When we last left our story, we were headed to the MTV Studios in New York City to become a contestant on Remote Control. Four episodes were scheduled to be filmed that day, so a dozen anxious college students arrived early and were quickly ushered to the “green room” where we awaited our turn to be called into the studio to do battle.
Gena was there, and she was a nervous wreck. Level One of her anxiety had been alleviated, as all the contestants had shown up on time (a surprisingly uncommon occurrence, she explained) and she was handing out tax forms, release forms and assorted other documents from the Viacom legal department for us to sign. However, she was not going to be able to truly relax until the day’s taping was over, and we all did her proud. After all, as the casting director, if any contestant turned out to be “Baton Rouge Cindy” from the Brady Bunch, Gena was the one who would take the heat.
Two other Syracuse University students were there that day, and since they wanted to spread us out over the episodes, I was assigned to Show No. 3 – which meant I got to sit back and relax a bit, and get comfortable with the goings on, as we were allowed to watch the video feeds from the live tapings before (and after, if we so chose) we competed. One fellow Orangeman I remembered from the auditions, because he had made me laugh with his impersonation of “every episode of Fat Albert” – “Don’t make fun of Jimmy, just ‘cause he got no arms and no legs… he’s got feelings, too. Hey, Hey, Hey!” and then he proceeded to recreate the looped animation of the rest of the Cosby Kids doing their cheering and leg-kicks and whatnot. Other than that, I remember nothing about him – neither his name nor how he did on the show.
The other Syracuse student, I had never met before, and we didn’t really speak to each other either that day, but I do distinctly remember he had brought a good luck charm with him – a Rocky the Raccoon doll. If my memory is correct, he was the first to be eliminated on his show. One of these days, I’ll have to ask him, because not only are we good friends, but he’s also the man responsible for bringing me to ESPN.com – the one and only Talented Mr. Roto, Matthew Berry.
Eventually, my turn came around and I went into the studio and got seat-belted into my chair. Ken Ober and Colin Quinn came over to say hello. The female co-star, who was making her debut, did not join them in the welcome, as she was still immersed in the process of getting acquainted with the show herself. Although she was a former Miss Coppertone, named Susan Ashley, she was no “lovely Marisol” and a very, very poor man’s Kari Wuhrer.
*A quick side note here – although I have gone by “AJ” for 15 years or so, at the time I filmed this episode, I had not yet made the switch to this moniker. My given name is Allen, and so, that’s what you’ll see on my nametag, assuming you’re not blinded by my overwhelming paleness and scrawniness. (And yes, that is me – I’m not being portrayed by a young Seth Green.)
Anyway, Ken turned out to be a real pompous jerk. He briefly said hello to the other two contestants, never really looking up from his clipboard, as if he were put out by the effort. When he came to me, he was desperately trying to find my name in his notes, “And you must beeeee…”
Eventually, Ken gave up on locating my name on his clipboard and actually looked up to read it off my nametag.
“And you must be the President of RIF,” I quickly shot back.
Ken was evidently not used to this kind of lip from a contestant and Colin laughing his ass off didn’t make matters any better for me, but I got a high-five from Mr. Quinn, before he wished me luck. Quickly, he ran off and I could tell by the snickers, and the pointing in my direction, that he had run off to tell the rest of crew what I had said. Obviously, my initial impression of Ken had been an accurate one.
Anyway, the show started and I got my wish of “Singing Along With Colin” and took an early lead into the first commercial break…
To be continued…