ESPN casting call comes to ‘Burgh |

ESPN casting call comes to ‘Burgh

So, you want to star in a sportscaster reality show.

You’re not alone.

ESPN’s open casting call for the next SportsCenter anchor has weaved through five cities and attracted nearly 3,000 contestants.

Among them were a 70-year-old woman, a former Harlem Globetrotter, two ministers, and Wednesday at the Sports Rock in the Strip District, two Pitt football players.

Wide receivers Chris Curd and Yogi Roth were among 200 contestants who tested their sports knowledge and argumentative powers before a panel of judges that included ex-Steelers stars Andy Russell and Rocky Bleier, college football expert Beano Cook and Penguins winger Steve McKenna.

About 15, including Curd, made it past the pop quiz and 10-minute debate. They advanced to interview a celebrity and audition in front of a camera.

Any of them could be called back for further interviews and still are eligible to win a contest that will travel through 29 cities before the real competition begins.

“Dream Job,” billed as “The Search For The Next SportsCenter Anchor!” will kick into gear Feb. 22 with an “American Idol”-style competition in which contestants will compete in a number of sportscaster-related activities.

A panel of judges, plus viewers, will cast votes and eliminate contestants after each round.

The competition will take place over six consecutive Sundays, after which a winner will be crowned and awarded a one-year, on-air talent contract with ESPN.

Jill Balmer, 56, of Allenport, was among the lucky 15. When she arrived at work, she had no idea she’d be auditioning for SportsCenter six hours later.

Balmer’s boss at General Industries in Charleroi spotted the ad for “Dream Job” and immediately e-mailed her.

“His e-mail said, ‘This is you,’ ” Balmer said. “I’m kind of known as a sports nut, but I had no idea I’d be here. Look at my hair. I didn’t even wash it.”

The great unwashed included folks of all sizes, ages and colors. The majority, however, neatly fit the coveted 18-34 male demographic.

“It was everything I expected,” said Gregg VanVoorhis, 26, of Gibsonia. “It was a grueling test of your sports knowledge and an on-the-spot test of how you can talk under pressure.”

A man from Morgantown, W. Va., arrived at 3:45 a.m. for the 10 a.m. start, fearing the long lines that marked auditions in Los Angeles and New York.

Quiz questions ranged from relatively easy (“How many Super Bowls did the Buffalo Bills reach?”) to very challenging (“Where was Manute Bol born?”)

Answers: four and Sudan.

From there, contestants were put in groups and peppered with questions such as, “Who is the greatest athlete of all-time?”

This led to intense debates.

After that, most were sent home. The rest, such as Curd, interviewed a celebrity (in Curd’s case, Russell) and read scripts in front of the camera.

According to casting producer Rebecca Shumsky – who also spots talent for the show “Fear Factor” – Curd has skills.

“He was really well-spoken,” she said, “and he’s nice to look at.”

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.