Local residents have a chance to win $10,000 and be in the national television spotlight due to Mount Airy’s selection as part of a new AMC series about small-town talent competitions around the country.
“It’s going to be big,” tourism official Jessica Icenhour Roberts said when announcing the city’s inclusion in the new TV project during a Mount Airy Board of Commissioners’ Thursday. It will involve an open casting call for auditions later this month.
“This is very exciting news for Mount Airy,” added Roberts, who is director of tourism for the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce.
The “docuseries” involved — titled “Road Shows” — will be distributed worldwide, according to a recent article in The Hollywood Reporter. Its aim is to bring “a little bit of Hollywood to tiny towns across the country,” the article says.
Mount Airy’s selection is accompanied by open auditions to be held on Oct. 29 at the Andy Griffith Playhouse on Rockford Street, Roberts told city officials.
“They’re basically looking for anyone who has any kind of talent.”
A theme of “every town has a story, every town has a star” is involved with the effort. People from all walks of life are invited to showcase their talents as singers, dancers, musicians, jugglers, magicians, ventriloquists and more.
The auditions will be held from 2 to 7 p.m. on Oct. 29. Interested candidates can sign up in advance by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. They are asked to send a recent photograph, telephone number and brief description of their talent.
The competition is open to anyone 18 and over, according to promotional literature regarding the auditions. Talent segments should be limited to one or two minutes, due to the large turnout expected.
“Road Shows” will chart the progress of talent competitions in selected towns across America. AMC has given the go-ahead for eight one-hour episodes of the series, which will debut in the second quarter of 2013.
Mount Airy will be featured in the second show, according to Roberts. “They will be coming here to film.” While a complete list of other cities picked was not available Friday, Kingstown, R.I., is one, along with locations in Ohio and Texas.
After acts responding to the open casting call are auditioned for the director and choreographer of “Road Shows,” four finalists will be chosen for a talent show at a local venue, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Those finalists will receive “coaching” in preparation for that, Roberts said, which is to involve mentoring by a team of Hollywood professionals.
The ultimate winner will receive the $10,000 cash prize. “It will be a citizen of Mount Airy who will win that,” Roberts said.
Other details concerning the audition process are available from the Surry Arts Council at 786-7998 or chamber at 786-6116.
About The Series
AMC (originally standing for American Movie Classics) is a cable television network that in addition to theatrical films airs series such as “The Walking Dead,” “Breaking Bad” and “Mad Men.”
The network gave producers the nod on Sept. 29 for the first eight episodes of “Road Shows,” with Mount Airy representatives learning of this city’s selection Thursday, Roberts said.
The chamber of commerce and Surry Arts Council worked toward that goal. “This will give us great exposure,” Roberts said of Mount Airy’s role in a show that will tap into America’s craving for reality programming involving talent competitions.
Frank Garrity, casting producer for the project, said Friday afternoon that the executive producer of “Road Shows” had developed a list of 25 prospects, with the various locales chosen after follow-up research.
“It came down to which cities were the most receptive, to having us, and excited,” Garrity explained. “It’s just a talent show for and by the people. … We want people who are happy to be in their small town, but want to show off their talent.”
“When I talked with him, he had heard about Mount Airy, and when he called he didn’t realize all of the cool things that we have going on here, with all the Mayberry attractions, the old-time music,” Roberts said of her initial contact with Garrity.
“He was just very taken aback by everything that we had to offer here,” she added, and seemed “excited about being able to come here.”
“With Mount Airy, how could it not be interesting, with all the lineage you’ve got there?” Garrity said of Andy Griffith and other aspects of local culture.
The Mayberry mystique certainly didn’t hurt. “He did mention several people in his office that have such a love for ‘The Andy Griffith Show.’ … so that was one of the reasons, too,” Roberts said of her conversation with Garrity concerning the selection criteria.
She added, “We are all very excited about this.”
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or email@example.com.