2007-08-09 / Happenings

'Kid Nation' comes calling

By Cheryl Holladay

PICK ME! PICK ME! More than 200 kids from northern Michigan waited throughout the day Monday for a chance to be on CBS' "Kid Nation," a new reality TV show for eight-to-15-yearolds. Sixty children from across the nation will be chosen to take part in the show, which calls for the participants to create a society and form a government, all without the help of adults. (Photos by Cheryl Holladay) PICK ME! PICK ME! More than 200 kids from northern Michigan waited throughout the day Monday for a chance to be on CBS' "Kid Nation," a new reality TV show for eight-to-15-yearolds. Sixty children from across the nation will be chosen to take part in the show, which calls for the participants to create a society and form a government, all without the help of adults. (Photos by Cheryl Holladay) So you wanna be a staaa?

More than 200 kids lined up for an open casting call Monday at Arnie's Arts & Crafts to produce audition tapes for the second season of CBS's "Kid Nation." If you haven't heard of it- the first season will air this fall- Kid Nation is a reality TV show for kids. It's like "Survivor" for eight-to-15-yearolds.

Once the casting call has narrowed down from the 500 finalists to 60, then to the final 40, the kids will spend 40 days building a society of their own- without any adults. They will work with each other to run their own government and maintain their own economy. At the end of each episode an elected council of kids awards the "Gold Star," worth $20,000, to one of their peers. Each kid on the show is also paid $5,000.

GETTING PREPPED Jordyn Perialas, 13, listens to instructions from a 9 & 10 cameraman before giving a two-minute audition presentation for the second season Kid Nation. She said her brothers did not want to try out for the 40-day program, adding she thinks she's tough enough for the reality program. The first season of Kid Nation is set to air this fall. GETTING PREPPED Jordyn Perialas, 13, listens to instructions from a 9 & 10 cameraman before giving a two-minute audition presentation for the second season Kid Nation. She said her brothers did not want to try out for the 40-day program, adding she thinks she's tough enough for the reality program. The first season of Kid Nation is set to air this fall. Arnie's Arts 'N' Crafts, Houghton Lake, and 9 &10 News teamed up to host the casting call for all kids who want to be on the program. Each child who showed up to audition was given two minutes of camera time to let producers know why he or she should be on the show.

One girl, Jordan Coon, 13, Harrison, camped out in the Arnie's parking lot Sunday night to be first in line. An unassuming eighth grader, she looked into the 9 & 10 camera and said, "Don't let my looks fool you, I can do it."

Many of the early applicants- the recording began at 10 a.m.- had applications in hand already filled out, while some filled theirs out in line.

Kelly McLatcher, 14, St. Helen, issued number "72," wanted to give it a try.

"Forty days, 40 kids- no adults," she said, repeating the tagline of the show.

Her dad, Harry McLatcher, said she had seen the TV ad.

"This is all her idea," he said

Jordyn Perialas, 13, Roscommon, said she found out about the casting call because her mom, Carrie, goes to Arnie's "all the time," and her brothers were not interested in trying out.

"They just didn't want to do it," she said, adding she thinks she's tough enough.

Alongside her and her brothers, Bailey and Casey, was her dad, Jim. He said he "wasn't too keen on the idea," but he waited with his daughter and watched her audition speech.

"I've seen the commercial on TV, but she did it all on her own," he said, adding he would miss her if she were chosen, plus she would miss 40 days of school, and therefore, he hoped she didn't make it.

"You're real supportive, dad!" she replied, good-naturedly.

Samantha Larrick, 14, Houghton Lake, said she tried out in order to prove "girls can do things just as good as boys," but admitted she forgot to include the line, "if not better" while being taped.

Harley Bainbridge, 12, and Kitty Reynoso, 9, both of Houghton Lake, had been in line since about 8:30 a.m. They said they had shown up for a chance to win money and be on TV.

Other kids came from Mancelona, Charlevoix, West Branch, Reed City and Suttons Bay. One boy, Briar Creech, 9, who lives in Canton but was with his family at their vacation home in Moorestown, was described by his mother, Sherry, as "outdoorsy."

"He likes to get dirty," she said.

Other area children seen in line were Garrett Heise, 11, and the Press boys, Stephen, 14, Richard, 12, and Thomas, 10.

Taylar Akin, 12, also of Houghton Lake, said she waited in line for about two hours for her two-minute taping.

"I sort of knew what I was gonna say by what I put on my application," she said. She and the other children had filled out a 54- question application and wrote about their favorite things, their heroes, and the like. She does not know when she will be notified how she did.

One of the managers at Arnie's, Robin Mester, said the store stayed busy all afternoon.

"It was a wonderful idea," she said. "Everyone was really excited about doing this."

She said 9&10's Media Consultant Sue Kelly Jacobs was key is having the casting call at Houghton Lake.

"Sue was instrumental in getting it in here," Mester said.

She said many children were from out of town and were wellbehaved in line.

"We'd do it again," she said.

The first season of Kid Nation, already shot at the Bonanza Creek Movie Ranch (a privately owned town built on the ruins of Bonanza City, New Mexico, near Santa Fe), called for the children to create a functioning society and establish a government. The children tried to prove that they can create a functioning society without adult help or supervision. The program was originally scheduled to air in the summer of 2007.

According to wikipedia.org, the show stresses the difficulty of creating a viable society. Producer Tom Foreman acknowledged before an audience of television reviewers that "Kid Nation" would inevitably share some elements with William Golding's novel "Lord of the Flies," which depicted shipwrecked children functioning without adult supervision during World War II. He said, however, that many adults stood by off-camera, including cameramen, producers, a medic, and a child psychologist, though they interacted with the children as little as possible. No parents were present on the set, but any child could decide to leave the show.

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