit a five-minute video to the web site or go to the in-person auditions at the WQED Studios in Oakland on November 17.

“Just be who you are,” Davis said. “Let it all hang out.”

From the in-person and online entrants, five finalists will be chosen whose homes or businesses will be filmed to gather more evidence of uniqueness from which to select a winner.

The idea for the competition came to ubiquitous Pittsburgh creative personality Carl Kurlander when he was walking his dog with Davis about a year and a half ago. Kurlander, like Davis, is a Pittsburgh native who returned after years in Los Angeles to raise a daughter among the characters of the Steel City. Kurlander has been back in da ‘Burgh for quite some time, tirelessly working to give it all the good parts of Hollywood without the hubris, superficiality, and Kardashians. When she returned from Tinseltown more recently, Davis immediately took notice of the city’s renaissance, its metamorphosis into an entertainment destination.

Among its many recent successes, Pittsburgh has boasted wins in several reality competitions. Pittsburgh natives Jenna Morasca and Amber Brkich Mariano won Survivor, while Jackie Evancho finished second in America’s Got Talent, Sharon Needles won RuPaul’s Drag Race, and honorary Pittsburgher Hines Ward took home the mirror ball trophy on Dancing with the Stars. Yes, the City of Champions is eclectic.

But the stars that Kusbit and Davis are seeking will not compete, nor will they be forced to live in a house with strangers or survive in the wild of Mellon Green. They will not compete in challenges every week. They will not run up the South Side steps while dragging a case of Iron City, nor will they be placing bets on when the Mon Wharf will be closed due to flooding. Though we at Hollyburgh firmly believe that Parking Chair Wars would be a ratings grabber, there will be nothing of the sort. There will be no makeovers, no Henry Higgins teaching them to properly enunciate “downtown.” And no one will be fighting for the affections of one Donnie Iris. Though we would watch that one as well.

This contest is merely to find that Pittsburgher who is fascinating without any gimmicks, a character that can drive an entire show — the format of which will be determined based on said character. It could be a workplace, a group of friends, or a lone Pittsburgher who is doing something entirely unique.

And, no, not only those supposedly quintessential Pittsburghers need apply. The contest is open to any US citizen 18 and older who is entertaining.

As Davis said, “No one should feel they’re not right for it.”

For more information about the auditions and The Next Reality Star: Pittsburgh in general, visit



  1. That is great! Although possibly a better way to find that character would be to follow the News Vans out into the streets when something, anything is happening, and get one of those ‘ Eyewitness willing to talk on camera’ types.

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