There are some mornings where you open your eyes and you’re not exactly sure if you’ve woken up. When I was roused from my slumber, I rolled over and checked my phone. It said 6am. Already, I was disbelieving that I was actually in reality. I’m never up that early and fully alert, this had to be some sort of witchcraft. I looked over and the desk lamp was still illuminating the leftovers of dinner from the night before.
Okay, that’s definitely me.
At about that point my brain finally kicked into gear and I remembered the time difference. I have this thing I do, you know that I always wear a watch, but whenever I travel I never set it to the correct time zone. My watch is my internal clock, I can either do the math or look at my phone for the real time. I sat up in bed and checked my phone. I hadn’t told anyone really that I was doing this, so I had zero messages wishing me luck or asking how I was feeling. When I take a leap, I tend to do it alone. There’s something emboldening about taking on a new experience with only your wits about you, and if this wasn’t an adventure, then I don’t know what is.
I wasn’t about to just sit in bed until the shoot. It was 6am, we were due in hair and makeup until 11am. I took a shower and walked downstairs to grab breakfast. Two eggs, white toast, jam, and black coffee. Some things need to be a routine, the black coffee is the core of it. As I was wrapping up breakfast in the hotel restaurant, the executive producer of the show came up to me. He said that he was just about to grab breakfast and asked if he could join me. I had no where to be and nothing to do, so I showed him a chair. He started thanking me for coming on to the show and taking a chance with the pilot. I told him that it was an adventure and that I was glad to do it. The EP then told me how he met his wife on the Bachelor (one of the former contestants) and that shows like this actually work. He went over how he thought that I had a really good chance to win this thing, how he went over my file and my interview footage and thought that I would pop. I have to say, he was incredibly convincing, and the cherry on top, he paid for breakfast. After we said our farewells and parted ways, I felt oddly uplifted and focused for the filming.
Of course, I found out after the shoot that the executive literally pulled that same move on EVERY SINGLE ONE of us. He magically showed up to breakfast or our rooms before we left for the studio and imparted his words of wisdom. I mean, I’m not even mad, I’m just impressed. The level of manipulation and machinations, even just within one episode was incredibly impressive. We were the pilot (the first episode shot) and I know after us they were doing two-a-days until they finished their 10 episode run. I can’t even imagine how many breakfasts that guy had to run through with each contestant.
After breakfast, I turned on the TV and got into the shower, and by the time I finished getting ready, the car was waiting to take us to the studio. Everyone had their headphones in as we got to the lot. The producers took us to our individual dressing rooms and our wardrobe was steamed and pressed waiting for us in there. Wardrobe had decided to put me in a micro-pattern shirt which I wasn’t happy about, but apparently there were too many white shirts out there. Too late now. I switched on the TV in the dressing room and watch re-runs of The Office as I waited for production to move on to the next step. There was a knock on the door and I was taken to hair and makeup.
As a guy, we’re not used to hair and makeup. My grooming routine in the morning is legitimately getting a good haircut every six weeks, and then just waking up and running my hands through my hair a few times. And makeup? Forget about it, I legitimately know nothing. Looking at a makeup artist’s toolkit would be akin to them looking at a PCR Sequencer. I just introduced myself to my hair and makeup team and talked to them about their day. It was funny overhearing some of the other contestants being bitchy and whining to hair and makeup. Let’s make something VERY clear, it is their job to make you look good. That is literally their only imperative, because if you look terrible on-camera, it is a failure on their end and then they don’t get hired anymore. Everyone is a professional at the studio level and they know how the lights and camera will play with your skin tone. Let them do their job. I had a great time getting to know the women who worked with me and we laughed about how ridiculous the whole premise of this show was.
After that, we got sent back to our dressing rooms while the production crew finished final prep. It was a “hurry-up and wait” situation, and holy crap, was the waiting eventful. This is where things got a little crazy and suspicious for us. We were called and prepped to be walked over to the soundstage at least three separate times. Every time we got sent back to the dressing room. Finally, when we were called to finally go, one of the guys who had been rehearsing with us since the beginning, let’s call him ‘Miami’, wasn’t there anymore. That was a big problem, because the stage choreography was done with ten people, and having a hole would throw all the sightlines off. We weren’t given an explanation, he was just there in hair and makeup, and then the next time we all saw each other, Miami was gone, poof, disappeared. When we inquired about where he went, the producers wouldn’t say a damn thing.
As soon as we walked outside we saw his replacement. If you guys have seen the episode, then you’ll immediately know who I’m talking about when I call him ‘Frodo’. Every single one of the original guys was super suspicious about him, we had no idea whether he was a plant by the producers or if he was going to be up to shenanigans during the episode. Our guard was up, and as it should have been, we’re about to shoot a show that’s going to air on national TV as a pilot, they want it to have good ratings and some wow. Having a last minute addition put all of us on alert, but regardless, we were ushered to the soundstage where we started getting mic’d up.
Like I said, getting mic’d wasn’t anything new, but usually they just tuck the pack on the back of your pants or in certain shots they run a wire down your body and put the pack on your ankle. For some unknown reason, the method of attaching the pack to us was using this elastic band that they put around our waists and attached the pack to that. The thing felt like a damn corset, and I swear, it made every single guy look like he had another five pounds on in the suit. None of us liked it, but again, we were in the endgame now.
They had a warmup comedian getting the crowd all amped up and by now, we had all moved directly backstage. You could hear the crowd and music leaking through the set, at that point the nervous energy and adrenaline started to blend together. All of that stage choreography we learned the day before? Flew right out of our minds. The directors had to come back and run through the stage diagrams with us the last time, point out the camera positions. They probably edited it out, but if you saw us peeking over to stage right on the broadcast, that’s because the choreographer was embedded in the audience giving us signals.
So I told you that we were the first episode they shot right? So once the show light sequence started and the host gave his spiel, we started our action and descend down the steps. I was eighth in line, so I waited my turn patiently. However, after two of the guys went, we got full stopped. The executive producer and the network executives stopped the entire taping. At that point, we had no idea what was going to happen. After about 10 minutes of deliberation, the director came back to us and changed the whole format of the show. During the first round we were supposed to be able to speak to the mystery woman and tell her about us and convince her to take a chance on us. Now instead, there would be zero speaking, and we’d just parade out.
At that point, I knew I had zero chance at making it into the next round.
I ain’t a model, never will be. Only way I was going to make it was on charm, wit, and personality. All of that is really hard to do if you can’t speak. You do a calculation in your head about the audience and how the show works. This girl is from Nashville (the South), there are two minorities on the stage. Only one of us was making it through.
At least I spared America the swimsuit round.
Here’s where the fun part starts. So, once you get eliminated, there’s a second camera crew in the lounge catching b-roll. Along the way to the lounge, there’s a bartender serving drinks. Legally, they can only serve you one drink an hour, you know, unless the bartender is switching and they’re not keeping track. Because there’s absolutely no reason they want the contestants to be liquored up, constantly mic’d, watching the remainder of the show from the back.
This would also be a good time to say that the show is a cool 42 minutes on TV, the shoot day was ten hours. Yeah, you read correctly, TEN HOURS. That’s because there were so many changes and mistakes. Like I said, they completely changed the format of the show on the fly, and seeing as we were the pilot episode, they had to re-shoot everything. They even changed big things like the eliminations from round-to-round.
Needless to say, being cut the first round was not the worst thing in the world, we got to relax on some couches, stay hydrated, and generally just shoot the shit. Of course, the second camera crew got about nine hours of b-roll footage that is absolutely golden. I’ll keep quiet about what was said back there, but I can tell you that the show could’ve EASILY been two hours and it would have been far more entertaining. The reason why we’ve all kept in touch is because we spent so long getting to know each in the lounge and bonding over this surreal experience.
As for what happened, well, you can watch the episode. The b-roll had more off-color jokes, a lot of joking around, and some behind the scenes looks at what our proposals would have been. They also asked us to fake some emotions and reactions (look worried, look elated, look surprised) so they could splice them in if needed. Of course, they ended up using none of the b-roll (though producers, if we could get that footage, it’d be great) but it was all in there.
After the shoot, we all got taken back to the hotel, and still being on a bit of a rush on the shoot, we went to In-N-Out to have a final meal before we all parted ways. None of us knew what would happen to our episode, or what was to come, but we all agreed that we’d keep in touch. And so the waiting began, and complete silence from the production team ensued for weeks, until we saw the promos for ‘The Bachelorette’ all of sudden…
(to be concluded….)