Hopefuls line up for a shot at televized stardom

The Prague Post

An assortment of curious acts audition for Talentmania show

A 16-year-old dancer pulled out an MP3 player to find an appropriate tune. He stuck it back in his pocket and began to groove, channeling Michael Jackson, sliding and writhing in front of the concession stands at the CineStar movie theater in Andel May 29.

Stanislav Cihák hopes to bring his creative dance moves to the small screen next fall, when Talentmania, a reality television show a la Britain’s Got Talent and America’s Got Talent, airs.

Vítek Pokorný is the show’s Czech creative producer, who also worked on the popular Cesko Slovenská SuperStar program. Like its singing-based predecessor, Talentmania is searching for contestants in both the Czech Republic and Slovakia. After a grueling week of casting, seeing the team interview potential contestants in 16 cities from Plzen to Ostrava and Bratislava to Košice, Pokorný looked a bit haggard.

“Till now, I’ve seen people from the age of 3 to 75,” he said. “There are hundreds of people here today [the final day of casting], and we’ve seen thousands over the week.”

Producers need about 700 contestants to make the first five to seven episodes, Pokorný said.

Hopeful stars patiently waited their turn, lining theater halls and lounging with supportive friends and family. Daniel Spilko, a 22-year-old Michael Jackson impersonator from Karlovy Vary, waited to strut his stuff. Spilko has been impersonating the singer since he was 6 years old, because, “Michael Jackson is amazing, the best, king.”

Spilko currently puts on shows at discos and other venues and would like to make impersonating a fulltime gig.

TV Nova Programming Director David Stogel says the show came about based on the success of Cesko Slovenská SuperStar.

“We wanted to produce another big entertainment format for both countries,” he said.

Pokorný saw quite a variety of people and talents in seven days. The 3-year-old girl could recognize the flags of countries worldwide. The 75-year-old recited original poetry. In Plzen a hypnotist cast his spell while, in Hradec Králové, they met a man who played the saw with a bow. Females auditioned two to three times more than males, Pokorný said.

IT specialist Petr Beneš planned to sing either “New York, New York” or “Jekyll and Hyde” during his audition, depending on what the judges preferred. That was a smart move, as Pokorný asked many during tryouts if they had something additional prepared. Two girls, about 10 years old, sang a duet, but when asked to dance, sing another song or tell a joke, they simply stood, embarrassed. Like all the contestants, they were told they’d learn the results in about two weeks.

“SuperStar is confined to [specific] ages and singing,” Stogel said. “This type of show is also entertainment, but there are no limits on age or what you can do, so it brings out more types of people.”

Talentmania will feature a panel of four judges with various entertainment connections that will make the final decisions: director Zdenek Troška, composer Pavol Habera (also a judge on SuperStar), model Alena Šeredová and Adéla Banášová (SuperStar’s co-host). Audiences will be able to vote via SMS, and the winner will take home 150,000 euros ($184,500/3.9 million Kc).

SuperStar’s popularity, according to Stogel, was based on its family-entertainment value.

“[Talentmania] will highlight many different types of talent from across both countries in a fun and exciting way,” he said. “Viewers will see some crazy things, things they haven’t seen on TV before.”