Got it MADE

March 23-29, 2006
Got it MADE
By Sara Vollmer/ SUN contributing writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
Teen MTV Program Interviews Potential Candidates for Fulfillment

“I want to be the first. I want to be the best. I want to be made.” — MTV “MADE”

“We’re looking for good stories and good character,” said David Grant, an MTV casting producer for the hit show MADE, last Thursday at Bishop Grimes High School.

About 30 students applied to be on the show, which helps selected students transform their lives by helping train and prepare them to do something they’ve always wanted to do, whether that is to be a hip-hop dancer, a model or even a race car driver.

Casting producers traveled across Upstate New York to schools in Binghamton, Ithaca, Syracuse and Albany last week searching for students with such dreams. Based in New York City, the show was given lists of public and private schools from the area, and producers interviewed students. Principal Sister James Therese Downey, OSF, admitted that she wasn’t an avid MTV viewer herself, so she asked her friends and family their opinions of the show. After hearing all positive feedback, she decided to let MTV interview students from Bishop Grimes.

“It looks like they are trying to help kids improve… and the kids would like it,” Sister James Therese said. Posters went up in the school announcing the impending arrival of MTV, though the exact date wasn’t known. Questionnaires were placed in the main office, but many students didn’t believe MTV was really coming and thought it was a prank, Sister James Therese said. When MTV finally arrived on Thursday, March 9, students anxiously waited to be interviewed by the casting producer. Each was given approximately a five-minute interview and answered questions about family, school activities and social life. Then, “Give me a good, heartfelt reason why this is important to you,” David Grant asked them, explaining that MTV was looking for sincere reasons.

Christopher Jacques, a 16-year-old sophomore at Grimes, wants to be a better paintball player. “My friends said, ‘Try what you can do. Be a ladies man, be a wrestler,’” Christopher said. Finally, one friend said to him, “Do whatever you want to do and pray for the best.” Paintball, Christopher decided, was his passion. Though he has some experience with the sport, he was disappointed in his skill level.

“It breaks my heart to know they [my parents] have all this confidence in me, and I have no confidence for myself,” Christopher said, hoping MTV will give him an opportunity to gain both more confidence and skill to achieve his goal. Senior Sarah Long, 17, would like to be a hip-hop dancer. Voted “Teacher’s Pet” in the school’s superlatives, Sarah would also like more confidence. “I want to be comfortable with who I am,” she said. “I don’t know how to dance at all. I can barely pull off the Macarena! I want to be able to dance for the prom.” Senior Renee Fen, 18, wants to be made into a softball player. “They’re looked up to. They have special privileges,” she said. “They are respected.” She explained how she would like to belong to the softball clique and gain the same respect they have.

Tenth grader Michael Landers, 16, wanted to be made into a racer car driver. He asked for help learning the basics, explaining that racing is his dad’s passion. “It would be a bonding experience between me and my father,” Michael explained. Students wanted to be MADE for different reasons. Some wanted confidence and respect from their peers and parents. Some wanted to be thought of as a more multi-faceted person, such as the cheerleaders who wanted to shed their stereotypical image.

“I want people to think of me differently, not as a ditzy cheerleader,” ninth-grader Becky Houston said, who wanted to learn how to play paintball. And sophomore Lauren Zlemba, 15, wanted to be transformed from a cheerleader into a wrestler. “Nobody thinks I could do it, but with a little help, I think I can,” she said. “Pain is nothing.” Each interview was videotaped by the producer to bring back to NYC for review. Grant explained the show would then pursue the stories they liked. Within a month, applicants, if chosen, receive a phone call to check the interest level and parents would be contacted. A more extensive second interview would then take place. So what will happen if a Bishop Grimes student is chosen to be MADE? Sister James Therese said that people would be excited, and cameras would come around for a couple days. But, she added, it wouldn’t be a bad disruption — just excitement.

“It would be great if one of our kids got on there.” she said.
For more information on the television show, visithttp://www.mtv.com/onair/castingcall/story.jhtml?id=1456270.

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