Building Utopia: Fox TV casting in Vermont for new reality show
BRATTLEBORO -- If you're a Jack or Jane of all trades and have a year to kill, Fox TV is looking for you.
In Fox's new reality show, "Utopia," 15 people will leave behind all they know and love to create their own ideal mini-society, all the while being followed by hundreds of cameras. "Utopia" is based on a Dutch reality show of the same name, created by John de Mol, who is also responsible for "Big Brother," "The Voice" and "Deal Or No Deal."
In the third week of April, Jacqueline Topacio, a casting producer, will be in Vermont to interview prospective candidates who are crazy enough to want to build in one year a civilization from scratch.
"This is not an open casting call," said Topacio. "We need people who know what they are doing and are going to commit for a whole year."
But before she speaks with potential reality TV stars, they need to be 21 or older and apply at utopiatvcasting.com. To learn more about the show, visit www.fox.com/utopia. Those who think they have what it takes, need to apply online and upload a three-minute video explaining what their vision for Utopia is and why they should be chosen.
Topacio knows all about Vermont and the characters who populate the Green Mountain State. Most recently, she was here casting for National Geographic's "Building Wild" cabin-building show.
"Vermont isn't usually one of the main places to cast," said Topacio. "I pitched it and I was asked why Vermont? I told them it's a goldmine of great characters. When I was out there, I met so many people who didn't do just one thing."
Topacio met people such as a teacher who also sugared maple syrup, a veterinarian who is also a builder and a ski coach who also invented new tools for sustainable farming.
"Everyone in Vermont seems to do more than just one thing," she said, and those are the kinds of people she is looking for. "We need people who are smart and scrappy, who are comfortable on a tractor or a snowmobile."
Kristin Curtin, the show's supervising casting producer, is also familiar with Vermont. She was in Dover in the summer of 2013 filming an episode of Gordon Ramsay's "Hotel Hell." She said it wasn't too tough of a sell to convince her to expand the casting call to Vermont.
"People in Vermont are very resourceful and very inspiring," she said. "There is a wealth of people there we are excited to tap into."
Curtin said she and Topacio aren't looking for people you normally see on reality TV shows.
"We are looking for genuine, authentic people who are incredibly passionate," said Curtin. "This is their opportunity to build a society that is idealistic and completely new. This is their time and platform to tell America and all the viewers how society should be run."
"They could be farmers, carpenters, hunters, veterinarians, clergy, former military, police officers, inventors, college students; people who have the passion and determination to build a new society," said Topacio.
And, obviously, they're looking for people who aren't shy, because they will be under the watchful eye of remote cameras 24 hours a day.
Not only will there be a regular weekly show on Fox, but the cameras will be streaming the activities online, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, said Topacio.
The location is top secret, and the 15 participants will be given some rudimentary tools, shelter, livestock and seeds and will be expected to craft together a functioning society.
As in "Big Brother," the Utopians will select fellow participants for elimination in a process in which the viewers also vote. After the vote, three inhabitants land in the danger zone, and two aspiring new contestants arrive. But Topacio said it will be in the participants' best interests to always keep the most capable people around to insure their new society is a success. The rewards are also being kept secret, she said.
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