Another one of my wife’s favorite television shows doesn’t involve home decorating, room staging, painting furniture or building decks. It’s the one where Stacy and Clinton surprise someone who’s been nominated for a makeover by well-meaning (but cruel) family members and friends.

I’ve been trapped into watching this metamorphosis more times than I care to admit, but I’m still not converted. Still, I watch, and I watch the first five minutes particularly, because I want to be able to identify the clues should the time come when someone is secretly taping me in a “what not to wear” outfit. Even the most dapper and dashing folks are seen occasionally in such a disguise.

Fortunately for me and for almost half the U.S. population, it seems that all the victims — or shall I say, targets — of these makeovers are women. I can understand it.

Women have many more options when it comes to wardrobe, and the number of men willing to sit down for a session on how to apply eyebrow pencil and foundation is probably limited.

But never mind your wardrobe. “Reality shows” have brought society to a point where the type of coaching once reserved for broadcasters and stage performers needs to be expanded to include the general public. The average Joe and Jodee never know when they will be on-air for their inevitable 15 minutes of fame.

How many times have you watched someone win a prize on radio or television, and conclude they might has well given it to a brick wall?

“Susie, you’re our winner of $1 million a year for life, plus an all-expense-paid family vacation to five destinations of your choice worldwide! What do you have to say?”

“Oh, swell. Who’s going to take care of the dogs?”


“Wilbur, you’ve just won a brand new Ferrari 612 Scaglietti, with 10 years of free gasoline, all tax-free! What do you think about that?”

“Uh, I’d hurt my back getting in and out of something that low. How about a pickup instead?”

People like this have got to learn to go with the program. When the spotlight is on, you’re supposed to perform. You’ve got to get excited, to show some emotion. Watch “The Price Is Right” or “Deal or No Deal,” and you’ll get the idea.

“Mort, you’ve just won two front row tickets to next week’s Boy George concert courtesy of Get-With-It 101 radio!”

“Yee-haw! I’ve never won anything in my life!” (…even though you’re thinking in the back your mind, “And I still haven’t.”)

With the sudden proliferation of high-stakes game shows and reality programs on the air waves, your chances of being a star have never been better. Now’s the time to get ready to shine.

Our son was a theater major in college, and since graduation he has been going to auditions, seeking primarily his next project. But he’s also hoping for something that years from now he can look back on as his “big break.”

In a lighter moment, I asked him if his college curriculum included a workshop on posing with your arms folded while staring at the camera with a stern look. And later, if they practiced walking crisply down a hall or sidewalk chatting with co-stars. These must be the first scenes directors shoot because television dramas need them while rolling introductory credits and theme songs. This actually appears to be the toughest acting many of the performers are asked to do.

There also seems to be a growing need for roles as homicide victims. Surely, there’s an acting coach out there willing to ring up $10,000 a semester in college tuition and teach kids how to hold their breath, turn blue and lie still for 60 seconds. The guy at the Red Cross Learn to Swim class when I was in elementary school only wanted $5 for the entire week.

It will all be worth it, though, I told my son, when you make it into the big time. The show must go on, and they’re paying big bucks to people who will play the part.

Oh, and don’t forget to dress for success, too.

Gene Deason is managing editor of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Friday. He may be reached by e-mail at