That time I almost became a reality TV star

I assured myself that my nascent writing career could survive becoming the next Pauly D.
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I was almost sort of famous

Illustration by Chris Piascik

In the fall of 2011, I received an email from a casting agent who’d grown up in Atlanta and now worked at a New York–based production company. “I’m looking for dynamic groups of high school alumni that are still in touch with one another,” the message began. The groups needed to be made up of “successful, established, classy individuals.” The theme of the show, which Bravo supposedly planned to broadcast, was “where we were then, where we are now.”

I was 29 and struggling to make it as a freelance writer. MTV’s Jersey Shore was the hottest thing on TV. Those idiots are getting paid, I thought. Why not me and my old buddies? A decade after graduating from Paideia, we were still tight. And at least some of us were semi-successful. We had a radio program director, a tech entrepreneur, a solar entrepreneur, a lawyer, a DJ, and me. I assured myself that my nascent writing career could survive becoming the next Pauly D.

Soon after discussions with the agent commenced, my friend Rick was already seeing stars. “We are closing in on our own reality show, and the international fame and fortune that will inevitably flow from it,” he wrote to the rest of our group. Wearing suits—classy! established!—Rick and I filmed each other, per the agent’s instruction, awkwardly musing about our tame high school experience (that time we played hooky and went to a Braves game!). Despite the agent’s earnestly expressed crush on Rick—“Sorry if this is totally unprofessional,” she emailed him, “but you are really good looking”—we didn’t get cast on the show. In fact, no show ever aired; it died in development. A few years later the same agent emailed again: “Nationwide search,” the message began, “for affluent engaged couples who have gregarious personalities for a hit series!”

This article originally appeared in our May 2017 issue.

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