Cattle call 


"We've had two guys show up," squints a WB public relations conduit. "So one of them will have to play a girl."

Well, apparently I'm in the right place. Here in the noontime heat of Downtown Disney, the local WB affiliate, Channel 18, is attempting to make girlie dreams come true. Sort of.

More likely, though, they're just trying to give pretty girls something to do, something other than choking on sushi at Wolfgang Puck's and pouting while their boyfriends seal themselves up in DisneyQuest.

That something, in this case, is largely nothing. What's being called "WB's Clean & Clear Casting Call 2002" (or more painfully, "WB-discovered"), is essentially a sweepstakes, wherein hapless cheerleaders audition in pairs to possibly score walk-on status on one of the WB's, um, programs -- after you beat out like-minded contestants from 40 other WB affiliates nationwide, of course.

Did I mention that in addition to a walk-on, the grand prize also includes a $10,000 shopping spree! Omigod! I love "Gilmore Girls!"

"Basically, they just read their number and their name, they do their scripts and they have three minutes," regulates Ashley, my public-relations lady.

"What are the age limits?"

"12 to 24," she stabs.

I can do 24. And I can do a girl. Give me the scripts, I'm ready for my close-up.

The budding talent will read from one of two scripts. The first is a collection of random droll dialogue from "Gilmore Girls," a program akin to a small-town "Thirtysomething," only there's no guy with a beard in the cast and no advertising agency either. It goes like this:

Paris: It must be nice having two guys fawning over you.

Rory: I do not have two guys fawning over me.

Paris: Fine. Two guys liking you.

Rory: I do not have two guys liking me. I have one guy liking me. The other guy is just a friend. Not even a friend, he's just here.

Billy (to myself): I hate you both. I'm gay.

The second script comes courtesy of the terminally buck-toothed Reba McEntire, star of "Reba." (And here I feel compelled to mention that I happen to do a fantastic Reba impression. Anybody can, really. Simply make some offhand remarks about co-dependence in a Southern drawl and add the phrase "burger burger" really fast and somewhat slyly at the end. Trust me.

Unfortunately, Reba herself is not in this scene, but I am:

Van: Is there any more milk?

Cheyenne: No.

Van: Great.

Billy (again, to myself): Mom's got some booze under the sink. Care for a swig? Burger burger.

I show up just in time to catch a couple of girl-band tweens, Jennifer and Shannon, hiccuping through their chance at incidental fame.

"How'd you do, ladies?"

"Well, like, considering that we were just walking by, and we had no idea what this was," Jennifer hurls.

Oh, sure. Three pounds of stage makeup and six layers of the latest Bebe squeeze wear, and these two were just strolling by. Mind you, this place is 10 years down I-4, far from workaday civilization, and to this duo it was all a surprise. Tell me more.

"We were going to eat," lies Jennifer, all 45 pounds of her.

Eat what? A Tic Tac? The lemon off the edge of your water? Those are empty calories a teen star cannot afford, ladies!

The girls are already looking past me to my publication date, and literally sucking the celebrity potential from my tape recorder.

"Which script did you like better?" I pretend to care.

"I liked hers actually better," squeaks Shannon, obliviously. "And I think she liked mine."

Bitches.

"I mean, do you like "Reba" better, or "Gilmore Girls" better?" I grin, obviously.

"Oh, oh," they deflate in unison. "Gilmore Girls."

And just what will they do with the $10,000 in the unlikely event they beat me in this pageant?

"Umm," umms Jennifer. "I'd probably invest it in my modeling career, because that's what I want to do with my life."

"Dancing," twirls Shannon, as if speaking to nothing.

It's enough to make me rip the gorgeous pearls from around my neck and throw them down the House of Blues stairs in a fit of Showgirls sabotage. I long to scream at them: "There's always someone older and prettier coming down the stairs behind you!" But I snap out of it. Phew.

Hosting the event is Channel 18's new teen personality, Justin, whose name alone surely got him the job.

"I got the gig through my old acting coach," he corrects. "He called me and said, 'Hey! I think you'd be great for this job. Send in a tape.' So I sent in a tape."

He's boring me.

"I'm kind of like a DJ on the radio, except I'm on TV," he VJ's "I'm kind of the new face of Orlando, er, Central Florida television."

Justin's hair is frosted, I should note here. Not fully bleached. Just frosted. So naturally the talk continues to revolve around himself and his "personality."

"There's one promo where I'm walking by this girl and she's like, 'Hey, aren't you the WB guy?' And then we start making out."

Um, hey, aren't you the WB guy?

"Well, not really making out," he child-proofs. "More like CPR making out."

I don't care. Um, hey, aren't you the WB guy?

I got the part.


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