Adam Duerson
June 21, 2002 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Itching to make a fool of yourself? Or simply in need of cash — something in the range of, oh…a million dollars? Then you sound like a prime candidate for 15 minutes of stardom on reality TV. To help you take the first steps, we’ve compiled a guide to the application process, with advice from and the show’s producers about the essential do’s (cultivate your charisma) and don’ts (come across as a ”media whore”). Read on — and then get ready for your closeup!

Image credit: The Bachelor: Byron J. Cohen
‘BACHELOR’ PARTY Alex Michel (at r.) and ”winner” Amanda


JOB DESCRIPTION Woo or be wooed — join 25 love-yearning singles in the fight for one bachelor or bachelorette’s adoration

OFFICIAL QUALIFICATIONS ABC wants candidates that they determine to be ”outgoing, adventurous, physically and mentally fit, and sincerely seeking a marital relationship.” In other words, the type of people who would consider this show ludicrous.

WHAT THEY REALLY WANT Someone who is prone to mental breakdowns; who will throw temper tantrums and bawl incessantly if not selected; and who will make out without discretion. Implants, low self-esteem, and a lack of humility seem to score extra points.

HOW TO APPLY Make a five-minute video explaining why on earth you want to be treated like a caged animal, include a picture of yourself in your best tool pose, and visit the the official site (no deadline yet) to apply or nominate a friend…or enemy. Be prepared to consent to ”…[the] risk of death, serious injury” (does heartbreak count?), ”illness or disease” (STDs?), and/or ”property damage” (that comes later). Now, go get ’em!

Image credit: Dog Eat Dog: Chris Haston
‘DOG’ TIRED Contestants are put through their paces

NBC, Mondays, 9 p.m.

JOB DESCRIPTION Get to know your opponents’ weaknesses, then put that knowledge to use in mental and physical challenges for the $25,000 prize.

OFFICIAL QUALIFICATIONS Executive producer Matt Kunitz describes ”Dog” as ”brains, brawn, and backstabbing.” In other words, competitors have to be well-rounded. ”I don’t want just bartenders and trainers,” he clarifies. ”That’s the most common contestant and the typical jock doesn’t make for interesting television. We want average people — but they have to be big, bold characters. I want to see someone struggle. These shows are successful in the failures, not in the successes.” (Now doesn’t that sound enticing?) Because there’s a trivia element in the contest, it might also be smart to…well, be smart.

WHAT THEY MEANT TO SAY Big, bold, beautiful…and smart!? Okay, maybe this isn’t REALLY reality TV.

HOW TO APPLY Down, boy — the show just launched in June. But you can go to the official site, where you’ll find videotape specifications and an application. Producers also send scouts around the L.A. area (with plans for geographic expansion if the show gets picked up again), looking for what they deem ”B-level or higher” personalities. Where can you be discovered? ”We tell [our scouts], ‘Think outside the box,”’ Kunitz says. ”Go to the farm. Go to a medical complex. Go to a courthouse. Get me the doctors and the lawyers!” Doctors? Lawyers? Oh, my. A few ”Dog Eat Dog” no-no’s: Actors. Models. Physical violence. And outstanding parking tickets. ”If they get arrested before the show,” says Kunitz, ”we’re screwed.”

Image credit: The Fear Factor: Chris Haston
NO ‘FEAR’ ”Factor” embraced nudity

NBC, Mondays, 8 p.m.

JOB DESCRIPTION Test the limits of your fears while vying for a $50,000 prize.

OFFICIAL QUALIFICATIONS ”What I want,” says casting producer Mikey Glazer, ”is real, genuine personality. Charisma, energy — the usual. It’s like professional wrestling. We gotta love you or we gotta hate you. But we can’t have no reaction to you. Everybody that comes in says: ‘I’m not scared of anything, I can do anything, and I’m definitely going to win the money.’ I’m looking for someone who doesn’t say any of those things — it’s so generic and cliché. I don’t want some guy who’s jacked up and huge — that’s ”American Gladiators.” More than that, I’m looking for people who are going to have fun with this opportunity.”

WHAT THEY MEANT TO SAY Considering that the ”Fear Factor” fridge beholds pig uteruses, sheep eyes, buffalo testicles, and the like, an adventuresome appetite can’t hurt. A fear of heights, water, close spaces, small rodents — all those normal phobias that human beings tend to have — will do you in.

HOW TO APPLY Videotapes (of which NBC receives thousands per week) are always welcome. (Get instructions and an application at the official site. Glazer says it’s preferable to attend an open casting call. But if you do send a video, he has a few suggestions: ”Don’t sit on your couch and talk about your life. I’ve gotten tapes of people sitting on the toilet, taking a shower, singing — don’t do that. And no skits.” If you’re interviewing, Glazer advises, ”The three kisses of death are: ‘I’m a people person,’ ‘All my friends will tell you that I’m great,’ and ‘If you knew me you’d know.’ In 44 minutes (after commercials) we don’t have time to know you!” Women, beware: ”It’s much more competitive for girls to get on the show, because we get so many more quality girl applicants.”

Image credit: Puck: Everett Collection
TOO ‘REAL’ Puck was the original ”Real World” bad boy

MTV, Tuesdays, 10 p.m.

JOB DESCRIPTION Coexist with an artificially varied group of six Gen-Y’ers in an extravagant abode. The only prize is life experience.

OFFICIAL QUALIFICATIONS According to the people behind-the-scenes, MTV’s ”The Real World” is as real today as it was when the show launched in 1992. ”We look for people that are very strongly who they are,” says casting producer Sasha Alpert. ”They have a strong point of view and they’re comfortable in their own skin. And we look for variety. You can’t put seven sorority girls or seven spoken-word poets together. It’s like a WWII genre film. You take one guy from here, and one guy from there.”

WHAT THEY MEANT TO SAY To get cast, don’t be a John Doe. Be the farmer, the virgin, the alcoholic, or Puck. And toss a few special ingredients into your travel kit: tolerance, a thick skin, and patience. Twenty weeks in a house of seven twentysomethings is no vacation.

HOW TO APPLY Though the next season has already been cast, ”Real World 13” (location undisclosed) will be looking for a new cast soon. If you can’t find MTV talent scouts at your local college campus (where they do heavy recruiting), log on to the official site and you’ll find the standard five- to 10-minute videotape requirement and an application form. With some luck, you’ll get a phone interview, a face-to-face meeting, and eventually a trip to L.A. (at MTV’s expense). From there, you get placed on ”The Real World” or ”Road Rules.” How do you NOT get on ”The Real World”? ”If [they’ve] tried out for every single reality show and we’re just another stop on their bus tour of trying to be famous — that’s our biggest red flag,” says Alpert.

Image credit: SpyTV: NBC
‘SPY’ GAMES Death becomes it

NBC (check local listings)

JOB DESCRIPTION Pull pranks on (or get pranked by) your closest friends.

OFFICIAL QUALIFICATIONS ”Our show is a bit of a hybrid,” executive producer Jeff Boggs admits of his ”Candid Camera”-meets-reality TV crossbreed. ”We’re simply looking for people who think the [prank] is hilarious right away and who are eager to pull off something like this. People who seem like they’re fun-loving and good-natured. People who are really into it.”

WHAT THEY MEANT TO SAY Simply put, someone who won’t sue.

HOW TO APPLY To be a prankster, visit the official site and register your idea. On-air credit isn’t guaranteed, but if you’re lucky, you may get to play a part in the tomfoolery. ”Anyone with a good prank who gives us some information about themselves…has a chance,” says Boggs. ”Spy TV” also has an ”accomplice team” that wanders the crowded bars and attractions of L.A., Las Vegas, San Diego, and Phoenix, soliciting people who want to set someone up. As for people who get pranked, says Boggs, ”about 90 percent of our bits involve a relative or friend setting someone up. We try not to do anything too randomly. No one gets thrown into limousines out of the blue.”

Image credit: Survivor: CBS Archive
THE FITTEST? Survivors languish on the beach

CBS, Thursdays, 8 p.m.

JOB DESCRIPTION Outlast 15 competitors in the wilderness — winner takes home a cool million.

OFFICIAL QUALIFICATIONS Excellent physical condition (relative to previous winner Richard Hatch?) and mental health (Greg?); a strong will; outgoingness; an ability to adapt to new environments; and an interesting lifestyle, background, and personality.

WHAT THEY MEANT TO SAY Don’t fool yourself — it takes a tough soul to swing seven weeks of roughing it in the great outdoors without modern conveniences. We suggest a lack of taste buds, a weasel’s mentality, and an open calendar. (Try asking your boss for seven weeks off to frolic about the woods in your underwear.) Those with fair skin and picky tastes ought to stick to the mainland.

HOW DO YOU BECOME A SURVIVOR? Apply…and pray to those Survivor gods that Jeff Probst rants about so incessantly. Visit the official site, where you’ll be prompted to compose a three-minute videotape detailing who you are and why you should be a Survivor. Then fill out an application that doubles as a personality test (If you could hold any political office, what would it be and why? What wouldn’t you do for a million dollars?). Applicants are whittled down to 500, 48, and then 16 finalists.

You May Like