Wednesday, September 22, 2004
Working a 'Dream Job' ... from my couch
By Dan Shanoff Special to Page 3
Yes, yes: It's a lot easier to mock Dream Job
contestants from the comfort of my couch than to step
up and recognize the level of difficulty involved in
pulling off a live, nationally televised audition to
be a SportsCenter anchor. But, hey, they put
themselves out there ...
This week's challenge: Top 5 Lists, and the
criteria includes Writing, Creativity, Knowledge and
Delivery --- and, from their performances, apparently
Cheesiness, Unfamiliarity with Numbers and just a
touch of Arrogance.
As usual, the contestants will be judged by the Fab
Four: Woody Paige, Kit Hoover, Stephen A. Smith (SAS)
and My Main Man, Al Jaffe. What will be tonight's "We
Think Alike!" moment? Let's find out.
On the stage tonight: The second half the 12 finalists
(the other six went last week).
First up: JASON H. Intro: Jason's a Syracuse student (the second
Cuse guy of the comp; last week's Orangeman was
sensational). Apparently, from his intro tape, if he
doesn't do well, a family member will cry. Or
something like that. I great: Now I'm tearing up
myself ... Moving on ...
The Good: Solid writing, with perhaps the line
of the night (certainly setting the high bar), doing a
highlight about fishing: "Talk dirty to that bass."
You had me at the innuendo, my friend.
The Bad: He was a little too "Smooth Jazz
Jason" for me; flawless delivery, but no real
The Ugh-ly: Dude, I know John Kerry still wears
one, but those yellow Lance rubber bands are so
The Judges: Woody wants to see more excitement.
Kit liked his information. (Wait, where's the rip? Ah!
Here comes SAS!) Stephen A. "couldn't find a mistake."
Hunh? Wow, this guy is good. Al bats cleanup
with "Another week, another Syracuse person, another
My verdict: Having not seen any of the other
contestants tonight, I think we could very well see a
Syracuse-Syracuse final pairing.
Next: WHITNEY Intro: Here's what turned me off -- she came
across like she was trying to apologize and/or justify
being a cheerleader when she was in high school.
Didn't she see "Bring It On?" Embrace that,
Whitney didn't nail the highlights, but her outfit selection was on the mark.
The Good: Someone was watching the Emmys, where
green was the new black.
The Bad: Didn't provide enough information
during the highlights, just describing the clips.
The Ugh-ly: She got to call the
Stanford-Arizona ending (which was one of the best
college hoops endings ever), and she just didn't bring
The Judges: Kit thought she looked good. SAS
noted "not enough energy" and said "the lead just
didn't move me." Al called it "solid," but nicked her
for letting the camera catch her with her head down,
instead of looking at the prompter. Woody called it
an "exceptionally good performance." And host Stuart
Scott offered the value-add comment of the night: When
you're doing a Top 5, "build it" -- meaning the drama
over the five highlights. No one really did this
My verdict: There's room for improvement
certainly. Stick with the colors in the outfits.
Next: DAVID Intro: Compared Dream Job to the Ryder Cup,
which has to be one of the worst-timed analogies in
the history of reality TV.
The Good: One of the lines of the night,
employing Dick Chaney's arteries in an analogy for a
Tayshaun Prince blocked shot. Nicely done!
The Bad: At the end, when he signed off as "I'm
SportsCenter," instead of "I'm David."
The Ugh-ly: Three words: Find a tailor.
Swimming in his suit.
The Judges: Al liked his intro and called it
"overall good job." Kit thought the writing was
clever. Woody "wasn't as impressed as Al" and would
have liked to see a little better writing. Loved the
Dick Cheney analogy, as did SAS, who also wanted more
energy. Now, this was huge, because apparently, this
poor schlub wrote on his application that his leastfavorite ESPN guy was Stephen A. Yikes!
My verdict: Solid -- if unspectacular --
delivery, plus that great Chaney analogy, probably is
enough to push him to the next round.
Cheer up Stephanie, better days are ahead.
Where host Stuart Scott pairs up the players, then
gives them a sports issue to debate, "Fact or Fiction"
Suffice to say, they all made pretty weak, thin
arguments. (Hint, same as last week! Simply repeating
the claim three times over 20 seconds does not make
Jason H won kudos from the judges for a solid
performance. Stephanie (who we have yet to see
tonight, so this is her first impression) got blitzed
from all sides. An inauspicious start.
Next: STEPHANIE Intro: She loves the Cowboys, but I'm a lot
more worried about her having to go straight from
"Fact or Freeze-Up" to doing her solo spotlight Top
The Good: This is not going to be a good ending
for her tonight.
The Bad: Read a little bit too slowly.
The Ugh-ly: Called "Johns Hopkins" the wrong
name ("St. John's") in a lacrosse highlight. Let's
just go to the judges ...
The Judges: Kit commented on the slowness. SAS:
"I didn't understand anything you were saying in your
lead." And he pointed out, rightly, that she sounded
like she was reading, not talking. Al agreed, noting
that she didn't sound conversational enough. Woody
showed a tremendous amount of compassion at the end,
trying to find the silver lining in the experience for
My verdict: She seems like a very nice person,
who unfortunately had an off-night -- compounded when
she had to do the halftime task, then immediately do
her own segment. I don't think she'll be moving on to
the next round.
Next: JASON A. The Intro: Apparently, he's cocky. Let's see...
yup, he's one arrogant dude. Too bad this isn't an
audition for "CheeseCenter."
The Good: Super-high energy. So much energy, in
The Bad: His delivery, at times, sounded like
he was trying to pass a stone -- something between a
grunt and a groan.
The Ugh-ly: His lead-in started with the old
"Webster's dictionary defines...," which is pretty
much the worst, lamest opening ever.
The Judges: Al hated the Webster's reference
(Aha! Our "We Think Alike" moment of the night!), but
thought Jason "sold" his enthusiasm. Woody chided him
for his weak facts. Kit said he looked like he was
having fun. And SAS put it all together: "Style
without substance doesn't mean a damn thing." Amen.
My verdict: He might think he's finalist
material, but I think ultimately his vibe will grate
on the judges (and, sooner than that, America). He may
make it through the next few rounds, simply because
the first week talent was so weak, but he's not a Top
Go on and applaud yourself, Winston.
Next: WINSTON Intro: Apparently scarred by a childhood memory
of a tough Browns loss, which may partially explain
why he has yet to smile. Maybe I should ironically dub
The Good: Despite the fact that he's humorless,
I kind of dug his vibe up there. Maybe it's his voice.
The Bad: He had a hockey concussion highlight
to do, and he really made fun of the player. That's
just not cool. The rest of us manage to hold back when
considering making comments about someone's
appearance ... hear me?
The Ugh-ly: Worst. Cosell. Ever. He was doing a
boxing highlight and broke out the "Down goes ... !"
line, and you could feel the national wince.
The Judges: Woody liked his writing at the
start and finish, but thought the middle sagged. Kit
pointed out the bordering-on-non-funny concussion
description. SAS, ironically, said Winston needed to
smile more (correctly pointing out that as a
commentator, SAS is paid to be scowly, but as an
anchor, Winston should be inviting.) Al hated the
Cosell impression (right on, Al!) and was really put
off by Winston's closing, which added zero value.
My verdict: Winston may be the Zach Selwyn of
this season -- the character who seems interesting
enough that you want to keep him around as long as
So long, Stephanie, in a sweep. She was in a
tough draw; in last week's group, she might have made
it through. This group of five advancing is
much better than last week's five (as almost
all the judges pointed out).
Ranking Tuesday's six contenders:
1. Jason H.
3. Jason A.
Next week: The Final 10! For now, Anish and Jason H.
(The Syracuse Boys) are at the top of the leaderboard.
When they all come together next week, expect some