Wannabe celebs using reality TV as a shortcut to stardom are finding it's not as easy as it seems -- an excerpt from Entertainment Weekly's Aug. 2, 2002, issue
George Boswell is part of the fastest-growing phylum of celebrity: the reality-TV contestant. This stocky, indefatigably jolly, 43-year-old father of three was locked in the ”Big Brother” house in 2000, where he distinguished himself by dressing up as a spaceman and a soldier (complete with colander helmet). Upon being voted out of the house, the commercial roofer was astounded at the attention he got. He was featured in People and on the Sally Jessy Raphaël Show. Winnebago, Ill. (pop. 2,958), the farm town he grew up in, held a George Boswell Day, as did Kemah, Tex. (pop. 2,333), a city George had never heard of.
All this adulation taught George one thing: He was destined for showbiz. ”I would really like to do it, and I will do it,” he says. ”The bottom line is, I made that show.” He’d always wanted to stop his grueling roofing work, and now he has dismantled his business and devoted himself to acting full-time. He has spent two stints in L.A. going to casting calls (to no avail — although he did get one callback at Disney). He is also working on a kids’ show pilot called ”Uncle George’s Barnyard Adventures,” which he is shooting in his garage. He hasn’t landed any paying gigs yet, and his loyal wife of 24 years, Teresa, now supports the family as a tax preparer. ”My ultimate goal would be to be on ‘Saturday Night Live,”’ says George, who is now taking improv classes in Chicago. ”And I could do it.”
George is just one of many reality-TV vets who are convinced they can do it. After the cast of the first ”Survivor” became dirt-covered cover boys and girls, the reality genre looked like a sure way to skip all that pesky thespian dues paying and make it in the biz. And with all networks loading up on their own backstabapaloozas, there are plenty of opportunities for anyone with a fame fantasy to make it come true.
Original ”Survivor” Colleen Haskell, who landed a costarring role in the Rob Schneider film ”The Animal,” is the role model, but the reality that no reality vet has since landed such a high-profile gig (barring a smattering of VJ and cable-hosting jobs) has not dimmed their hopes. ”It’s too soon to tell right now [if Colleen was an isolated incident],” says ”Survivor: Africa”’s Kelly Goldsmith, 22, who decided to pass on a job as a behavioral research analyst and moved to L.A. to become an actress. (She currently stars in a video espousing safe sex for college students.) ”For all I know there are going to be six Survivors in an upcoming pilot.” Well, Kelly, there aren’t.