Inside Edition comes to campus

By Simon Shifrin

Twelve good-looking students in the College earned spots in a calendar and possible television exposure after auditioning last Saturday with Inside Edition at Ida Noyes Hall.

The nationally syndicated news program held auditions for spots in their calendar. The entire process of photographing the 12 winners and six alternates on Monday was filmed for a future show. Producers chose the University for its abundance of academically-motivated students.

Three local judges selected by Inside Edition, a local disc jockey, a writer for the Chicago Tribune, and a representative from Elite Modeling Agency, asked students their GPAs and about their campus and community activities. Students were also required to demonstrate a talent, hobby, or research interest at the audition.

“We wanted to go to a place where the kids are bright,” said Inside Edition producer Rick Kramer. “The students take their life here and the University very seriously.”

Inside Edition, however, came to the University for more than just the calendar.

“The goal was just to kind of see who would show up,” Kramer said. “We’re not in the calendar business.”

“I don’t know if I would use the word experiment,” he said. “If you’re not covering a story that bites you on the butt, outside the realm of that you like to do stories that are more concept kind of stories.”

The calendar proved to be an experiment for students as well. Many were attracted by the chance to get some exposure through the calendar and television.

“It was fun to act like a model for a little bit,” said Shikha Jain, a fourth-year in the College who was selected for the calendar. “It was very professionally done.”

For her audition, Jain sang one of the songs her a cappella group, Men in Drag, covers:”I Do Love You” by LeAnn Rimes.

Other students wanted to show an underrepresented side of the University.

“I knew that there would be no one like me at the audition,” said Robert Hubbard, a first-year in the College who was also selected for the calendar. “I’m loud. I’m fun. I’m different.”

Administrators were attracted by the publicity of the event, deciding very quickly that it was a good opportunity for the University.

“I thought that they showed good taste in coming to us,” said Larry Arbeiter, the director of University communications. “When they decided to come to Chicago, we were the first place they tried.”

Host Deborah Norville, who was a broadcaster in Chicago, suggested the University as the first place to try after Chicago was decided as a good market for the show, Arbeiter said.

After a suggestion from an employee in the University News Office, administrators decided to produce the calendar on a large scale for better publicity as a fundraiser for charities or scholarships for the University, Arbeiter said.

“This sounded like a positive and fun thing for students to try. After all, U of C students don’t study all the time,” he said. “We decided we would take a chance on it.”

The television program that will result from the creation of the calendar will try to fight some misconceptions about attractive people.

“I think they wanted to fight the stereotype that some people have that attractive people aren’t intelligent,” Arbeiter said. “They wanted people who would photograph well, they wanted people who were intelligent, and they wanted people who were multi-dimensional.”

Inside Edition was quite satisfied with the results.

“Students here seem very serious…[The school is] very goal-oriented,” Kramer said. “We’re very impressed.”

“I had no perceptions of the school. I did hear a lot of the jokes about it being like the number 300 party school,” he said. “I can tell you everybody’s been terrific to us.”

Even other students and administrators were impressed by the turnout and the quality and ingenuity of auditioning students.

“They started to mix things up by applying their outside interests with their academic interests,” said Elliott Brennan, University News Office liaison to Inside Edition. “Zach McClain was asked to explain cellular mitosis in the voice of an 80-year-old Manhattan socialite with a broken air conditioner, which he nailed.”

“[Students trying out] had really articulate answers for the questions they were asked. They had all sorts of skills, things they could do, as well as obviously being very smart,” he said. “They were asked to do it on the spot, and they hit it as though they had rehearsed.”

The University will promote the calendar and television show as much as possible when both are finished.

“We’ll do what we can to make them available and make something beneficial from the sales as well,” Arbeiter said. “Once we find out when it’s going to air, we’ll tell all the students.”