#039;Our Town#039; goes

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 3, 2005


By Angie Long

The reviews are in: last weekend’s whirlwind trip to New York City for the taping of ABC-TV’s &uot;My Kind of Town&uot; was a smash success.

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Words and phrases such as &uot;really fun,&uot; &uot;a great adventure,&uot; &uot;fantastic,&uot; &uot;hilarious&uot; and &uot;a once-in-a-lifetime experience&uot; have been bandied about by the nearly 200 Greenvillians who traveled to the Big Apple for the taping of the new reality game show. The Greenville episode is tentatively slated to air on Sunday, August 21 at 8 p.m. on ABC Television.

‘On the road again’

The group assembled at Greenville High School early Saturday morning to sign paperwork required by the network before boarding the chartered buses. They also enjoyed muffins, scones, pastries and plenty of reviving coffee, courtesy of Just Julie’s.

And that was just the beginning of a marathon of eating. A second, and very substantial, breakfast was served en route to New York.

Everyone received a box lunch while in the Big Apple, featuring deli sandwiches, fresh fruit and cookies, while cheese pizza and salad were served on the return flight home.

&uot;They certainly fed us well,&uot; Judy Messina, retired Greenville High librarian, laughed.

&uot;Oh, I don’t think I’ve eaten so much in one day…I guess they wanted to make sure we kept our strength up,&uot; Pratha Harrison, who works at Pioneer Electric, said.

And stamina was certainly needed for the long, but exciting, day experienced by the &uot;My Kind of Town&uot; audience members.

After traveling by four motor coaches to Montgomery, the group boarded a charter flight aboard an American Airlines 757 for a two-hour journey to Newark’s Liberty Airport. Despite the trepidation of some who had never flown before, all went smoothly.

&uot;Can you imagine – actually getting to board a plane in Montgomery and fly directly to New York? How often does that happen?&uot; Messina said.

Boarding another set of buses, the group traveled from New Jersey through the famed Lincoln Tunnel, taking in the cityscape of New York. The Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, a number of Broadway theaters and the Ed Sullivan Theater, where the David Letterman Show is taped, were among the favorite spots sighted by the locals.

After signing yet more papers and enjoying lunch in a night club affectionately dubbed &uot;the cave&uot; by many Greenvillians, it was time to board the buses once more and take a short trip to Sony Music Studios, the sight of the show’s taping.

Applause, applause

Taping for the one-hour show took approximately three hours, and audience members professed they found the in-studio experience &uot;fascinating.&uot;

&uot;To be able to see the actual process of filming a real show and to promote Greenville – what a great experience,&uot; Messina said.

She was doubly delighted when her two children, who both live in New York City, were able to join their mother for the taping.

&uot;That was the icing on the cake,&uot; Messina said.

Everyone learned the importance of staying upbeat and enthusiastic for a production like &uot;My Kind of Town.&uot;

&uot;My hands actually hurt – I had done so much clapping,&uot; Meredith Mann, who was featured in one of the pre-taped surprise skits for the show, said.

Many discovered they had scratchy throats, tired hands and sore arms after the taping.

&uot;I was really, really tired [after the taping] – but I think it is because I laughed so much. That’s the best time I’ve had in years,&uot; Petie Cureton of Whitney Bank declared.

&uot;I really enjoyed the host [Johnny Vaughn] and the band providing live music. It was all such an extremely pleasant experience,&uot; she added.

Cheering on the ‘home team’

Cureton likened the atmosphere in the studio to that of a football game, with fans heartily cheering on the home team.

&uot;I think we all had a good attitude and we looked good. Those bright colors they asked us to wear looked so attractive in the studio,&uot; Harrison commented.

&uot;I think our folks were all good sports about everything they were involved in,&uot; Messina said.

And everyone, it seems, have special places in their hearts for the individual chosen to serve as &uot;Hometown Champ.&uot;

&uot;They couldn’t have made a better choice, in my opinion,&uot; Gerri Castleberry said.

&uot;This person was just precious and did a marvelous job,&uot; Messina agrees.

The Greenville contingent arrived back in the Camellia City early Sunday morning, weary, sore, but happy. No one left the show empty handed, and all brought back memories that will likely never forget.

Treated like royalty

Audience members lauded the entire &uot;My Kind of Town&uot; production crew for all their hard work and positive attitude.

&uot;The people from ABC were very upbeat and enthusiastic…they went out of their way to make it a great experience for us,&uot; Messina said.

&uot;We felt special. I thought we were treated like royalty,&uot; Harrison said.

&uot;It’s certainly the first time I went to NYC and didn’t spend a penny,&uot; Messina laughed.

In addition to the excitement of being part of a show that will be seen by millions, &uot;My Kind of Town&uot; audience members also said they appreciated the chance to get to know some local folks better.

&uot;I enjoyed being with people you don’t ordinarily get to spend time with – that was part of the fun of the trip,&uot; Harrison said.

&uot;I met some really nice people from Greenville that I didn’t know before this experience,&uot; Castleberry said.

And how do they think the local audience will react to the finished product they will see on the screen later this month?

&uot;I think it will be really funny and everybody’s going to want to watch it. I don’t think they made us look bad at all,&uot; Colin MacGuire said.

&uot;This was done all in the spirit of fun and playfulness – I think it will be a very positive experience,&uot; Cureton said.

&uot;Everything was done in good taste, and it never hurts to poke a little fun at yourselves,&uot; Harrison said.

Would they do it again?

&uot;Absolutely, in a heartbeat,&uot; Harrison laughed.

A confirmed air date will be announced later, so watch &uot;The Greenville Advocate&uot; for further announcements.