The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

May 12, 2013

Conneaut auditions for new reality TV show

Program will invite the nation to watch a community reinvent itself

Star Beacon

CONNEAUT — Individuals, couples and families have been featured on reality television shows. But an entire town?

The city of Conneaut is vying for a spot on a proposed program, dubbed “Town 180,” that will invite the nation to watch a community reinvent itself through new ideas and concepts.

Show producers, at their website, describe the program as “a weekly reality competition show where two teams within your town (or two towns) will put into action an idea or many ideas that could turn your town around 180 degrees and bring back jobs, people and a whole new economy.” The creative team includes people with experience on shows such as “The Amazing Race” and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” as well as feature films, according to the website.

Towns picked for the show will benefit from a number of experts who will give tips and ideas and help the local teams devise effective business plans that will ultimately be judged by “respected business and community leaders.” The winning idea will receive $100,000, plus six months of professional consulting services.

The city has already prepared and submitted on-line a five-minute audition video that introduces the town to producers. The clip was prepared by employees of the Conneaut Public Library, who have experience preparing programming for the city’s local access cable television channels. Kathy Pape, library director, coordinated the production, which incorporates scenes of the city with comments from more than 30 people.

Following guidelines provided by the producers, Pape’s team spent a week shooting and editing a video that showcases the good aspects of Conneaut but doesn’t shy away from areas that need attention.

“We showed the positive side, but also the areas of need,” Pape said. “We went from the downtown to the lakefront area. We had people speaking who were born and raised here. Students talked about the lack of (job) opportunities here (after college graduation). We had business owners who said fresh ideas would help them out.”

Conneaut’s audition tape has already received good reviews from the program’s evaluators, Pape said. One sent Pape an e-mail to say “I like the video and I like the people of Conneaut,” she said.

Producers have to view countless audition videos, but communities that make the cut could be notified relatively soon, Pape said.

City officials, who learned about the TV show try-outs several weeks ago, asked the library to spearhead the production.

“I’m very proud the city thought about the library when completing this application,” Pape said. “It makes me and the staff very happy.”